Editorial: In Senate races, experience counts
Of the 13 state Senate seats up for grabs this year, only five Oahu ones remain contested in the Nov. 6 general election.
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Of the 13 state Senate seats up for grabs this year, only five Oahu ones remain contested in the Nov. 6 general election. Of these, the Star-Advertiser endorses three incumbents; one House member trying to cross over; and one political newbie. Hungry as we are for a robust two-party system, alas, today’s endorsements all go to Democrats, due to a lack of strong challenges.
>> District 12 (Kakaako- Waikiki): Community advocate Sharon Moriwaki beat incumbent Brickwood Galuteria in the Democratic primary, and there’s no reason not to cheer her on against Republican Lynn Barry Mariano, a retired U.S. Army major and now a program manager at Camp Smith. As stated in our earlier endorsement of Moriwaki, the founder/president of Kakaako United and retired state government leader stands to bring depth of experience and robust neighborhood engagement to the office. Moriwaki recently has been vigilant about the area’s rapid growth, and her careers in labor, the judiciary and energy policy should help inform legislative debates.
>> District 17 (Waipahu-Pearl City-Pacific Palisades): The longtime incumbent, Democrat Clarence Nishihara, is the better choice over Republican Roger Clemente, in this repeat race of 2014. Clemente has virtually no community or public-service experience, whereas Nishihara has put in considerable time as this area’s senator for the past four terms, since 2004. Among past chairmanships, he currently heads the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee; his work on incarceration will become increasingly important as the state pursues a new Oahu jail as well as inmate reform. Also, Nishihara’s earlier careers as a teacher and administrator are useful in public- school discussions.
>> District 18 (Mililani-Waikele- Kunia): Michelle Kidani, the Democratic incumbent since 2013 and before that, a state representative, faces Republican Anthony Solis, a radio personality and “full-time Christian running for state Senate.” As Senate vice president and education committee chairwoman, Kidani has done a steady job for her district, so there’s little reason to change now in favor of a challenger with comparably scant community service. The incumbent continues to be engaged with her constituency, particularly on education matters, in which this district’s schools feel immense enrollment pressures.
>> District 19 (Ewa Beach- Iroquois Point): In this special election to fill the last two years of the office vacated by Will Espero, Matt LoPresti, currently a state representative and Asian-Pacific Studies professor, has the edge against Republican Kurt Fevella, a lifelong Ewa resident. As a two-term House member, LoPresti has brought energy to getting things done for his district — visibly in helping to secure air conditioning or heat abatement for area schools, and funds to address overcrowding in Ewa schools. An unfortunate incident in the primary election campaign — LoPresti was caught on a home security camera removing a rival’s campaign flier from the door, for which LoPresti apologized — throws lingering doubts about his overzealousness and judgment. Still, on balance, LoPresti deserves a chance at redemption, to do better by, and to deliver for, his constituents.
>> District 21 (Kalaeloa- Waianae-Makaha): Democratic incumbent Maile Shimabukuro gets our nod over Republican Diamond Garcia, a pastor and fledgling politician. Since joining the Legislature in 2003 and the Senate in 2010, Shimabukuro has been effective in advocating for this district’s needs, such as Nanakuli traffic projects and funds to improve area schools’ programs and building. As Hawaiian Affairs Committee chairwoman and an attorney for a nonprofit legal aid office, Shimabukuro knows her community well, and has earned another term.