As Hawai'i inches closer to the 2012 General Election, the race for Hawai'i's 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is heating up. Last month, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced he was going to toss his hat into the proverbial ring, adding more fervor to a political race that has drawn a formidable slate of contenders seeking to represent the Aloha State on Capitol Hill.
Two men and two women have declared their candidacies for Hawai'i's 2nd Congressional District seat, which will soon be vacated by U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono (who is vying for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka). So far, the contenders for the 2nd Congressional District include Hannemann, Hawai'i Island Attorney Bob Marx, Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard and state Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Advocate Esther Kia'aina.
The following are brief political snapshots of two of these four candidates, to be followed next week by the remaining two:
Honolulu-born Mufi Hannemann, former mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, said that voters in Hawai‘i have urged him to “get back in the game” and return to public office.
Before he was elected mayor of the City and County of Honolulu in 2005, Mufi Hannemann had-as the saying goes-worn many different hats. The Honolulu-born candidate's resume includes an array of job titles: city councilman; nonprofit director; corporate executive; director of the state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; high school basketball coach; and appointed assistant to four U.S. presidents.
After an unsuccessful bid for the Office of the Governor in 2010, he became the president and CEO of the Hawai'i Hotel & Lodging Association. Despite this, many believed Hannemann's political aspirations would continue. They were right.
"Now, more than ever, our nation and state need to put people back to work and revitalize our economy," he said. "We, as Americans, must work together as one nation, one people, to restore confidence in our ability to give hope to working people and to address the needs of our seniors and children. I believe I offer the proven leadership and experience, fresh ideas and creative solutions, and track record of bringing people together in the spirit of bipartisanship, that will enable me to serve effectively as Hawai'i's representative in Congress."
Hannemann said his decision to reenter the public arena was not an easy one to make. "I enjoy my responsibilities as president and CEO of the Hawai'i Hotel & Lodging Association as we work to strengthen our most important industry," he said. "At the same time, during my travels throughout the Hawaiian Islands, people have been urging me to 'get back in the game' and return to public office."
This level of grassroots support has gained momentum on the Neighbor Islands, said Hannemann. "I've decided that I can best contribute to the future of our islands and make a difference in the lives of our people and nation by seeking to serve in Congress."
The most recent addition to the roster of candidates is Bob Marx, a Hawai'i Island attorney whose political platform is built around the axiom of "Preserving the Middle Class." In addition to advocating for the middle class, Marx promises to protect senior citizens, end our dependence on foreign oil and get the U.S. out of the war in Afghanistan.
Marx, who has practiced law in Hilo since 1980, has been an ardent supporter of various local community organizations, education and the Democratic Party.
"I have spent my life fighting for the middle class and for the people of the Big Island," he said. "I not only live in the Second Congressional District, but understand how rural O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands feel disenfranchised."
It is pivotal time for Hawai'i-and the U.S. as a whole, said Marx. "I have the experience, history, and the determination to put Hawai'i first as your Congressman. this next Congressional session is going to be about jobs and the economy," he said. "I am a successful businessman and community supporter. Now is the time to help my community in Washington, D.C. I humbly ask for your support to serve you and in putting Hawai'i first."
The 2012 Primary and General Elections may be months away, but it is never too soon to register to vote. The deadline for the 2012 Primary Election Voter Registration is Thursday, July 12, and the Primary Election will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11. The deadline for the 2012 General Election Voter Registration is_Monday, Oct. 8, and the General Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
To register to vote, visit hawaii.gov/elections/voters/registration.htm to download the WikiWiki Voter Registration (Hawai'i's registration-by-mail procedure), contact the County of Maui Office of Elections at (808) 270-7749 or visit the State of Hawai'i Office of Elections Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/elections808.