The Chamber of Maui Political Action Committee has been endorsing candidates for many election years, and this year is no exception. However, this is the first time the committee will endorse a candidate in a federal race.
The week, immediately following today's primary election, the chamber's PAC will convene to interview candidates running for County Council, the state Legislature and Congress. To receive a committee endorsement, candidates must interview with the panel and respond to business questions about chamber priorities for their respective races. Endorsements are given to those deemed "business friendly" that understand and support business issues and will work toward creating a pro-business environment in our county, state and nation.
When you elect those who know and back your stance, you save a great deal of time and resources (in terms of education and lobbying) because they get it. Therefore, our goal is to identify the most "business-friendly" candidates possible to move us in a positive direction because major challenges are ahead that will affect the current generation and generations to come.
The majority of our members are small businesses, not Wall Street conglomerates. They are known in, care for, and are responsive to their small communities, eager to grow and create jobs. But, they are doing business in the toughest state in the nation and are constantly faced with rising costs and regulations, the burden of which often cannot be passed on. They need an environment where they cannot only survive, but thrive. That will take leadership on all levels because it means changing the status quo.
While the visitor industry brings good news, our overall economic recovery is slow, more jobs are required, broken government systems keep costs high, colossal government debt has been amassed (more than $15 trillion, or $15,874,365,457,260, as of July 2012, according to concordcoalition.org), and there is continuous talk of raising taxes (to take more money from our pockets instead of significantly reducing costs and making needed changes to bring the debt down). It is like Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
It is time for a change. All one has to do is watch national or world news to get a sense of the magnitude of the problems we face. States and whole countries are close to economic collapse, and we are not far behind.
A strong leader, who understands business and economic issues, and who will tackle the tough problems is needed to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Sen. Daniel Akaka - a seat that only opens up every 20-plus years. That is why the chamber's political action committee will make an endorsement in this race and has scheduled a debate so the community can hear from the two candidates after the primary on how they will improve the economy and business climate, create jobs, address Social Security and bring down the debt if elected to the U.S. Senate.
The public is invited to attend the event on Wednesday, from 4:45 to 6 p.m. at Iao Theater in Wailuku. The debate will serve as the committee's endorsement process for this race, and participation by candidates is required for an endorsement.
Republican Linda Lingle and Democrat Ed Case have agreed to attend. Democrat Mazie Hirono's campaign wrote: "We are not currently confirming or declining any post-primary invitations as we are focusing on the upcoming primary election. As such, we cannot make commitments until after voters have made their choice on August 11th." Should Hirono win the primary, we hope she will join in as the public deserves to hear where candidates stand on issues important to them, especially those mentioned above.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.