I confess I experienced a few nerve-wracking moments at the beginning, when much of the nation was turning up red on those color-coded Electoral College maps. But in the end Obama pulled it off, and I'm glad. Because although my first choice would be honey-sweetened root beer, I've always preferred Coke to Pepsi.
It was especially exciting to see more women elected to the Senate, including Claire McCaskill, who beat that idiot Todd Akin, Elizabeth Warren, our own Mazie Hirono, who trounced Linda Lingle, and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay candidate to serve in that body. Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, became the first Hindu elected to Congress.
Disappointingly, the GMO labeling initiative failed in California, though what do you expect, when the opposition, led by Monsanto, poured at least $45.6 million into defeating the measure? Kinda tells you something when they're willing to spend that large to make sure folks don't know what's really in their food. Will Obama finally get out of bed with the chemical companies and honor his 2007 campaign promise to label genetically modified foods? “Because,” as he said then, “Americans have a right to know what they're buying.”
On a brighter note, both Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. Aurai! Finally a few glimmers of light at the end of the drug war tunnel. Now we'll see if Obama's Justice Department sides with the drug czars and drug cartels and tries to beat them down with the supremacy of federal law. I love that this is now turning into a states' rights issue.
Locally, of course, the big news was Justin Kollar's big win over Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho. As in 55.8% to 37.1%. As in soundly defeated. As in people literally dancing in the streets, according to a text from one of the reveler's at his campaign party.
One reason I supported Justin – aside from the fact that he isn't Shay — was hearing him say that he is not into criminalizing addiction or poverty, factors that play a prominent role in the majority of prosecutions on Kauai. I know Justin is really smart, so I'm hoping he'll be able to pair that intelligence with compassion and develop some innovative programs. I'd really love to see him expand and enrich the diversion programs offered by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and come up with more “give back” options, like community service.
Now that Police Chief Darryl Perry has been kind of isolated by Shay's defeat and Judge Randal Valenciano's ruling that the mayor can discipline him, perhaps he and Justin can mend fences and work together again — the way KPD and OPA are supposed to. Solette, my dear, can you bury the hatchet? And Shay, can you depart gracefully, without leaving the office in shambles?
The other big news was the change on the Council. I thought Gary Hooser was going to replace Tim Bynum and Ross Kagawa was going to fill in for Dickie Chang, leaving us with essentially the same Council makeup. But the voters kicked out KipuKai Kualii instead of Tim, which changes the power dynamics considerably. As in Mel Rapozo has lost his two sidekicks, and will need to play a little nicer if he wants to get anywhere.
And since Nadine Nakamura and JoAnn Yukimura were the top vote-getters, respectively, perhaps Jay Furfaro will relinquish his role as Council Chair. I give him credit for managing Council sessions that became particularly unruly when Shay was going nuts, but Nadine is extremely competent and understands the value of decorum. Why not let her run the show?
I'm super glad to see Gary Hooser back in local government. Is it too much to hope that Gary, Nadine, JoAnn and Tim will form a progressive coalition? We'll have to wait and see how Ross Kagawa works out, though I can't say I was encouraged to read he'd learned the Council ropes at Ron Kouchi's elbow...
The county charter amendments were poorly worded, and the explanations were not especially helpful or objective, which perhaps explains why voters approved measures that make it even harder for citizens to get initiatives and referendums on the ballot. Auwe.
They did, however, wisely defeat a measure that would have made it easier to keep appointing the same-old, same-olds to county boards and commissions without requiring them to take a year's break in between. Can we please freshen up some of those panels?
It was kind of gagging to see Billy Swain — as in Hanalei boater and Maryanne Kusaka supporter — win the Kauai vote for the Kauai OHA seat, but when the rest of the state's vote was factored in, he lost soundly and Dan Ahuna got in. Haunani Apoliona, meanwhile, retained her at-large seat. I thought Walter Ritte would do better than fourth place, coming in behind even Kelii Akina, the anti-Hawaiian candidate. Still, when you look at all the blank votes statewide in the OHA races, it's time to revamp that election process.