If congressional candidate Kathryn Xian is elected to the U.S. House, she has vowed to donate half her salary to charity.
The Democrat, running in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, said she wants to put her money where her mouth is as a politician and as a human being who cares about her community.
"I feel that the pursuit of politics can become a very self-centered endeavor, to the detriment of our democracy," Xian said.
Xian said the salaries offered to Congress are generous, but "Congress needs to show a little more for what it’s being paid to do with that money."
If elected, Xian would retain about $90,000 a year after donating half her salary.
Xian is executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking. The nearly $90,000 salary would be a step up for Xian, who doesn’t currently earn a salary. She is being supported by her partner, and previously earned $42,000 a year as director of development and communications at Hawaii’s Legal Aid Society, she said.
Asked whether they would make a similar decision to donate parts of their salaries, none of Xian’s competitors in the crowded field of candidates immediately said they would do the same.
"At this stage, I hadn’t even thought about that one bit. I’ve been concentrating on first getting myself elected," said state Sen. Will Espero, who’s competing against Xian in the Democratic primary. "That’s a noble statement on her behalf."
Xian said she would donate the money to the Hawaii Home Project, which delivers medical care to homeless people; Family Promise of Hawaii, which helps homeless families with children; and Hawaii Meals on Wheels.
"In Hawaii, in order to survive, people need a system around them in order to make ends meet, and that needs to end," Xian said.
Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang did not say whether he would donate part of his salary, but said in an emailed statement that if elected he would support the elderly on fixed incomes and workers who struggle from paycheck to paycheck.