Two students weigh in on Hawaii's Governor Race


The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, November 6, 2022 as part of the “Raise Your Hand” column in the Insight section.

RYH November

JOSH GREEN: A leader of action

By Seyeon Moon, 'Iolani School graduate, c/o of 2022 graduate and is at George Washington University, c/o of 2026 (left)

Josh Green is the candidate who will advance Hawaii to a brighter future without sacrificing our community’s core values.

Over the decades, our state has transformed in ways our ancestors could have never imagined. While some innovations from abroad have promoted progression, others have threatened Hawaii’s culture and values. In this era of rapid and widespread change, we need forward-thinking leaders who appreciate and treasure our state as much as we do.

During his 18 years of leadership, Green has not compromised Hawaii’s core principles. His character reminds me of Queen Liliuokalani’s teaching that one must act with the perfect degree of flexibility. She believed that while an individual who is too flexible neglects boundaries, an inflexible one stifles progress.

Aligned with the queen’s philosophy, Green is open-minded to change while never losing sight of the needs and desires of residents. His top three goals as governor are affordable housing, reducing homelessness, and diversifying the economy.

The Kauhale initiative is one way Green has been preserving the Hawaiian traditions in our communities. He has been building Kauhale communities with partner organizations to offer affordable housing for formerly homeless residents. The project emphasizes the Hawaiian value of community to foster a sense of belonging and ownership among its residents.

Unlike many politicians, Green is constantly initiating and executing innovative solutions, such as the Kauhale project for our housing and homeless crisis. He has been one of the few Hawaii leaders who have taken action to solve these issues. His productive leadership is refreshing from the typical empty promises of Hawaii politics.

He will lead Hawaii into a brighter future without sacrificing our core values.

— Seyeon Moon

In addition to affordable housing and reducing homelessness, he plans to diversify the economy as our next governor. For college students like me, we need a reliable leader who will solidify our ability to return and stay in Hawaii. The high cost of living and lack of jobs has driven away many sons, daughters, and grandchildren. But Green’s priority to diversify the economy will create new job opportunities for generations today and for those to come.

While his top three goals are not easy to accomplish, Green has proven to be a hard-working leader who champions challenges and obstacles. When COVID-19 hit, the lieutenant governor did not take the easy way out like many politicians and was transparent about the pandemic. He went beyond his responsibilities and used his experience as a physician to educate the public. His famous whiteboard videos provided numbers and data inaccessible to our isolated kupuna who struggled with advanced technology. Looking back, many can thank him for not compromising his integrity and responsibilities in a time of extreme uncertainty.

Green’s 18 years of consistent leadership credit him as the most trustable candidate for governor. He will lead Hawaii into a brighter future without sacrificing our core values. A vote for him is a vote for the preservation of our state and people. His governorship will be a chance for us to reform our state so we can pass it down to the next generation with pride.

Many assume that Hawaii will always elect a Democratic candidate, but this outcome is impossible without voter participation. Every voting resident has the responsibility to take part in the election. We must all vote to reflect the public’s voice accurately.

DUKE AIONA: Wise and will deliver

By Sanoe Songsong, Kamehameha School, c/o of 2020 graduate, and is at University of Hawaii, c/o of 2024 (right)

As a member of the younger generation born and raised in Hawaii, I have grown up seeing the effects of empty promises made by our elected officials. Promises that silence the voices of Hawaii’s people rather than listening to them. Promises that only stayed promises. These empty “promises” made by our leaders not only breed discouragement and apathy but equate to outright deceit.

Leaders of our state who have made these empty promises have left us hopeless, especially the younger generations. As time has passed, many of us have progressively lost hope in being able to comfortably and safely live here in Hawaii.

Based on the current state of our community — with projects that are never completed on time or within budget, the ever-increasing cost of living, lack of real justice for victims of crime, and no visible evidence of change — we need a leader who will not just make promises, but one who seeks to understand different perspectives and who is willing to act. We need someone truly wise and experienced in their work. We need someone who can change our outlooks from hopelessness to hopefulness. Most importantly, we need someone we can trust, who will deliver, and who will reconcile our negative perceptions of leadership in Hawaii.

That is why I am choosing to vote for Duke Aiona for our next governor.

As a born and raised local Hawaiian, I can trust that Aiona understands the culture, the people of Hawaii, and how to serve our community best. He appreciates and relates to the unique lifestyle of our local community and gives me confidence that he will make decisions with our best interests at heart. Aiona not only understands but has true empathy for the people of Hawaii, free from self-serving political ambitions or greed.

As a born and raised local Hawaiian, I can trust that Aiona understands the culture, the people of Hawaii, and how to serve our community best.

— Sanoe Songsong

As a passionate sportsman throughout his high school and college career, and as a coach, Aiona recognizes and applies the value of working as a team — particularly with those with different skills, experiences and perspectives. Aiona also is an accomplished legal professional and has an admirable track record as a judge and former lieutenant governor of our state.

Sadly, drug abuse is a tremendous issue here in Hawaii and has had devastating effects on local families and communities. Aiona is committed to combating drug abuse for our people, which endangers our safety and the future of our youth. He has actually taken action toward solving this issue by initiating Hawaii’s very first drug court program. This program offers necessary drug rehabilitation, and not only ensures more stability and safety for our people, but a second chance for those who suffered too.

Aiona has been making a positive impact on our entire community and I have no doubt that he will continue to transform Hawaii for the better as governor. Ultimately, Duke Aiona is a leader I can trust to deliver on his promises through tangible solutions.

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