Prognostications and other such things
Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
Governor David Ige proclaimed October 2022 as Civics Awareness Month. The Supreme Court of Hawai‘i created a Commission to Promote and Advance Civic Education (PACE) last year, in part to interest underrepresented groups in college, law school and law-related careers. I made a brief appearance in front of the twenty-four high school students spending their Fall break in the inaugural Maui Nui Law & Justice Academy, a collaboration between University of Hawai‘i Maui College, the William S. Richardson Law School, PACE, the Judiciary and the Maui County Bar Association. I shared my time with the students with Molokai Councilwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandes about our journeys into law school, public service and law practice. Keani, being more approachable, received more questions from the students.
October is also Filipino-American History month nationally and in Hawai‘i. Due to the weather, the ceremony was held indoors this year and by invitation. As of October 7, the Philippine flag was flown over the County Building. But the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival will not be staged again this year, leaving 2019 winner Abby Rodas-Ferrer as the final Master P-Noy Chef®.
MIL football is in full swing (isn’t it time to break up Lahainaluna?) but no need for a fair break, again, this year.
I can’t help but wonder if the Maui Fair (aka the Maui County Fair) has gone the way of HC&S, Shishido manju and St. Anthony varsity football. It was canceled again this year and Honolulu mainstay the Punahou Carnival will take place without E.K. Fernandez rides and games. That doesn’t bode well for the 100th Annual Maui Fair in the near future.
At least rumor has it, the Backyard Oktoberfest is making a live action return: Ein Prosit, ein Prosit/ Der Gemu¨tlichkeit/ Ein Prosit, ein Prosit/ Der Gemu¨tlichkeit.
And Maui Economic Opportunity’s Senior Health Fair will take place in person this month. But I digress.
It’s Civics Awareness Month and one of our collective primary responsibilities as a community is to vote. Like many things, the pandemic has made even the end of election season different. Less door knocking by candidates or their supporters and, so far, less mail. With Hawai‘i now running all-mail elections, ballots are scheduled to arrive in mid-October, voting will last for weeks before the November 8th Election Day.
The Maui legislative delegation will have some new faces.
Reapportionment reshaped a number of districts. Three of the five Central Maui legislative races are all pau (Wailuku-Waikapū’s Democratic Rep. Troy Hashimoto was unopposed and Kahului’s Rep. Justin Woodson (D) won in the Primary). Waihe‘e voters will decide who represents them and West Maui communities in the State House (choosing between former Councilwoman Elle Cochran (D), Kelly Armstrong (R) and Aloha ‘Āina Leonard Nakoa III), while Waikapū Gardens and Legends residents will share a new State Senator with Lahaina, Kīhei and Wailea neighborhoods (West Maui Rep. Angus Mc-Kelvey (D) faces Republican Sheila Walker (R) and Green Party nominee Mish Shishido).
The dean of the Maui delegation Rep. Kyle Yamashita (D) is in line for a more prominent role on the House Finance Committee. Yamashita currently manages capital improvement projects—making sure UH Maui College, Maui Nui schools, highways, harbors and airports get more than our fair share of public construction spending. After some close recent elections, Kyle faces Dan Johnson (R) and Summer Starr (G). Incumbent Senator Lynn DeCoite (D) hopes to secure the Senate canoe district by outrunning Tamara McKay (R). East Maui-Molokai-Lāna‘i voters will choose their new representative from among perennial candidate Nick Nikhilananda (G), and newcomers Scott Adam (R) and Mahina Poepoe (D). South Maui’s choice is between Republican Shekinah Cantere (R) and Terez Amato (D).
I expect active tweeting Senior U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D) will easily win re-election over Ewa House member Bob McDermott (R) (I still remember Bob saying South Maui didn’t deserve a new high school ahead of improvements for his community’s secondary school.) Brian’s ads tout his appropriator role in the tradition of the late Daniel K. Inouye (nearly $3 billion coming to Hawai‘i) but I recommend following his tweets.
Democrat Jill Tokuda likely will replace Kai Kahele as our Congressional representative, especially with her strong backing from the NRA, or was that just a primary election smear? She does actually have support from Emily’s List. Her opponents have been fairly low profile.
Dr. Josh Green (D) and Sylvia Luke (D) should be heavy favorites to move into Washington Place and the Fifth Floor over Duke Aiona (R) and Junior Tupa‘i (R).
Former Judge Aiona has attacked Green for the Lt. Gov.’s role in the pandemic—curious strategy given the favorable impression Dr. Josh received for his updates and advocacy during the Governor’s and Mayors’ COVID-19 emergency response. Duke also argues Josh is unfair to discuss protecting reproductive rights and other “divisive issues.” I guess mask mandates and vaccines aren’t divisive. More importantly, we are left to perpetually wonder how BJ Penn (R) might have handled debating Dr. Green.
Aiona has a diminishing prayer of avoiding three-time loser status. Neil Abercrombie (D) and Brian Schatz (D) swamped Linda Lingle’s Lt. Governor and his running mate Lynn Finnegan (R) in 2010 by 17 percent (222,724–157,311 statewide, and on Maui by 22.4 percent). In 2014, paired with another former State judge Elwin Ahu (R), Aiona lost to David Ige and Maui-native and favorite son Shan Tsutsui (D), 135,775-181,106 (by 12.3 percent statewide, and 24 percent on Maui); running as an independent, Mufi Hanneman collected 42,934 statewide (16.6 percent on Maui). Smart money seems to be going to Green-Luke, as the opening odds are widening. So, the possibility memories of the chaotic Lingle-Aiona years have faded enough for Keiki O Ka ‘Āina Duke to close the gap remains remote.
All county residents can vote in all nine non-partisan County Council races, and the Mayoral race between another former Judge Richard Bissen and incumbent Michael Victorino. Victorino easily won an anemic recall effort earlier this year by critics of his pandemic response but appears to face a tougher referendum on his first four years, with Bissen, who topped the eight-candidate Mayoral primary, as the alternative.
With the departure of Mike Molina and Kelly King, we’ll find new faces representing Ha‘ikū and South Maui on the County Council. Several Council races appear to be spirited contests this year as Maui County voters still seem divided between shirts and skins.
Personally, being done with campaigning so early is an unusual experience. Running unopposed this year, I was re-elected to another term in the State Senate and needed only a single vote in the Primary Election. There may be a few banners lurking inside neighborhoods or on fences that friends and family posted themselves. Please feel free to cut them down unless you want the space for a Republican candidate. My mother has pioneered many new uses for old campaign banners and can advise those of you interested in reducing, reusing and recycling.
Happily, it’s football season (Who Dey Going to Beat Dem Bengals?) and the Warriors will soon begin defending their NBA title. By the time this is published, all four MLB teams that won over one hundred games could be eliminated in this year’s expanded playoffs. But then, there really should be no baseball on Halloween without the Orange and Black San Francisco Giants. Wait ’til next year, when I expect Aaron Judge will be in San Francisco on opening day 2023 (hopefully for his small kid time team and not the guys in pinstripes).
Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran practices law in Wailuku. He grew up in Pā‘ia and Kahului and returned home after seeing mainland America. He once dressed up on Halloween with six friends as the Seven Deadly Sins— he wore jersey 00 as “Sloth.”