The Kauai County Council election is an “at large election” with the top 7 vote getters being elected to serve as councilmember’s.
At 9:45pm on Tuesday the 4th of November I was sitting solidly at #11 and essentially looking for another job. Then at 10pm in the blink of an eye I jumped to #7 and ended up winning re-election by a nail biting 92 votes.
You can be sure that there were two and perhaps three sets of “happy dances” going on that evening. My good friends in the chemical industry were for sure high fiving, whooping it up and celebrating my demise during the first and second print-outs (insert facetious smirk).
And then at 10pm when the third print-out was announced the shrieks of disbelief resonated from all corners and all perspectives. If you live in the Wailua Homesteads or anywhere from Haena to Puhi or along the Waianae coast of Oahu, I apologize for the noise my family generated for a sustained 30 minutes or more.
Thank you to all who helped make this win possible. Whew!
Many have tried to characterize the Hawaii election results as some sort of litmus test on the debate surrounding restricted use pesticides and the growing of genetically modified experimental crops.
The actions taken on Kauai, Maui and in Hawaii County attempting to regulate the impacts of the chemical companies and the experimental research they are doing in our State has in fact “kicked the hornets nest” and the industry is pushing back hard on all fronts.
Monsanto and industry supporters spent over $8 million statewide and they lost. This is more money than has ever been spent in any Hawaii election, including gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races – and they lost.
In spite of all the money and all of the industry pressure the people of Maui voted to pass a citizens’ initiative that puts into law a temporary moratorium on the cultivation and experimentation of genetically modified organisms – until they are proven safe via a defined process contained within the law.
Many are calling it the “Maui Miracle” – $8 million plus spent by industry against a genuine grass-roots diverse coalition of individual citizens and community activists who spent next to nothing – and industry lost.
Message #1) Committed grassroots can defeat big money.
Over 50% of the voters on Maui said essentially “prove your operations are safe or stop what you are doing”.
Message #2) To those who say this is a “fringe issue” – phooey on you. Look again.
In addition similar forces led by “Forward Progress” a Honolulu based PAC backed by the carpenters union and large contractors spent additional large sums of outside money attempting to take out Maui Councilmember Elle Cochran and Hawaii County Councilmember Margaret Wille, both of whom led the charge in their respective Counties in attempts to regulate these companies and protect the health and environment of their communities. Like myself, both Cochran and Wille prevailed and were re-elected.
Message #3) As neighbor-island communities grow more assertive, the forces in Honolulu grow more nervous.
The chemical companies are now suing Kauai County, Maui County and Hawaii County.
3 of the 4 counties are already “all in” on this issue and it is only a matter of time before the residents of the City and County of Honolulu step up to the plate and begin gathering their signatures.
This issue is not going away. Government agencies and policy makers at both the State and County level need to recognize that there are valid concerns with regards to the experimental nature of this industry and the resulting impacts on the health of our community.
We need statewide buffer zones, full disclosure, a targeted health and environmental study and a temporary statewide moratorium on the growth of this industry until we can determine and mitigate the impacts on the health and environment of our community.
The 2015 Hawaii State Legislature can make this happen. But of course they won’t.