More Filipino Candidates Running for Public Office in 2020

By Jim Bea Sampaga

Filipinos are the fastest growing and second largest ethnic minority in the State of Hawaii. And their large presence is visible in the 2020 Elections as incumbents or first-time candidates for political office. With the Primary Election already in progress with the new all-mail system, the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle reached out to other Filipino American candidates who were not featured in last issue’s special coverage. Below are the candidates, their background and platform on the issues.


JANE CLEMENT
RUNNING FOR: Hawaii County Councilmember District 7

Why I’m running: Public-private partnerships are crucial now more than ever, and I am committed to building those critical relationships. I am running for office to bring my commitment to making a positive difference for others and my experience of service to the Hawaii County District 7 seat.

Background: Jane served as a legislative assistant to a former councilchair Dru Kanuha, the President of the Kailua Village Business Improvement District, and the Government Affairs Committee Chair of the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

Currently, she’s the Hawaiʻi Island Commissioner to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, an officer on the Keahole Center for Sustainability Board, and an active member of the Kona Visayan Club, West Hawaiʻi Community Forums, and the Economic Development Committee of the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce. 

Platform: I will commit to seeking ways Hawaii County can help the private sector create more higher-paying jobs to stimulate our economy. I will make the creation of more housing that local residents can afford. As a council representative, I will work to ensure that we hold the line on tax increases and wasteful spending.


SHANE PALACAT-NELSEN
RUNNING FOR: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Trustee At-Large

Why I’m running: OHA has an important role and I’m running to lead OHA through the “new normal” as it directs and stretches its funding, land, and staff for the greatest good.

Background: I’m the OHA candidate who can balance business and culture. I currently work for OHA, previously worked for Governor Abercrombie, and 15 years in the resort industry. Raised in Kona.

Platform: Increase the trust between OHA and the beneficiaries they serve; Improve capacity to assess needs and respond accordingly; and be more responsive in facilitating discourse among Native Hawaiians. Tunggal maysa kadatayo ket makapagbutos para iti Office of Hawaiian Affairs! Bawat isa sa atin ay maaring bumoto para sa Office of Hawaiian Affairs!




JOSEPH KAAHEMA SIMPLICIANO JR
RUNNING FOR: State House, District 44 (Maili, Waianae, Makaha and Makua)

Why I’m running:
I want to be an extension of the people’s voice. I want to bring transparency and do what is right for the people.

Background: I am a Combat Veteran with 5 tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am a very proactive member of my community who does clean ups and try to solve problems. I am also a member of the Waianae neighborhood board and the Harbormaster at Waianae.

Platform: Food sustainability/Agriculture, Homelessness, Traffic, Conservation and protection of our natural resources, truly sustainable energy without absorbing acres of land for a solar farm or win turbine which could be used for planting crops. Government accountability and transparency.


EARL TSUNEYOSHI
RUNNING FOR: Honolulu City Councilmember District 9 (Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Mililani Town, West Loch, Iroquois Point, and portions of Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach)

Why I’m running: My vision is to continue my service to our community and to bring my fresh proven leadership experience based on integrity and doing what is right to make informed decisions that will improve the quality of life of our community.

Background: I am a West Point Graduate and combat (2x Iraq, 1 x Afghanistan) proven leader that has served abroad to protect our country and our way of life.  I continue to serve our community in the Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG) and am currently activated in support of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Platform: Moving forward in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical for Hawaii’s government on all levels to work together and to be on a unified front focused on the best interests of our community and to take decisive action that will allow us to overcome this time of uncertainty.


TANTE URBAN
RUNNING FOR: Hawaii County Mayor

Why I’m running: I wish to change the political landscape of the Big Island by bringing new leadership, a business mindset, and out-of-the-box problem solving and decision making.

Background: Restaurant owner, Real Estate Investor and former Realtor Associate. My 35 years of experience in business has provided me the skills and capability to lead and to make hard sensible decisions.

Platform: My goals are economic recovery and economic diversification. In this time of COVID-19 pandemic resulting in extreme hardships to families, Hawaii County must lead by example by balancing the existing budget.


DOMINIC YAGONG
RUNNING FOR: Hawaii County Councilmember District 1 (Portion of South Hilo, North Hilo, Hāmākua, and Portion of Waimea)

Why I’m running: COVID-19 has placed our County Government in uncharted waters.  The financial disaster that we are facing will take experienced leadership to navigate through these unprecedented times.

Background: I was elected to the Council seat 6 times and served for 12 years.  I was Chairman of the County Council as well as the Chairman of the Finance Committee.

Platform: People are struggling in my district and we need to get people safely back to work to begin to rejuvenate our economy.  We also must focus on diversifying our economy.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Other Fil-Am candidates who were not included in this cover story did not respond as of our press time.This article is a continuation of “Filipino Americans Running for Public Office in 2020” article featured in Hawaii Filipino Chronicle’s July 18 supplement issue. We reached out to Filipino candidates we missed in the previous article.


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