The Hawaii State Teachers Association is endorsing former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa in her run for Honolulu mayor, the organization announced on Monday.

“I’m incredibly honored and humbled to receive the backing of Hawaii’s teachers,” Hanabusa said, “and it’s even more special to me because this is the first time that HSTA has entered into the county arena to support candidates.”

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said Hanabusa is a highly intelligent “out of the box thinker.” Hanabusa, an attorney, successfully represented HSTA in an ethics case in 2016. The state ethics commission said in 2015 that the law prohibits teachers from accepting free travel and other benefits from tour companies for serving as chaperones on student educational trips.

“Colleen Hanabusa stood with HSTA and the keiki of Hawaii,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. Screenshot/2020

The rule meant that teachers were required to “pay out of their own pocket to take our kids on field trips,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee during the live-streamed endorsement announcement. Hanabusa argued that the ethics finding violated state law and the constitution, and HSTA won the case.

“She was just amazing in that courtroom,” Rosenlee said.

Hanabusa has also advocated for air conditioning in Hawaii classrooms, Rosenlee said. While the Honolulu mayor does not have authority over Oahu’s schools, Rosenlee said the island needs Hanabusa’s leadership.

“During a crisis, you want someone who can hit the ground running,” he said.

In Hanabusa’s last bid for office, when she ran against David Ige for governor in 2018, HSTA chose Ige over Hanabusa. In the mayor’s race, Hanabusa, a labor attorney, has gotten support from the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 368.

She is running against former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, businessman Keith Amemiya, Councilwoman Kym Pine, local TV mogul Rick Blangiardi and activist Choon James, among others.

The HSTA, which represents 13,700 public school teachers statewide, is also supporting the following candidates for the Honolulu City Council:

District 1: Anthony Makana Paris 

District 5: Calvin Say

District 7: Ryan Mandado

District 9: William Espero

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