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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Newcomer Har strong challenger in District 40

In a state where power is often aligned with incumbency, whether it be Democrat or Republican, it's sometimes hard to find formidable newcomers who are willing to throw their hat in the race.

A noteworthy exception, however, is in District 40 (Makakilo, Kapolei and Royal Kunia), perhaps one of the most interesting races in the general election. Here, Democratic newcomer and first-time office seeker Sharon Har seems uniquely qualified to represent her district.

Har deserves our endorsement over Republican incumbent Mark Moses.

As a lawyer who specializes in real estate development, Har understands what's at stake for her community and is primed to be an effective advocate for the infrastructure improvements necessary in the continuing growth of the "Second City."

The district has changed from a place Moses said once was "just cane fields with no schools planned." The new-generation residents are under 45, middle-class and moderate, creating a district where Sen. Daniel Akaka beat Rep. Ed Case by just four votes.

The profile of District 40 aptly fits Har, a one-time Mazie Hirono aide, who vows to be fiercely independent and not some rubber-stamper for her party or special interests.

Some of her ideas include making sure developer impact funds for infrastructure stay in the community instead of going into the general fund. In that case, Har's not thinking partisan, she's thinking about the people in District 40.

Of course, when incumbents have established a long track record of accomplishment, voters should continue to stay the course. That's the case with Marcus Oshiro, the Democratic leader in the House from District 39 (Wahiawa) and Democrat Roy Takumi, a 14-year-veteran from House District 36 (Pearl City, Palisades).

Takumi is known as a progressive with bold ideas on everything from healthcare to job diversification. Oshiro earned respect last session for his leadership skills when he reversed his position on the gas cap and sought compromise with the governor. Oshiro and Takumi both merit another two years.

Two other incumbents are deserving of re-election just for their experience alone. Incumbents Alex Sonson, D-35th (Waipahu, Crestview) and Marilyn Lee, D-38th (Mililani, Mililani Mauka), both have the advantage of experience over their opponents.

Only when incumbents are themselves new to the Legislature are the races a bit more competitive.

Still, young incumbents such as Blake Oshiro, D-33rd (Halawa, 'Aiea, Pearlridge), Ryan Yamane D-37th (Mililani, Waipi'o) and Jon Karamatsu, D-41st (Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele) continue to show promise and deserve re-election. Also deserving is Kymberly Pine, R-43rd ('Ewa Beach, West Loch), who has shown an ability to work with Democrats, which paid off in traffic relief after her first year.

More problematic is the case of incumbent Rida Cabanilla-Arakawa, D-42nd (Waipahu, Honouliuli, 'Ewa), a former nurse who is popular in her district. But, lately she's promoted ideas such as an underground island tunnel that seems more like futuristic fantasy than practical public policy. Republican Norm Robert, a professional telemarketer, has served on the neighborhood board and lived in the district 27 years. Though he may be worthy of consideration, he lacks substantive political experience to move to the state House. In District 42, with the absence of either a strong incumbent or challenger, The Advertiser makes no recommendation.