VIDEO: Esther Kia’aina – Candidate Profile 2012

July 24, 2012, 3:10 PM HST · Updated July 24, 4:10 PM
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Esther Kia’aina. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Interview and transcription by Wendy Osher

INTRO: Tell us about yourself and your campaign.

Aloha mai kakou.  My name is Esther Kia’aina from Nanakuli, O’ahu.  I am pleased to be here, to be able to share why I am running for Congress.  I am seeking the democratic nomination for Hawaii’s Second Congressional District.  My campaign is about ensuring and improving the quality of life of all people.  I believe that I am the best qualified to represent you in Washington, DC because I have over 20 years of public policy and community experience in Congress, Hawai’i and the Pacific region.  Thank you for this opportunity.

Question 1:  What is your number one priority for Hawaii in this upcoming term and how do you plan to implement action to accomplish this goal?

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My number one priority of course is addressing the economic concerns of Hawaii’s economy, as well as creating new jobs.  I plan on re-establishing my relationships with colleagues in congress as well as the federal executive branch to work collectively with the governor, the various mayors of the counties, as well as the Hawai’i congressional delegation, so that we could number one, deal with our economic challenges collectively, and number two, figure out the unique circumstances of each of the counties. 

Question 2:  Why should Maui constituents vote for you; and what direct impacts to you hope to make in Maui County if you are voted into office?

First I want to say that I have strong ancestral ties to the County of Maui.  My mother is from Kalamaula, Molokai, and my grandparents–all four of them–are from Kalaupapa, Waiehu, Kula, and Ke’anae–where my namesake, Esther Puakela Assad (sp?) is from.  The challenges facing Maui is very unique compared to the state as a whole.  Of course I will help Maui with strengthening its agricultural and tourism industries, but I believe that it could see more progress on its high technology, as well as information technology projects.  I know that there are projects ongoing, and I hope to strengthen the private sector’s involvement with the government funding to move forward these projects.  Alternative energy is very important and Maui is certainly a leader on that front.  I think that there is ample federal funding available, given the priority that alternative energy has in our economy.  Lastly, small business–small business is the backbone of Maui’s economy, with over 50% of the private sector comprising small business. I will work with the Small Business Administration, and other federal agencies, not only to strengthen current businesses, but to help in the creation of new businesses.

Question 3:  What concrete examples can you give of your experience that makes you more qualified that other candidates included on the primary ballot.

I am the only candidate that has extensive congressional experience in how Washington works.  I have worked in the US Senate, and the US House of Representatives.  I have over 20 years of public policy experience, not only in DC, but in Hawai’i, and the Pacific region.  As a result of that I think it’s imperative at this point in time in Hawai’i and our country’s history, that we have someone who can get the ball running from day one.  I believe that I am the best qualified person to do that.  I have a record of accomplishment in achieving, at a staff level, administrative action or legislative action to help with all of the members that I worked with over the years.   That includes Senator Akaka, Congressman Underwood of Guam, and Congressman Ed Case of Hawai’i. 

Closing Thoughts:

Mahalo again for being given this opportunity.  My name is Esther Kia’aina from Nanakuli, O’ahu, and I am seeking the Democratic nomination for Hawaii’s second congressional district.  For further information on my campaign, please visit my website at kiaaina.com, or you can call my campaign at 521-2012. Mahalo

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