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SENATE 6TH DISTRICT SEAT: Health care, education top candidates’ lists

WAILUKU­Neither of the Republicans vying for the chance to unseat state Sen. J. Kalani English has political experience.

But first-time candidates Robb Finberg and Elaine Yamashita Slavinsky say their leadership abilities qualify them for one of Maui County’s three Senate seats in the state Legislature.

English is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for his 6th Senate District seat, which covers Upcountry, East Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Green Party candidate Shaun Stenshol also is unchallenged for his party’s nomination. Both will advance to the Nov. 2 general election for a three-way contest with either Finberg or Slavinsky.

Finberg, 54, has served as Grace Church pastor in Pukalani since 1988. He was head of another congregation on Kauai from 1979 to 1987. Slavinsky, 59, had more than 20 years of experience at Maui Memorial Medical Center before retiring as the hospital’s director of nursing. She became clinical director for Hospice Maui, but she resigned after deciding to test Maui’s political waters this year.

“I have a lot of experience in leadership, and I believe I can be a good negotiator given my background,” she said.

Finberg said he also has leadership qualities and likens his position with that of an elected official.

“It’s a people-involved occupation in both cases. You have to be a public servant,” he said.

Slavinsky said she wants to give back to a community that she’s thrived in for more than two decades. “Hawaii has given so much to me that I want now to give back,” she said.

Finberg said he’s found potential constituents eager to listen to his ideas and enthusiastic about sharing the issues that matter to them. “It’s a lot more enjoyable than I expected,” Finberg said about the campaign. “People want to talk and they want to listen and it’s very much engaging,” he said.

Slavinsky said citizens have told her about their need for quality water, long-term health care and support for the agricultural industry. She said she initially found it difficult not to ask for votes, but to request financial backing of her campaign. “But I realized this campaign is not about me anymore. So many people have supported me and are counting on me,” she said.

If he’s able to become a legislator, Finberg said he would attack tort reform and initiate a bill capping what companies can charge for liability insurance.

He said his church had to cancel a youth camp for the first time this year because of the high costs of insurance policies. Finberg said obstetricians have been unable to work in places like Molokai and Lanai because of skyrocketing insurance premiums.

If she were elected, Slavinsky said she would work on legislation supporting long-term care services including funding for more facilities, education for care at home by families and tax incentives for long-term care insurance.

“My passions are with health care and education,” she said. Slavinsky said she would support whatever’s necessary to get dialysis treatment available in Hana and on Molokai.

Both candidates said they support locally elected school boards and would back Gov. Linda Lingle’s proposal to give voters a chance to decide the issue in a referendum.

They also agree that the agriculture industry needs state support.

Slavinsky said she plans to pursue a job as a substitute teacher “so I can get to see what teaching is like. I think that’ll be an eye-opening experience.”

Finberg said he has seen first-hand the needs of a classroom because one of his children attends public school, and he’s volunteered to read to children at Kula Elementary.

He said he would “absolutely, with no hesitation” vote to increase teachers’ salaries. Finberg said he would also approve any money appropriations that go directly to the classrooms to benefit teachers and students.

Slavinsky declined to compare herself to Finberg. But, when asked to describe her strengths as a candidate, she said: “The good thing is I’m not a career politician. I’m a concerned citizen, and I can feel for people.”

Slavinsky described herself as “socially moderate, a fiscal conservative, ready to commit full time” to political office.

Finberg points to his experience in leadership in nonprofit organizations with his church as well as with community groups. He said, unlike Slavinsky, he’s had the experience of being an employer and knowing what it takes to keep a business going while supporting a work force.

Finberg said not many people view a church pastor as an employer, but he said he’s given many people jobs and has dealt first-hand with issues of workers’ compensation, insurance and health care benefits.

“Unless you’ve had people reliant on you, you won’t have an appreciation for what employers go through,” he said.

Being the father of two children, ages 9 and 7, Finberg said he’s sensitive to issues dealing with family and education. “Being a parent, it affects everything I do,” he said.

Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at claudine@mauinews.com.Neither of the Republicans vying for the chance to unseat state Sen. J. Kalani English has political experience.

But first-time candidates Robb Finberg and Elaine Yamashita Slavinsky say their leadership abilities qualify them for one of Maui County’s three Senate seats in the state Legislature.

English is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for his 6th Senate District seat, which covers Upcountry, East Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Green Party candidate Shaun Stenshol also is unchallenged for his party’s nomination. Both will advance to the Nov. 2 general election for a three-way contest with either Finberg or Slavinsky.

Finberg, 54, has served as Grace Church pastor in Pukalani since 1988. He was head of another congregation on Kauai from 1979 to 1987. Slavinsky, 59, had more than 20 years of experience at Maui Memorial Medical Center before retiring as the hospital’s director of nursing. She became clinical director for Hospice Maui, but she resigned after deciding to test Maui’s political waters this year.

“I have a lot of experience in leadership, and I believe I can be a good negotiator given my background,” she said.

Finberg said he also has leadership qualities and likens his position with that of an elected official.

“It’s a people-involved occupation in both cases. You have to be a public servant,” he said.

Slavinsky said she wants to give back to a community that she’s thrived in for more than two decades. “Hawaii has given so much to me that I want now to give back,” she said.

Finberg said he’s found potential constituents eager to listen to his ideas and enthusiastic about sharing the issues that matter to them. “It’s a lot more enjoyable than I expected,” Finberg said about the campaign. “People want to talk and they want to listen and it’s very much engaging,” he said.

Slavinsky said citizens have told her about their need for quality water, long-term health care and support for the agricultural industry. She said she initially found it difficult not to ask for votes, but to request financial backing of her campaign. “But I realized this campaign is not about me anymore. So many people have supported me and are counting on me,” she said.

If he’s able to become a legislator, Finberg said he would attack tort reform and initiate a bill capping what companies can charge for liability insurance.

He said his church had to cancel a youth camp for the first time this year because of the high costs of insurance policies. Finberg said obstetricians have been unable to work in places like Molokai and Lanai because of skyrocketing insurance premiums.

If she were elected, Slavinsky said she would work on legislation supporting long-term care services including funding for more facilities, education for care at home by families and tax incentives for long-term care insurance.

“My passions are with health care and education,” she said. Slavinsky said she would support whatever’s necessary to get dialysis treatment available in Hana and on Molokai.

Both candidates said they support locally elected school boards and would back Gov. Linda Lingle’s proposal to give voters a chance to decide the issue in a referendum.

They also agree that the agriculture industry needs state support.

Slavinsky said she plans to pursue a job as a substitute teacher “so I can get to see what teaching is like. I think that’ll be an eye-opening experience.”

Finberg said he has seen first-hand the needs of a classroom because one of his children attends public school, and he’s volunteered to read to children at Kula Elementary.

He said he would “absolutely, with no hesitation” vote to increase teachers’ salaries. Finberg said he would also approve any money appropriations that go directly to the classrooms to benefit teachers and students.

Slavinsky declined to compare herself to Finberg. But, when asked to describe her strengths as a candidate, she said: “The good thing is I’m not a career politician. I’m a concerned citizen, and I can feel for people.”

Slavinsky described herself as “socially moderate, a fiscal conservative, ready to commit full time” to political office.

Finberg points to his experience in leadership in nonprofit organizations with his church as well as with community groups. He said, unlike Slavinsky, he’s had the experience of being an employer and knowing what it takes to keep a business going while supporting a work force.

Finberg said not many people view a church pastor as an employer, but he said he’s given many people jobs and has dealt first-hand with issues of workers’ compensation, insurance and health care benefits.

“Unless you’ve had people reliant on you, you won’t have an appreciation for what employers go through,” he said.

Being the father of two children, ages 9 and 7, Finberg said he’s sensitive to issues dealing with family and education. “Being a parent, it affects everything I do,” he said.

Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at claudine@mauinews.com.

 
 
 
 
 

 

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