Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Agriculture, education lead District 45 hopefuls' agendas

By Susan Essoyan


A retired legislator and an active "Young Democrat" who both have pushed for public involvement in government will face off in a primary before taking on Miss Hawaii 2011 in the new House district that runs from Mililani to Mokuleia.

Former state Rep. Ollie Lunasco, who served a decade in the House, hopes to return to the Capitol at age 70, while 31-year-old Jake Bradshaw is making his first bid for public office in the Democratic primary for House District 45.

The winner of that primary will face Lauren Cheape, who completed her year as Miss Hawaii in June and is unopposed in the Republican primary. Cheape, 24, has worked on her family's Petersons' Upland Farms in Wahiawa and promises to be a voice for agriculture.

Lunasco said he helped push through the Sunshine Law in the 1970s to open up government to public scrutiny, along with other pioneering bills such as the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act, which eventually became a model for the nation. An Army veteran, he is endorsed by Veterans in Politics International.

"What amazes me is that we fought hard in the '70s to get openness in government, only to have it go back, in the 21st century, to where deals are being made that the public are being kept out of," Lunasco said. "The whole political scene today, it's frustrating. I think we got to get people elected that are going to change government."

The former field supervisor for Waialua Sugar also wants to focus on expanding agriculture, in particular specialty crops that Hawaii farmers can export. He served four terms on the North Shore Neighborhood Board and is president of the Oahu Pig Hunters Association.

"The state philosophy is they support ag, but yet they haven't put their money where their mouth is," Lunasco said.

Bradshaw established Young Democrats groups at Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa to spark interest in politics. He earned his master's degree in communication from HPU with a certificate in mediation and conflict resolution, and has a bachelor's degree in political science.

A former property manager who is now starting a communications firm, Bradshaw was director of community outreach during a stint in the Navy, organizing volunteer efforts for charities. The father of three young children, whose wife is a teacher, said he is committed to public education and promoting jobs.

"Obviously we don't want big-time development on the North Shore, but we need to make sure we're supporting smart growth development so our people are working and can put food on the table," Bradshaw said.

He has won a string of union endorsements, including the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the AFL-CIO and the laborers and carpenters.

"I'm a very old-school Democrat," Bradshaw said. "Education and infrastructure are my main priorities."

The sprawling new district encompasses Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and portions of Waipio, Mililani, Kunia and Waialua. Bradshaw and Lunasco live in Waialua while Cheape is a Mililani resident.

Cheape said she feels well-suited to represent the district since her father was born and raised in Waialua and she grew up in Mililani, and she knows the rural lifestyle from pitching in on her family's egg farm, which dates back a century.

She graduated from Mililani High and earned a degree in filmmaking at UH-Manoa, minoring in Japa­nese and business and also playing water polo. She won the Miss America pageant's talent competition with her jump-rope routine, a first for the pageant, and advocates for active living.

Cheape produced a documentary film, "Farm Grown," which highlighted the struggles of local farmers. She has been endorsed by the Sierra Club and emphasizes the importance of supporting agriculture, saying some policies need to be adjusted to suit small farms.

"A lot of our legislators say they support agriculture, but I am a farmer, " Cheape said. "I've been knee-deep in the manure, and I feel like I have a unique opportunity to be a voice for the local farmer."

"Once you get rid of ag land, you're never going to get it back," she added. "Because we live in Hawaii with such limited resources, we need to really treasure what we have."

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