Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Matt Binder
HAMAKUA COAST, Hawaii – The first State House district covers the Hamakua Coast, and this election season we will see a race between an incumbent Democrat and a Libertarian.
Representative Mark Nakashima is once again seeking re-election.
“I was born and raised right here on Hawaii Island,” Nakashima recently told a crowded candidate forum in Hilo. “I’m a graduate of Honoka’a high school. I’m a teacher by trade and I returned to Honokaa, my Alma mater, and I taught there until I kind of fell out of the classroom. I started doing work with the HSTA. I served as our legislative liaison for the teachers for a number of years. Now, I find myself in the legislature itself.”
It was a good year at the Capitol for Nakashima, if you consider how he helped usher the minimum wage increase legislation through the House. Nakashima chairs the Committee on Labor and Public Employment.
“Raising the minimum wage is good for Hawaii,” Nakashima announced from the podium during the bill signing a few months go. “It’s good for our people, and its good for our economy.”
Nakashima commented more recently: “It raises the economic ability of our working poor. Now, we are able to really move forward and address those issues.”
Nakashima has no primary opponent, but he will face Libertarian Eric Weinert in the general election.
“I’m 61 years old,” Weinert said at the same candidate forum “I’m a farmer and businessman in the Hilo area. I’m been married to my wife Jennifer for over 32 years. And when I’m asked – and I look to myself and say, ‘why am i running’ – it’s really because I care about the future of our island. It’s been so good to me and I care about our kids and our kids’ kids.”
Eric Weinert may appear familiar to those who followed the Hawaii County Council’s GMO debate last year. Weinert took a prominent role in defense of biotech.
“I’m the general manager for Calavo Growers,” Weinert told us at a pro-GMO rally last year. “We’re the largest exporter of Hawaii Island papayas to the U.S. mainland and we grow all rainbow papaya – which is a GMO Papaya. We want the choice and we want the consumer to have a choice. Don’t take that away.”
“My focus will be to support all local sustainable farmers, renewable energy and a healthy environment.” Weinert said more recently. “This is my home.”