Hanabusa making Congress run official
By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Government Writer
By Treena Shapiro
State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa is expected to officially announce her candidacy for the U.S. House seat in the 2nd Congressional District this morning at the Wai'anae service station that bears her family's name.
Hanabusa, 55, a labor attorney who has represented the Senate district that includes Nanakuli and Makaha for eight years, expressed interest in the congressional seat as soon as U.S. Rep. Ed Case announced in January that he would not seek re-election and would run for U.S. Senate instead.
However, as the pool of official candidates has grown, Hana-busa's name has been absent from the list of those who have pulled or filed papers to run in the Democratic primary. Prominent names on that list include City Councilman Nestor Garcia, state Sen. Clayton Hee, former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, state Sen. Gary Hooser, former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, state Sen. Ron Menor and state Rep. Brian Schatz.
While most other candidates have picked spots in downtown Honolulu to make their announcements, such as the steps of the federal building, Hanabusa selected a different type of symbol for her backdrop.
"I'm doing it in Wai'anae, where my roots are," she said yesterday, pointing out that her family has been in the 2nd Congressional District for four generations.
"We know that there's a difference between rural O'ahu, the Neighbor Islands and urban Ho-nolulu," she said. "What we need is someone in the 2nd Congressional District who is very well aware of the needs of the 2nd Congressional District."
To Hanabusa, the district's needs include addressing military issues such as live-fire training at Makua Valley or the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island and adding a 1,000-soldier Stryker Brigade to Schofield Barracks.
Unfunded mandates affecting the schools, such as the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, also need to be addressed, Hanabusa said.
Many of the schools facing the biggest challenges in meeting the goals of these two federal laws are in the 2nd Congressional District.
"It is in the rural schools and the Neighbor Island schools," Hanabusa said. "We get all these needs from the feds and they are not meeting the needs of the people of the state."
Hanabusa would also like to see more attention paid to universal services that could particularly help former plantation workers, veterans and recent immigrants, such as healthcare and Social Security.
With the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill receiving national attention after a failed attempt to bring it to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote, Hanabusa, currently chairwoman of the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs committee in the state Senate, said she thinks her record will show an understanding of Hawaiian issues and entitlements.
Hanabusa, the Senate majority leader, has introduced several pieces of key legislation including bills that called for a repeal of the controversial traffic camera law, a comprehensive ceded land inventory and tax credits to stimulate construction and jobs in Ko Olina.
The senator is in the middle of a four-year term and will not have to resign to run for federal office.
Reach Treena Shapiro at email@example.com.