WHT editorial: Who we like Tuesday

Only a few decisions remain for West Hawaii voters come Tuesday.

Heavily democratic Hawaii usually sees the majority of its races decided in the primary election, which was again the case in August, when a bulk of the seats were filled when the victors didn’t have competition waiting for them in the general election.


A few big ticket races remain, however, and will be decided the old fashioned way — the first Tuesday in November.

The only contested County Council race sits in our backyard — Kona’s seat 7. Newcomers Kelly Drysdale and Rebecca Shute Villegas are in a runoff. Both candidates show great grasp of county issues — from budget woes to housing the homeless — without having served from inside the government before, but we lend our support to Villegas.

A lifelong islander with a history of environmental activism, we like her track record of working with other agencies on a number of community projects, such as with Kohanaiki Ohana. She was instrumental in founding the nonprofit that perpetrates Hawaiian traditions and says she wants to bring that style of collaboration when tackling Hawaii’s cesspool problem, among other issues. Big Island is home to around half of the state’s 88,000 cesspools, and an order is requiring homeowners to transition away by 2050 — a daunting if not spendy assignment.

It’s a major issue that’s not talked about enough. We hope she can help facilitate that dialogue from her county seat, which would be a monumental task. Villegas seems up to it, as she displays a real energy fitting for the job.

We vote yes for a Constitutional Convention. A con-con is lawmaking without the lawmakers, and we don’t look at this opportunity as a time to fear the worst, rather achieve what the electorate wants. It’s an opportune time for the will of the people to tackle issues that have languished in the Legislature for reasons that can be at times dumbfounding.

We say yes on amending the Hawaii County Charter to increase transparency in the process the Salary Commission must go through when giving county employees raises.

A yes vote will add steps before the board can agree to any increases, including 30 days public notice, a public hearing and a full report with the rationale for the wage hikes, all of which gives the public more time to weigh in.

But we say no to making fiscal impact statements a requirement to proposals to change the charter.

We support the David Ige, Josh Green ticket for governor and lieutenant governor.

Ige’s been a champion for a number of West Hawaii projects such as the airport and NELHA but Green will be all the more an advocate for the leeward side in the lieutenant governor’s seat.

Green, a Kona senator and physician, is the ideal politician to champion combating homelessness and the drug addiction epidemic plaguing the state, one step from the governor.

For State House of Representatives District 7, will like David Tarnas, D, over Republican Tom Belekanich.

For State Senate District 3, it’s Democrat Dru Kanuha over Libertarian Michael Last.

For U.S. Senator, we take Democrat Mazie Hirono over Ron Curtis, and Tulsi Gabbard, D, over Brian Evans. WHT doesn’t have endorsements for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs races.