UPDATE: Rep. Kaniela Ing to Run for Congress
State Representative Kaniela Saito Ing of Maui will hold a press conference on Monday to officially announce his 2018 candidacy for higher office. Ing plans to run for U.S. Congress to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01).
In making the announcement, Ing said:
“Standing up to Trump is important, but it’s not enough. Leaders must stand up to big-money corruption everywhere and offer a positive vision to win the world we want to see. Hawaiʻi’s cost-of-living is out of control and local families are being squeezed out of their neighborhoods by outside investors. People tell me that they feel like the system is leaving them behind. We can’t keep letting the same establishment elites handpick our leaders and expect things to change. We need a new way forward for our children to have a shot at success. I am running a grassroots campaign to put people before profits, keep Hawaiʻi Hawaiʻi, and offer a new generation of progressive leadership. I am uniquely positioned with decades ahead of me to build the seniority and influence Hawaiʻi needs.” said Ing.
“My decision to run for this open seat is based on where I can make the greatest impact for the state I love and to carry our progressive values as far as possible. Patsy Mink, Tulsi Gabbard, and Colleen Hanabusa all represented areas outside of their districts when they ran for Congress. But they made the case to Hawaii residents that they were best fit for the job. I will work to earn the trust of each voter the same way they did, by listening to their needs and connecting through our shared island values one person at a time.”
Ing’s full announcement speech transcript:
“I’m excited to be here with so many bright-eyed hopeful people, in front of a small local business. This is what it’s all about.
Aloha, my name is Kaniela Ing. I’m a father, a millennial, Native Hawaiian, and a born-and-raised product of Hawaii’s plantation history.
People like me aren’t supposed to run for office. I don’t come from money or power, and neither of my parents or grandparents have college degrees. So when I first ran for State House at 22 years old, I could count the folks who thought I had a chance on one hand—and half of them lived at my mom’s house. I was in a Republican district, running on a progressive platform, but I couldn’t stand by while the tea-party incumbent sell-out the values I grew up with.
So I personally knocked on 15,000 doors. I walked my neighborhood from noon to sunset, after working a full-time sunrise shift cleaning locker rooms at a nearby resort. It was an uphill battle, but people could relate to my grassroots message. So they joined the campaign. To everyone’s surprise, we won by a huge 26 percent.
During my six years in the State House, I put people before profits no matter the cost. We took on corporate polluters, special interest lobbyists, and even billionaires. We expanded voting access, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections, gun safety, and more.
I’ve become the youngest leader in the legislator, focusing on issues of statewide importance as Majority Policy Leader and Chair of the Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs. Now, I’m taking my experience, our values, and this grassroots, progressive energy from Hawaii to Washington D.C.
I am running for Congress because Hawaii’s working families are being left behind and need a representative who understands today’s struggle of paying for college, buying a home, and raising a family. I will work to save Hawaii from climate change, fix our rigged economy, and ensure equal rights for all.
Standing up to Donald Trump and the GOP is important, but it’s not enough. Our leaders must be willing to stand up to big-money special interests, and offer a positive vision of progress beyond resistance.
This means fighting for equal pay, Medicare-for-all, tuition-free college, universal basic income, women’s health, LGBTQ rights, a 100% renewable future, worker protections, the legalization of adult-use cannabis, an end to reckless wars abroad, sacred spaces, living wages, criminal justice reform, and a democracy free from big-money corruption.
People I talk with tell me that they are struggling. Costs have skyrocketed in Hawaii. Working people and middle-class families are being squeezed out of their neighborhoods by international investors. Just look at Kaka’ako: luxury condos going for $20 million a piece, right next to veterans and Native Hawaiians sleeping on the street. This is why we cannot let the same old big-money special interests decide who represents us. I’m a strong believer that when candidates stand with the people, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side.
You see, I fight for working families, because I come from one. When I was 12 years old, my father passed away unexpectedly. My mom was left caring for four children and our grandmother on her own. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom to skip meals to make sure her kids were fed. We relied on our community and government programs. I got my first callouses and paycheck in the pineapple fields, at 14 years old, to help my family with bills. We relied on our community and government programs.
I’m grateful to have come out on the other side of some incredibly hard times. My dedicated mother, teachers, and past progressive leaders gave me a shot at life. But I know many, many more have not been so lucky. That’s why I serve. In Hawaii, families lift each other up whenever we fall.
That’s what this campaign will be about. The folks who feel forgotten. Shifting real power to many, from the privileged few. Bringing old school people-centered, small donation, true public service back in style. Together, we will bring forth a new generation of progressive leadership and hope, we will fight to keep Hawaii Hawaii, and show the world what’s possible.
One last thing—I want to talk about my mentor, Mark Takai. When I was UH Student-Body President, Linda Lingle cut our university to the tune of $130 million. I wrote legislators to fight back. Mark Takai took a meeting with me. He was the first elected official I got to know. He showed me all he accomplished when he was UH student-president, and during his decades in the legislature. He inspired me to run. Mark Takai committed 20 years to this position. I want to continue to build on his legacy, and am uniquely positioned as a young person to gain the seniority and influence Hawaii needs.”
Rep. Ing is millennial, father, and third-term state representative who currently serves as Majority Policy Leader.
Ing graduated from Kamehameha Schools and served as Student Body President at UH Mānoa. He served as at-large neighborhood board member in Liliha and worked in various roles in Hawaiʻi’s private and non-profit sectors before winning State office as an underdog in 2012 at age 23.
Ing’s father graduated from Kaimuiki High School and waited tables as an ILWU union member. His mother attended Honolulu Community College and was a shoe clerk at the old Kahala Liberty House.
Rep. Ing was among the few elected officials to publicly endorse Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Presidential Primary Election. He later campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Rep. Ing has been actively involved in the anti-Trump “resistance” movement in Hawaiʻi, and has developed a political profile that includes fighting for progressive issues like same-day voter registration, marriage equality, and curtailing the influence of money in politics.
In making the announcement, Rep. Ing touted his record on women’s health, LGBTQ equality and criminal justice reform.
Rep. Ing will be announcing his “island values” progressive platform that includes equal pay for women, single-payer healthcare-for-all, tuition-free college, universal basic income, criminal justice reform, 100% renewable energy nationwide, and putting an end to big money corruption in politics.
“Standing up to Trump is important, but it’s not enough,” said Rep. Ing.
“Leaders must stand up to big-money corruption everywhere and offer a positive vision to win the world we want to see. Hawaiʻi’s cost-of-living is out of control and local families are being squeezed out of their neighborhoods by outside investors,” said Rep. Ing.
He continued saying, “People tell me that they feel like the system is leaving them behind. We can’t keep letting the same establishment elites handpick our leaders and expect things to change. We need a new way forward for our children to have a shot at success right here in Hawaiʻi. I am running a grassroots campaign to put people before profits, keep Hawaiʻi Hawaiʻi, and offer a new generation of progressive leadership,” he said.