Jane Sanders Visits Maui to Stump for Husband Ahead of Hawaiʻi Caucus

March 22, 2016, 9:01 AM HST · Updated March 22, 2:06 PM
Wendy Osher · 0 Comments
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Jane Sanders answering constituent questions at a meet-and-greet venue at the Mill House located at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū. (3.21.16) Photo by Wendy Osher.

Jane Sanders answering constituent questions at a meet-and-greet venue at the Mill House located at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū. (3.21.16) Photo by Wendy Osher.

Jane Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders visited Maui last night to rally support behind her husband ahead of Hawaiʻi’s Presidential preference polls taking place this weekend.

We spoke one-on-one with Mrs Sanders about the upcoming closure of the sugar operations on Maui and the issues facing farmers and agricultural operations in the US.

“We need to have diversified agriculture… I’m surprised to learn that 80% of the food that is consumed on the islands is imported.  I understand that there is some thought about diversifying agriculture and I think that that is a very smart move,” said Mrs. Sanders in a one-on-one interview with Maui Now’s Wendy Osher outside of the Puʻunēnē Sugar Museum.

Jane Sanders speaking with supporters in front of the HC&S Sugar Mill in Puʻunēnē. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Jane Sanders speaking with supporters in front of the HC&S Sugar Mill in Puʻunēnē. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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With the sound of a passing plane overhead and the churning of industry at the mill as her backdrop, we took the opportunity to ask about the investment in tourism and small business, two driving forces of Maui’s economic engine.

“One of the things that he (Bernie Sanders) is supporting very much,” she said, “is to have there be some economic drivers in all parts of America… to be saying to Hawaiʻi, ‘what is it that you need to sustain the quality of life and to ensure a healthy community.'”

Mrs. Sanders also took the opportunity to highlight some platform issues supported by her husband as he seeks the democratic nomination.

Jane Sanders answering constituent questions at a meet-and-greet venue at the Mill House located at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū. (3.21.16) Photo by Wendy Osher.

Jane Sanders answering constituent questions at a meet-and-greet venue at the Mill House located at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū. (3.21.16) Photo by Wendy Osher.

“I was on Oʻahu earlier today (Monday) and yesterday (Sunday), and had many meetings with people that really informed (us) on what we needed to learn about Hawaiʻi, above the surface that we all know.  Everybody loves Hawaiʻi, but there are problems here just as anywhere else.  They’re asking that there be a government of the people, by the people and for the people once again, including the voices of the people that are affected by the policies.”

She continues saying that the issues that Bernie is talking about affect Hawaiʻi,  “…the idea of having a national health care system; to have higher education that’s affordable and accessible, regardless of your financial circumstances; to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; and to address the very real impacts of climate change, which is something I know Hawaiians are very concerned about, and the people of Hawaiʻi are very concerned about.”

Noted as a lifetime supporter of gay rights and marriage equality, we asked about Hawaii’s move to legalize gay marriage in 2013, and the subsequent Supreme Court ruling in June of 2015 that deemed bans on same-sex marriage at the state level as unconstitutional.

Jane Sanders answering constituent questions at a meet-and-greet venue at the Mill House located at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū. (3.21.16) Photo by Wendy Osher.

Jane Sanders answering constituent questions at a meet-and-greet venue at the Mill House located at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū. (3.21.16) Photo by Wendy Osher.

“When he was mayor, the LGBT community applied for a gay rights pride day in March, and the police turned them down.  As a mayor, he said ‘Why? No. They are allowed to march.’  So that was his first endeavor back in the 80s.  In 1996, in Congress, the Defense of Marriage Act, which really just legislated intolerance, (put it right into law) was up.  He was one of six people in the House of Representatives that voted against it.  It wasn’t a popular vote at the time and we were very strong supporters of civil unions in Vermont, and when Vermont decided to go ahead with gay marriage, he was supportive of that.”

Mrs. Sanders said her husband Bernie took his cue from the people to ensure that all people are treated equally.  “Right now it is wonderful that 50 states have all approved gay marriage, which basically says you can love who you want.  You can have a family of who you want.  To think otherwise, or to think any human being is less than some other human being, it’s just not in our vernacular,” she said.

Jane Sanders speaking with supporters in front of the HC&S Sugar Mill in Puʻunēnē. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Jane Sanders speaking with supporters in front of the HC&S Sugar Mill in Puʻunēnē. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Mrs. Sanders also took the opportunity to encourage civic participation saying, “Please, please, please, come out and vote.  Bernie has his campaign is based on the fact that he wants to have a political revolution where we bring back a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  We got into this race because it seemed that the economic and political decisions were resting in fewer and fewer hands, and lobbyists were having more and more power down in Washington.  And we felt that we needed to do everything we could to reverse that trend and bring the voices of Americans, of the people, back into the halls of power.”

“My hope is that we will have a very large turnout in Hawaii and in the other five states that are happening this week.  When voter turnout is high, Bernie does well (and) Democrats do better than Republicans. We hope that a lot of people become involved,” she said.

“Bernie believes very strongly and feels very passionately about Democracy, and that’s one of the reasons that we are active in this race,” said Mrs. Sanders.  “What we need to do, the first step in the Democracy, is to get out and vote in the primary.  This is the time to actually effect real change.  If that’s what you want, you have to  get out and vote.  And if you don’t do it, we’ll have status quo,” she said.

Billionaire Donald Trump won the Hawaii GOP caucus two weeks ago.  The democratic caucus takes place at 1 p.m. on March 26th.  Hawaii will send 34 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July.  Delegates are allocated based upon precinct meeting voting numbers on Saturday.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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