By: Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
Honolulu, HI – At a standing room only event coordinated by the No Vote No Grumble Coalition, all four Gubernatorial Candidates gathered this morning at a forum held at the YWCA in downtown Honolulu to address the issues of civic engagement, empowering the disenfranchised and defining the role of community based organizations serving Hawaii’s most underserved populations.
All four gubernatorial candidates agreed – community based organizations (CBO) are vital partners to State Government. Each candidate provided opening comments that highlighted their personal experiences with nonprofit organizations. If elected, all candidates articulated the necessity to engage with CBO’s to fill the gaps in state service provisions.
According to Davis, “Without non-profits, we would have anarchy. Non-profits are keeping us afloat.”
“CBO’s are foundational to our communities. They are organic and increase our value by finding partners that government can’t find,” said Ige.
To demonstrate the need to collaborate with non-profit organizations Duke Aiona added, “Government cannot provide all the services everyone needs.”
Hanneman described a three-sector economy that includes the government, private sector and non-profit sector. “With 7800 non-profit organizations, non-profits account for $4.3 billion into our states economy.”
Candidates were asked to address their plan to empower the disenfranchised.
David Ige answered, “Public education is the gateway to the disenfranchised community. We must allow communities to be a part of our decision making.”
Duke Aiona talked about providing equal opportunities through education, encouraging people to get civically involved and promoting engagement.
Mufi Haneman expressed a need to reach out to our young people. He talked about the need for mentorship and perpetuated leadership. “Lead by example. No scared um – go get um”.
Jeff Davis responded by pointing out that tourism is a risky endeavor and said “assets is how you empower the disenfranchised.”
The forum highlighted the PEW charitable trust’s 2012 Elections Performance Index report that showed Hawaii ranked number 42, one of the worst states in voter turnout. Each candidate was asked how he would remedy the situation as governor.
Jeff Davis said, “We need to get re-election focused voting out of the way. The system is broken. No more pay to play.
Duke Aiona said, “I will continue to inspire, solicit and be a model for your people. Bringing trust, respect and balance back to community.”
“People want change. Cause or candidate is why people vote. You have to inspire people. We need youth to get out and vote, we need to create good habits; we need to reach out to immigrant groups. Voting will improve our quality of life.” stated to Mufi Hanneman.
David Ige shared the need to make voting easy and convenient. He shared his support for same day registration and voter initiative.
“I have been in and around civic engagement efforts for over a decade and today’s forum was one of the most impressive I’ve been involved with,” said Alex Santiago, Program Manager of No Vote No Grumble.
“My hope is that other coalition members realize how powerful we can be if we sustain our effort going forward,” added Santiago. “Today’s forum marked the beginning of a movement towards true civic engagement.”
“As a member of the No Vote No Grumble Coalition, we are proud to have participated in today’s effort,” shared Michelle Kauhane, President & CEO at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. “The No Vote No Grumble Coalition is a living example of the need to collaborate to raise the voices of our communities. We are encouraged by the amazing participation at today’s event.”
The energy and dynamic of today’s forum seemed to indicate that civic engagement is on the rise!
No Vote No Grumble is a non-partisan initiative to increase civic engagement including registering and educating voters. Their mission is to increase civic engagement, including registering and educating voters, especially with the underrepresented/underserved populations.