Hee sounds Oahu-centric

State Sen. Clayton Hee is sounding like one of those Oahu-centric lawmakers.

He is running against Maui-born and incumbent Shan Tsutsui in the Democratic lieutenant governor’s race. In a Honolulu Star-Advertiser report Tuesday, he took issue with the higher cost of running the Lieutenant Governor’s Office under Tsutsui due in part to his opening an office on Maui.

“I think it’s fair to say that his (Tsutsui’s) desire was to open an office on Maui because he lives on Maui,” Hee said in the interview. “That’s not saying if I became lieutenant governor and live in Kaneohe, I would open up an office in Kaneohe – that’s not true.

“The office of the lieutenant governor belongs in the seat of government in Honolulu.”


It is this type of attitude that our Maui County lawmakers in the state Legislature battle every year. And Hee should know better; he used to live in Maui County.

And he is forgetting the history of how Tsutsui became lieutenant governor. In the wake of the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye in 2012, Tsutsui, who was state Senate president, was first in line to replace Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to fill Inouye’s seat. As he mulled accepting the position, Tsutsui was concerned about having to move to Oahu and relocating his family with young children.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie wooed Tsutsui by offering to set up a new Maui branch of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. The governor said that: “In the past, Neighbor Island officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve. In my view this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together.”

We did not see Hee complaining about the cost then.

We agree with the governor; why does the lieutenant governor have to relocate to Oahu? And as for the cost, yes it does cost more, but what does the state get for its cost? At least on Maui, it gives state residents on the Neighbor Islands an opportunity to interact more closely and directly with state government and represents symbolically that we on the Neighbor Islands don’t have to fly or move to Oahu to conduct important state business.

Recent polls have shown Tsutsui ahead, though narrowly and with a lot of undecided voters. Hee may have thought that by raising this issue he could win over more voters.

Well, he is not winning over voters on the Neighbor Islands.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.