The Aug. 13 primary is just just about a month away and it seems like all we are writing is election stories.
At least that’s how it seems to those of us trying to give voters a meaningful look at the candidates and the issues. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that way to a number of people who are running for office who think we are not doing nearly enough. Those are the folks that we in the news business often refer to as minor or second-tier candidates.
Quite a few of these candidates are capable, competent people who have had solid careers that would seem to make them well-positioned for public service. The sad truth of it is that they don’t stand much of a chance of getting elected because they are not career politicians. They don’t have the name recognition, the political network or the cash flow to mount a viable campaign against an entrenched incumbent who also has worked hard to be a good public servant.
These 10 candidates were deemed top tier for the purposes of the first major televised prime time debate of the 2016 campaign on Fox News.
That’s not unique to Hawaii. You probably remember the convoluted debates earlier this year in the Republican presidential campaign. There were so many candidates that national debates had to be split into two tiers. That caused a lot of howls from the people who were relegated to the second tier.
The campaign for Honolulu mayor is as close as we come to an overcrowded field this year. Eleven people are vying for the seat. Several of them have reached out to complain that they are being shut out of debates and other coverage because the media is focused only on the incumbent Kirk Caldwell and two well-known challengers, former Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Congressman Charles Djou.
Last week, we heard cries of foul play from a couple of candidates who were unhappy they were being excluded from what would have been the first debate of the season on Hawaii Public Radio. That debate ended up falling through when Djou decided not to participate. But not before HPR put out these guidelines:
“Because of realistic time constraints and to promote a more thorough discussion of issues, we are limiting the debate to candidates who have previously been elected to a senior government office. We will cover other campaigns and issues raised among other candidates as news warrants between now and the election.”
That’s a pretty standard policy for local news media here. The voters are the ones who lose when there are so many candidates on stage that each one gets to say just a few words about each issue.
But for us to take you seriously, you need to be serious about yourself. Like putting together a decent campaign website that outlines your positions on issues. And you certainly need to respond to the candidate questionnaire we tied to send to all candidates for political office this year. If you don’t even call or email us back, it doesn’t seem like you really want us to report on your campaign.
I don’t think anyone will object to us not spending much time with mayoral candidate Mike Powers, who told us he is in fact running for “Lord Mayor.” Here’s what he wrote in answer to one of the questions we sent to all candidates for the office. And this is exactly how it came in:
“The Office of Lord Mayor is supposed to to be non partisan but wether we like it or not we poor fools are slaves of the National Democrat Party ie
The Big Five, The Honolulu Police Commission, the pro monopoly, early 20th Century “Jones Act” and more recently in the last 25 years “USO”, the
Honolulu based Samoan Crime Syndicate, who control the drug culture that has mestastacized in to OCCC and HPD since the Kealoha’s rise to
Our Nouvo Gestapo mess over on Beretania.”
And here is the photo he sent:
Mike Powers says he is running for Lord Mayor.
Enough said about Mike Powers.
But there are a few other people running for mayor who are serious about their candidacy but are just having trouble breaking into the established political lineup. They likely won’t get an invite to share the stage with Carlisle, Djou and Caldwell in a major debate, but we have invited those who gave some thoughtful attention to our Q&A to join us for an election-year edition of Pod Squad, the talk show hosted by our chief political writer, Chad Blair. We’ll interview each one separately and the discussion will be prominently displayed in our elections section and in our podcast section.
Please give a listen to the first of these candidates, Ron Hochuli, a retired Merrill Lynch vice president who is now a member of the Ewa Beach Neighborhood Board.
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Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at email@example.com or call her at 808-377-0561.