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Re-elect legislators in city core

LAST UPDATED: 5:48 p.m. HST, Oct 28, 2010

In considering our endorsements for the Nov. 2 state Legislature races, we were mindful of candidates' backgrounds and experiences, civil rights positions, community involvement, and ideas to propel the state forward in positive ways. Incumbency was a factor, but not a rubber stamp. And when it was a toss-up between the Democrat or Republican, we favored the loyal opposition Republican to encourage a diversity of views.


Today is the first in a weeklong series of endorsements on state Legislature races, divided into general areas.
For last week's general election endorsements -- including governor, Congress and school board -- see, Editorials section. For more on all candidates and the Nov. 2 election, click on the website's "VOTE 2010" election guide icon.
To view candidates on video, see
Today, we focus on part of urban Honolulu, a mix of homes and hotels, longtime residents and tourists, high-density complexes and cultivated green belts. With the perks of living in the state's bustling core, though, come the issues and conflicts of compact, metro living. This relatively fast pace naturally magnifies issues of traffic, livability and maintenance.

» Senate District 9 (Kaimuki-Palolo): A leading figure in the Legislature for over two decades, Democrat Les Ihara is known for his insistence on ethical conduct in government and his progressive stance on issues. Ihara deserves to continue his work and prevail over a challenge from conservative Republican Lisa Shorba, 43, a University of Hawaii adviser and counselor. Ihara, 59, has been a senator for 16 years, after eight years in the House. He is the Senate Democratic policy leader and co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging, reflective of the significant elderly component of his constituency in Kaimuki and Palolo.

» Senate District 10 (Moiliili-McCully): Democrat Brian Taniguchi is among the Senate's power elite as Judiciary chairman, having served earlier as head of the Ways and Means and Consumer Protection committees. He faces Republican novice Eric Marshall, 35, a federal credit union employee. Taniguchi, 58, a former consultant for Central Pacific Bank, has been fair as Judiciary head in handling the governor's nomination of judges, although we call for more transparency of the issues in determining whether a nominee should be confirmed.

» House District 20 (St. Louis-Palolo): Small business owner Julia Allen, 62, is challenging Calvin Say, 58, for the fourth time. Many of her positions are admirable -- she signed a pledge to not raise taxes, supports substantive educational reforms and opposes raiding special funds -- and might have been our pick if her Democratic opponent was not House Speaker Say. Overall, Say has been fiscally responsible, and has voted to legalize same-sex civil unions. He often attends Palolo Neighborhood Board meetings, showing he has his district's interests at heart. Given his position in the House, he is the choice to best represent his district while also serving the state.

» House District 21 (Kaimuki-Waikiki): Our choice is Democratic incumbent Scott Nishimoto, 36, an attorney first elected in 2002, shortly after graduating from the University of Hawaii law school. His record on taxes is mixed, but he supports an appointed school board and same-sex civil unions. His community involvement is extensive, including regular appearances at the Kaimuki and Waikiki neighborhood boards. Republican Jay Lembeck, 66, has degrees from both UH and Harvard Business School, but his platform is sparse on specifics and we are disinclined to back a past executive director of Hawaii Right to Life, which opposes the right to abortion and same-sex civil unions.

» House District 22 (Moiliili-McCully): Incumbent Democrat Scott Saiki is challenged by neighborhood board official Gregory Cuadra, 54, a Realtor making a favorable impression with his anti-graffiti activism, compared with Saiki's lower community profile of late. Saiki, 46, showed promise as a leader when first elected in 1994, but has blended into the Democratic majority. Still, the lawyer and Moiliili Community Center director has received above-average rankings from Small Business Hawaii and Sierra Club Hawaii, and has voted against raiding the counties' hotel room tax and for civil unions. We give him the nod, but would like to see more dynamic work.

» House District 23 (Waikiki-Ala Moana): Tom Brower, 45, the incumbent Democrat, seems to have a good handle on area issues, ranging from homelessness to job diversification to condo/rent concerns, and should continue. Republican rival Thomas E. White has not responded to issue questionnaires.

» House District 24 (Manoa): Incumbent Democrat Isaac Choy, 56, is involved in his community and is building a solid reputation since his 2008 election. A CPA and owner of a consulting group, Choy has the financial chops to help the state muddle through its budgetary dire straits. His opponent is conservative Republican Zach Thomson, 30.

» House District 25 (Tantalus-Makiki): Democrat Della Au Belatti, 36, a lawyer and former teacher, has done solid work since being elected in 2006 and is gaining a reputation for being prepared and intellectually engaged. She voted for the civil unions bill and against raising the hotel room tax. Her rival is Republican Isaiah Sabey, 44, a teacher.

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