Candidates talk priorities in first 1st Congressional forum

As yet another sign that the political season is underway, the first of many public forums was held among the First Congressional District candidates Monday. These candidates are vying for the seat being vacated by current Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

There were no fireworks at this forum, which was sponsored by Kokua Council in downtown Honolulu. If there was anything of note, it was the absence of Senate president Donna Mercado Kim, who was out of town.

The candidates were asked what would be their first priority if elected to Congress.

“One of the first things I would do would be to end tax breaks for big oil companies,” said activist Kathryn Xian. Xian is the only candidate not currently in political office.

“The very first thing I would do would be to make sure the federal government pays what they promised to pay to every single state in the areas of education and seniors,” said State Rep. Mark Takai.

“I would work toward closing loopholes that benefit corporations who are getting tax breaks,” said Honolulu City Council member Joey Manahan.

State Sen. Will Espero touted his political experience as the reason he should be elected. “This is a job interview and what’s important at any job is experience and I believe my experience surpasses anybody who is at this table today.”

But at least two of the candidates said it was time for the next generation to take over the political reins.

“Because young people don’t want to just talk, don’t want to bicker,” said Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang. “We want to get things done. That’s why I am humbly asking for your support today.”

Honolulu City Council member Ikaika Anderson echoed that opinion. “This election offers us a unique opportunity to send a new generation of leadership to Washington, D.C., an opportunity to move away from the tired and tried politics of the past,” he said.

Hawaii’s primary election will be held August 9.

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