Five Questions: Colleen Hanabusa Ed Case is the best choice for Congress
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CONGRESS, AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO OFFER THAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER CANDIDATES?
I'm running for Congress because I believe I come with the best set of skills. And truly, due to my background and where I grew up and how I do things, things that are what I call Hawai'i values drive me. And I'm running for Congress because I believe I can take those values with me. And it is also because I believe I can best serve the people of Hawai'i and best serve the people of the First Congressional District in this capacity, in the capacity of someone in the legislative process and in the Congress of the United States.
WHAT SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE MOST PREPARED YOU FOR CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE?
You know, the experiences that I've had growing up is, of course, something that you can never ignore. But in addition to that, for the past 12 years I've been in the Legislature, many of those years spent as chair of very tough committees and the last four years as the first woman to be the head of any legislative body in the Legislature. What it has taught me are cooperation and the ability to collaborate; but more importantly, the significance and the importance of listening to people, understanding what they're saying and then crafting legislation and being able to get it through.
WHAT IS THE PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT OF YOUR LEGISLATIVE CAREER?
The proudest accomplishment of my legislative career has really been in the area of education. From the time I was elected, my pet project was always the Searider Productions out at Wai'anae High School and, more recently, Ka Waihona, which is probably one of the most popular and most successful charter schools in the state. What it shows me is basic principles that, you know, what children need is a sense of pride in themselves, no matter where they're from, and then they must have that sense of hope. And it is our responsibility to give them that. And you know, with the support of a community, the family, the structure, the principal, the teachers, you can then have a very successful program. And I always point people to Searider and to Ka Waihona as examples of how children can succeed, and how it is our obligation to ensure they succeed.
HEALTH CARE REFORM HAS BEEN ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES IN WASHINGTON. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT STEP SHOULD BE?
I'd like to be in Washington to be part of how we begin to fine-tune the whole reform package. It's not perfect; I don't think anyone would say it's perfect. I think everyone agrees that we need health care reform. The question is, how do we go about doing it? What I'd like to first start on is to be part of that process that begins to define accessibility to all. And that is, of course, the exchange process. How do we make that available? How do we ensure small businesses and individuals, small families are able to get their requisite tax credits to pay for their health care as they begin to participate in this process. I want to be able to have a say and to ensure that everyone has access. I also want to be sure that we do have the focus of primary-care physicians, which I believe are so critical in paving the way to the reform of health care.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF POSITIONED IN THE DIVISIVE AND PARTISAN LANDSCAPE ON CAPITOL HILL?
I would like to see myself positioned no different than where I am in Hawai'i. I think that if there's anything that I've shown by my years in the Legislature is the fact that you just have to learn to respect everyone, you have to learn to work with everyone. And that's why people find so amusing and so interesting that for six years Sam Slom and I have done a radio show together every Thursday morning. And I will tell you, what that has shown me is that you can always respectfully disagree. And it really is a matter of one thing: It's a matter of mutual respect. It's a matter that my word is good to you and your word is good to me.