Waimea Political ForumJuly 4, 2018, 3:30 PM HST (Updated July 3, 2018, 2:47 PM)
To help North Hawai‘i voters learn first-hand about the candidates that will appear on the Aug. 11 Primary ballot, Waimea Community Association is again collaborating with several community groups to co-host a candidate forum from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy’s Taylor Commons, the upper campus cafeteria. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and the program will begin right at 5.
In Hawai‘i, most major election decisions are made in the Primary Election. This is certainly true for North Hawai‘i for the rapidly approaching Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Primary Election. While there are candidates for both parties in three of the key “local” races, which means these races will not be final until the November General Election, it’s possible that some of the “local” races will be decided by mid-August.
Also, with all the uncertainty facing the County of Hawai‘i with the damaging eruption impacting not just lower Puna but many residents and businesses islandwide due to displaced people, vog and other emissions, a slowdown in tourism, and businesses and farms forced to close or shorten hours, coupled with longer term issues such as balancing the county budget, plus wide ranging concerns at the state and federal level, there’s a great deal at stake in Hawai‘i’s Primary Election.
Also, there are several first-time candidates for voters to get to know.
Partnering in the forum are Waimea’s Lalamilo Farmers, Waimea Middle School, Keck Observatory, Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, Kailapa Community Association, Waimea Hawaiian Homesteaders Association, North Hawai‘i Rotary and the South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee.
All North Hawai‘i voters are invited to meet and talk with the candidates for the offices of U.S. House of Representatives Congressional District 2 (which represents all neighbor islands and windward O‘ahu), State Senate Dist. 4 (Hāmākua-Waimea-North Kohala-Kawaihae-Puako-Waikoloa-North Kona), State House Dist. 7 (Waimea-North Kohala-Waikoloa to North Kona), and County Council District 1 (Hāmākua Coast to Waimea’s White Road) and District 9 (from Waimea’s White Road west through the rest of Waimea to Kawaihae-North Kohala-Puako-Waikoloa-North Kona). All of the 13 candidates who have filed for these seats have been invited and most have confirmed.
The forum will be facilitated by newswoman Sherry Bracken, who will begin the program with candidates introducing themselves and sharing their reasons for seeking public office, and also their top priorities for the North Hawai‘i district and island. Then, candidates will participate in a “speed dating” format that involves candidates meeting with small groups of voters to discuss issues and answer questions. These small group sessions will be timed, and then candidates will move on to meet with the next small group. In the course of the evening, all candidates will have spent time with all attendees.
Community leaders are being recruited to captain each of the small groups to ensure as many questions or issues as possible are addressed.
“Waimea has hosted candidate forums since the 1970s and we appreciate that candidates make time to come meet with North Hawai‘i voters and get to know more about us,” said Patti Cook, WCA President.
“Our community likes the ‘speed dating’ format because they say it helps them get to know candidates on a more personal basis,” said Cook. “Participants say that ‘speed dating’ lets them convey their priorities and concerns and also hear candidates’ views, what they know and how they think.”
“The format also helps candidates get to know more about the priorities and concerns of voters,” she said.
The published deadline to register to vote in the Primary is July 12, however, the Hawai‘i State Legislature has now authorized voter registration on election day. However, early registration is recommended, and in fact, is required to receive a mailed absentee ballot.
Voter registration forms will be available at the forum and are available online. You must provide a Hawai‘i Driver’s License or State ID, and your Social Security Number when registering. Voters may also submit by mail a paper Voter Registration & Permanent Absentee Application. Go to: http://elections.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/Voter-Registration-and-Permanent-Absentee-Application_Form-Fillable.pdf to download the form.
Early walk-in voting will begin July 30 at Waimea Community Center on Kawaihae Road and also in Hilo, Kailua-Kona and Ka‘ū.
The County Clerk will send mailed absentee ballots to voters beginning about July 23.
Starbucks coffee, water and complimentary Tropical Dreams Ice Cream will be provided. Everyone is encouraged to bring a healthy potluck snack to share because the forum will run three full hours.
Hawai‘i’s General Election will be Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 and all public schools will be closed that day to facilitate elections.