There are six candidates in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District election. Voters will select their candidate for multiple reasons and emotions, often influenced by their own backgrounds, experience and aspirations.

Let me share some thoughts on what I consider important to me as a voter and why I am supporting Donna Mercado Kim and asking readers to vote for her.

My vote for Donna Mercado Kim has been formed by my direct work with her in the Legislature, Honolulu City Council and the community. I was the first chair of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and a UH Manoa administrator seeking equity and access for women, Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, LGBT persons, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disadvantaged individuals.

I have known Donna for over 30 years, and I have always found her to be hardworking, intelligent, experienced and most importantly, a person of integrity. These qualities she demonstrated during years of experience working for the people of Hawaii.

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim at a recent forum.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

She has gained a reputation for being a “fighter” and “tough.” Sometimes, like many women in leadership, Donna has had to overcome a negative stigma from those words, even when a different standard is applied to men. I see those qualities as her strengths.

The issues where she is most passionate — health care, education, protections for working people, environmental protection, women’s health and immigration are all under serious threat by the Trump administration policies. We will need her strength in Washington.

Donna came up through humble beginnings and her achievements are a testament to her resilience, her know-how and her knowledge of our community — and yes, her fighting spirit and toughness. I know she is critical of government abuse because she cares.

Women In Leadership

Women hold up half of the sky but are a minority in the U.S. Congress. Including more women in private and government policy-making positions is not only fair, but there is good research showing more women in leadership results in higher revenues, thoughtful policies, inclusive communities and stronger families.

Locally and nationally, we must take the #MeToo movement seriously. Women and men must demand respect and equality for women. Donna has dealt with many barriers to women in the workplace and in politics. As a single mother and caregiver for her mother, Donna personally understands the struggles of women and families.

Ed Case claims he is the most experienced candidate because he has already been a congressman. He was a congressman for four years 12 years ago and in that short time his experience and votes as a congressman have harmed us.

I would like to remind voters, particularly women voters, that Donna was an early board member of Planned Parenthood and that Ed Case voted to defund Planned Parenthood in 2005. Our representative in Congress must be a strong supporter of equal rights and fight attacks against women, families and Planned Parenthood.

At the debate held at Kamehameha Schools, Donna Kim’s claim that Ed Case was absent 48 percent of the time was misinterpreted (Congressional vote record Sept. – Dec. 2006 of the 117 votes taken Ed missed 54). Percentage aside, the information voters need to know and consider is that Ed Case had one of the highest absentee rates among his congressional peers as noted below in Civil Beat:

“According to GovTrack.us, an independent website that follows federal legislation and lawmakers, Case missed 148 of 2,435 roll call votes during his time in Congress. That accounts for 6.1 percent, which the site said is still “much worse than the median of 2.9 percent among the lifetime records of representatives serving in Dec 2006…

Congressional voting records show that Case missed a lot of votes in the lead up to the September 2006 primary. According to GovTrack, Case missed 35 percent of his votes between July and September.”

We cannot ignore the congressional voting record and facts: Ed Case was absent twice as much as his peers during his congressional career and absent a third of the time when he ran a campaign against Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Even before President Trump’s Muslim ban and attacks on immigrants, Donna has consistently supported non-discrimination against immigrants and other groups. Donna has immigrant roots (Filipino and Korean) and understands the challenges and contributions of immigrants to Hawaii. She has supported language access to government and support services for immigrants.

In Congress, she will be effective fighting for sane federal immigration laws and unification of families. Today’s climate of antagonism and partisanship in Washington requires a collaborative leader like Donna who will look critically at all policies in an effort to find bipartisan solutions for areas that she cares deeply about: affordable health care and educational opportunities for all of our young people. That is what Donna has always done for Hawaii.

Her consistent record of service over the years has demonstrated to me that she will fight against discrimination and will support equality for women, decent wages for working families, protection and opportunity for our keiki, and ensured support for kupuna through Medicare and Social Security.

I am proud to know her and ask others to join me in voting for Donna. She will be a strong and effective representative for Hawaii.

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