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Congressional Starting Lineup 2012

Part two: Candidates for Hawai‘i’s 2nd Congressional District seat share their political platforms with island voters.

December 8, 2011
Sarah Ruppenthal , The Maui Weekly

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 run for the office, 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 candidates not already covered in last week's issue:

Article Photos

Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard

At the age of 30, Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard has accomplished more than some will in a lifetime. In 2002, at the age of 21, Gabbard was elected to the Hawai'i State Legislature, making her the youngest female state representative in U.S. history. In 2004, she volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the Hawai'i National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team, where she served in a medical unit, and later returned to the Middle East for a second deployment.

According to her campaign Website, she was "tasked with a security mission, served as a military police platoon leader and assisted in training the Kuwait National Guard." Between these deployments, Gabbard spent two years as a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, serving as his advisor on a range of issues, including energy independence, homeland security, environment and veterans affairs.

When she announced her intention to run for the 2nd Congressional District, she said, "I refuse to accept that our children's future will be worse than past generations. The future of our children, our families, and our state and country depends upon a strong economy and good jobs. So in Congress, this will be one of my main priorities. Without a vibrant economy, we will not be able to pay for a strong national defense, environmental protection, education, Social Security, Medicare or other social services."

Gabbard may be young, but her supporters say she is wise beyond her years-a sentiment some believe is reflected by her own words.

"While we may not always agree on every issue, I want to assure you that I will always respectfully listen to your concerns, and always keep an open mind," she said in a recent video statement. "I have a sincere desire to be of service to all the people of Hawai'i, and I'm confident that I will serve you well. I have the experience, the energy, and the determination to fight for you, our beautiful Hawai'i, and our great country."

Esther Kia'aina

If she is elected to serve as the representative for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, Esther Kia'aina will arrive on Capitol Hill (a place she knows all to well) with more than 20 years of public policy and community experience in Washington, D.C., Hawai'i, and the Pacific Region.

Kia'aina has served as state Office of Hawaiian Affairs chief advocate, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ed Case, chief of staff and legislative director to Congressman Robert Underwood of Guam and a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

According to her campaign Website, she has expertise in federal policy toward Native Hawaiians, Asian and Pacific Islanders, the U.S. Pacific Territories and the Freely Associated States of Micronesia, and "believes strongly in empowering communities by promoting leadership and capacity building, sustainable solutions, economic-self sufficiency, and business opportunities."

Familiar with the inner workings of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Kia'aina said she has the experience to get things done in Washington, D.C.

"I am deeply committed to public service," she said, "and I have a long history of advocating for issues important to the people of Hawai'i."

If she is elected, Kia'aina said she "will use my professional experience and cultural values to represent the people of the 2nd District of Hawai'i with pride, passion and inclusivity."

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 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



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