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House leader Say challenged by 2 women

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 10:39 a.m. HST, Nov 01, 2012

If re-elected, Palolo state Rep. Calvin Say would become the longest-serving lawmaker in the 76-member state Legislature.

Say was first elected to the state House in 1976 — the same year U.S. Rep. Daniel Akaka was elected to Congress. Akaka will retire from the U.S. Senate this year after 36 years of service.

Say, 60, a self-employed businessman, has served as speaker of the state House for 13 years, the longest reign in that position in state history.

With the retirement of GOP Rep. Barbara Maru­moto and the primary election lossof state Sen. Carol Fuku­naga, Say survives as the longest-serving member in the Legislature. Maru­moto and Fuku­naga both were first elected in 1978.

Challenging Say's re-election are Republican Julia Allen, a legislative aide; and Green Party candidate Keiko Bonk, who in 1992 after her win as a Hawaii County Council member became the first person to be elected from her party to serve. Bonk, longtime political and cultural advocate for the protection of Hawaii's natural and cultural environment, also ran twice unsuccessfully for Hawaii County mayor, in 1996 and 2000.

The three want to represent House District 20, which comprises Palolo, St. Louis Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Mau­na­lani and Kaimuki. State voter registration figures show that there are 15,408 people registered this year to cast general election ballots at the district's four polling places.

Community leaders describe the demo­graph­ics of the district as elderly but becoming multigenerational where issues primarily center on property taxes, rising electrical, water and sewage rates, and road improvements. The majority of the district's voters — nearly 8,500 — are 50 years or older.

Lyle Bullock, chairman of the 11-member Kaimuki Neighborhood Board No. 4, said one of the major concerns of the district is "the rehabilitation of Wai­alae Avenue" and "revitalization of Kaimuki town."

If re-elected, Say faces a challenge to his continued leadership when the Demo­crats meet after the election to organize for next year's legislative session.

Say said he hopes he can continue to bring "continuity and stability" not only to the residents and businesses in his House district, but also to the operations of the Legislature.

Say sees his role in the House as a bridge between the older and younger members in his caucus, saying that the Demo­crats should understand and appreciate the struggles that occurred before statehood in 1959.

Campaign spending disclosure data show that Say had out-raised his opponents as of the last reporting deadline in August, with $192,141. Bonk followed with $17,698 and Allen had raised $1,089. Bonk had taken out loans amounting to $9,923 to finance her campaign.

During the primary race, Say spent $53,108; Bonk, $16,599; and Allen, $440. Candidates running in the general election aren't required to file reports on the amounts they raised and spent until today.

Allen, 64, first filed to run against Say in 2004 since no other candidate would oppose him, and has run in every election since then for the same reason.

"We don't elect kings here. I think it is important that there are real choices on your ballot," said Allen, who started as a part-time GOP legislative aide in 2005 and has worked for state Sen. Sam Slom, the lone Republican senator, since 2006.

Allen attended Wai­ma­nalo Elementary School for one year and graduated from a California high school. She returned to Hawaii in 1976 and worked as a businesswoman.

Bonk, 57, said she decided to return to electoral politics this year because of the passage of Act 55, the law passed by the Legislature that established the Public Land Development Corp. It allows the agency to develop state lands to generate revenue for the cash-strapped state Department of Land and Natural Resources. However, critics like Bonk said the corporation eliminates local controls and home rule. "That is why every County Council, except Hono­lulu, is against it," said Bonk.

"Everything that I have worked on has been dismantled," said Bonk, who formed PONO, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the Native Hawaiian concept of "pono" to Hawaii's cultural business and political institutions.

Say said he is open to having the law reviewed during next year's legislative session, but doesn't support any move to repeal the measure.

"I am willing to work towards some compromise," said Say, "but not total repeal."

Bonk graduated from Hilo High School in 1972 and the University of Hawaii in 1976, and received a master's degree in fine arts from Hunter College in 1982.

Bonk has been endorsed by Veteran in Politics, Hawaii Ohana, Progressive PAC, Sierra Club, Hawaii Women's Progressive Caucus and Aikea.

Say's endorsements include the Hawaii Building Trades Council, National Association of Social Workers (NASW-PACE), ILWU Local 142, Ironworkers Union Stabilization Fund, Equality Hawaii, Building Industry Association, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, United Public Workers, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers and Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Allen has not yet received endorsements.

Say, a 1970 Saint Louis High School graduate, earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Hawaii in 1974. He worked part time at the old Flamingo Chuck Wagon restaurant until he joined his wife's family business — Kotake Shokai — in 1980 and is now its president. Say is also secretary of Tokyo Bento Nichiyo. He was first elected to office in 1976 and elevated to lead the state House in 1999 He served as chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee from 1993 to 1998. Say has been president of the National Speakers Conference executive committee since 1999.

He and his opponents disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage, with Allen opposing legalization. Both Say and Bonk said they support civil unions.

All three said they oppose any forms of legalized gambling.

Allen said she opposes the city's current steel-on-steel fixed guideway mass transit system, while Bonk said her opposition is because it will take away too much agricultural land. Say said he supports a combination of an elevated and at-grade mass transit system.


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Bonk was endorsed by the GLBT Caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party.

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peanutgallery wrote:
Calvin has dipped his beak long enough!
on October 29,2012 | 03:42AM
Wazdat wrote:
We need NEW leadership. That is a BIG problem in Hawaii. People keep electing the same people over and over and nothing changes for the better.
on October 29,2012 | 04:43AM
allie wrote:
I like Bonk. She is honest and would bring many good changes. Say may be incompetent and ethically compromised but he will keep doing what is not working in the L:egislature
on October 29,2012 | 06:30AM
Larry01 wrote:
You really don't know anything about Calvin Say.
on October 29,2012 | 08:36AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Or anyone else in Hawaii for that matter.
on October 29,2012 | 11:06PM
silvangold wrote:
Last I read : allie wrote "I am not a resident, I only comment" So who cares who she "likes", she cannot vote here anyway!
on October 29,2012 | 09:56AM
allie wrote:
But people care what a bright outsider from the Great Plains thinks! Outsiders sometimes see things much more clearly
on October 29,2012 | 12:25PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
Thank you for your insightful comment... HON!!!
on October 29,2012 | 01:20PM
turbolink wrote:
Let's take a vote. All in favor of what a not so bright outsider from the Great Plains thinks, raise your virtual hands. Anyone?
on October 29,2012 | 03:34PM
copperwire9 wrote:
THat would probably work with 'bright' outsider comments.
on October 29,2012 | 04:42PM
Anonymous wrote:
Better view from outside looking into Hawaii's continuously lame political system, because as a State we all suffer from willful blindness and stupidity, electing and re-electing the dame old political scoundrels that get nothing of substance legislatively done! Hawaii continues to suffer from the lack of an actual 2 or more political party system and as long as the democratic party dominates the political scene, Hawaii will continue to stagnate and lag behind the rest of the United States!
on October 29,2012 | 07:06PM
Kapakahi wrote:
The problem is not that say is "incompetent." He is very competent at controlling the legislative process and at the "retail level" of politics, knowing the residents, inquiring about their relatives, listening to their concerns, showing up at the community meetings, etc.

The problem is, as you say, this will cause him to "continue to continue" with what does not work at resolving our problems. We need more creativity. And a legislative process which encourages open discussion of alternative ideas. not a process which squelches discussion and prevents public observation of the legislation being proposed. It is time for Speaker to retire.

on October 29,2012 | 12:41PM
McCully wrote:
Anybody but Say!
on October 29,2012 | 07:17AM
loquaciousone wrote:
How about a good ole MMA tag team match between the two women against Calvin and his ego?
on October 29,2012 | 07:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Nah. Mud wrestling. Naked. OK, maybe not ....that last part was a bad idea. More wrinkles than a Shar-pei's nuts.
on October 29,2012 | 08:34AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 29,2012 | 07:30AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I should Say.
on October 29,2012 | 08:40AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 29,2012 | 08:57AM
loquaciousone wrote:
According to my calculations you're about 500 years old. You must have a doozy of a time trying to blow out the candles on you cake.
on October 29,2012 | 09:40AM
DABLACK wrote:
Now is the time to start new.....the good-ole-boy-club gotta go. The legistators must stop " support me and I'll take support you" shenanigans. They do not represent their constituents....they make laws to benefit themselves only.
on October 29,2012 | 09:18AM
MakaniKai wrote:
OMG I was 13 when he enteroffice! Aloha Calvin da luau is pau!
on October 29,2012 | 09:27AM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Is Bonk a spoiler here. It seems Allen has been gradually growing her experiences and is ready for the good people of her district to support her. Is Calvin giving Bonk support behind the scenes to divide the opposition and thus emerge the victor. For the good of Hawaii please rally behind Julia Allen.
on October 29,2012 | 11:01AM
Kapakahi wrote:
Nonsense. I lived in the district for a decade and still know it pretty well. Allen is a conservative ideologue, totally alien to the thinking of Palolo residents. She only gets some votes from diehard Republicans and those unhappy with Say who want to "send a message, even if its meaning might be unclear.

Keiko Bonk is the rare Hawaii Green candidate. She is competent, experienced and her idealism is balanced by realism. It is "realistic" to understand we cannot go on as we have. It is also "realistic" to understand government policies can facilitate or can block the creativity in the population for solving our problems.

Those who want to dismiss Speaker Say's intelligence, legislative skills and his extensive relationships within the valley do not know what they are talking about. Having said that, I would welcome a Bonk victory. Or, more "realistically," a strong sign to the Speaker that Palolo Valley residents think he should get on with his retirement plans.

on October 29,2012 | 12:37PM
false wrote:
Oh my bad. I thought Palolo residents cared about their standard of living. I guess that there are more than some that are waiting for you to tell them what to do, and say, and who to vote for.
on October 29,2012 | 09:52PM
copperwire9 wrote:
on October 29,2012 | 04:43PM
false wrote:
Cal Say will be re-elected again. So not to worry.
on October 29,2012 | 12:15PM
allie wrote:
yuo..slam dunk
on October 29,2012 | 12:25PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
It's unfortunate but you're probably right....The unions own this guy, you'll never see any reform while he's leading the house. That's why Hawaii has a 6 billion unfunded pension liability for public workers, we can't afford their retirement benefits but no one told the legislature. They just keep doing what their union masters tell them to do.... and Say is their leader.
on October 29,2012 | 11:16PM
Holomua wrote:
Calvin Say immediately started stating that the Legislature would oppose Linda Lingle and overturn all her vetoes when she was first elected. In other words, he went against Hawaii's choice for a governor and tried to sabotage her for two terms just because she was a Republican. We don't need that kind of crap anymore.
on October 29,2012 | 12:20PM
Anonymous wrote:
It is way past time for Calvin Say to step down and pass the reigns of power to a new generation of politicians and bring to a close the 'old boy democrat' network in Hawaii! We don't need 'career politicians' but people who will do the work of the citizens of the state of Hawaii! 50 years of dominance by the democratic party, Hawaii must begin to bring this state back into prominence with an actual multiparty platform political system and until that is done, Hawaii as a state will continue to inhabit the political basement among the 50 States with in the union!
on October 29,2012 | 06:59PM
stevelaudig wrote:
"Say, 60, a self-employed businessman," what a phenomenally uninformative description. "Say goodbye!"
on October 29,2012 | 07:45PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Go Bonk!!!!
on October 29,2012 | 11:20PM
Anonymous wrote:
Say a bridge between the old and the young, ah c'mon he's 60!!!
on October 30,2012 | 12:47AM
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