Do you know who you will be voting for? Are you taking the time to look beyond sign waving, the quantity and size of candidate signs, and the trinkets they hand out to learn who they are, if they care about your issues, what they will do about them, and how they have voted in the past (if they are an incumbent)? It is vital to do your due diligence at election time because this is a crucial election and those who serve will be making heavy decisions for us all.
With a presidential election, it is important to assess how you feel about the economy, the plan for moving us forward, how jobs will be grown and where they will come from, how the massive and growing debt will be addressed so that it does not devastate our children and grandchildren.
We have a rare opportunity with a U.S. Senate seat open as this position is typically held for over 20 years. This race has 11 candidates running, including multiple Democrats and Republicans. Front-runners Ed Case (D) and Mazie Hirono (D) are expected to square off during the primary to challenge Linda Lingle (R).
In addition, a U.S. Representative is seat open, with eight people vying for the office, with Tulsi Gabbard (D) and Mufi Hanneman (D) leading and running very close in the polls.
In a number of races, the decision of who will serve has already been made as many incumbents are unopposed. They are:
* State Senate District 6, Shan Tsutsui.
* State House District 8, Joe Souki.
* Council East Maui, Robert Carroll.
* Council West Maui, Elle Cochran.
* Council Makawao-Haiku-Paia, Mike White.
* Council Lanai, Riki Hokama.
Aside from Senator Tsutsui and Representative Souki, every other state lawmaker is in a contested race. They are:
* State Senate District 6, Roz Baker (D), Bart Mulvihill (R).
* State Senate District 7, J. Kalani English (D), Barbara Haliniak (D), Kanohowailuku Helm (N).
* House District 9, Gil Keith-Agaran (D), Joe Pontanilla (D).
* House District 10, Edward Kaahui (D), Chayne Marten (R), Angus McKelvey (D).
* House District 11, Joe Bertram III (D), George Fontaine (R ), Netra Halperin (D), Colin Hanlon (D), Kaniela Ing (D).
* House District 12, Ekolu Kalama (R ), Kyle Yamashita (D).
* House District 13, Mele Carroll (D), Simon Russell (R).
Nearly half of the County Council has been re-elected with four of nine members running unchallenged. The five remaining races include:
* Council Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu, Joseph Blackburn II, Lisa Gapero, Michael Victorino.
* Council Kahului, Alan Fukuyama, Don Guzman, Erin McLaughlin.
* Council South Maui, Don Couch, Alana Kay.
* Council Upcountry, Gladys Baisa, Richard Pohle.
* Council Molokai, Stacy Crivello, Wilson Peters.
All races are important for the people of Maui and impact our future. However, six of 20 races (30 percent) are already decided, making it essential for us to know the other candidates to make informed choices.
We strive to help by endorsing candidates each election. The Chamber of Maui Political Action Committee unites individuals and businesses in efforts to elect "business-friendly" candidates that understand economic principles and will encourage business and community prosperity. Our work includes:
* Endorsing candidates deemed to be the most "business friendly" during the Chamber's endorsement process.
* Setting a "pro-business" agenda and assessing where candidates for elected office stand based on that agenda.
* Holding elected officials accountable for their votes on important business issues and Chamber priorities.
Look for our endorsements in August to help prepare for the general election on Nov. 6.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.