* EDITOR'S NOTE - The stories published today are the final parts of a series covering contested legislative and County Council seats and County Charter and state constitutional amendments leading up to Tuesday's general election.
South Maui residents will be deciding Maui's most hotly contested race: the face-off between incumbent Republican state House Rep. George Fontaine and Democratic hopeful Kaniela Ing.
GEORGE FONTAINE, incumbent Republican state House Rep.
KANIELA ING, Democratic hopeful
The candidates have been campaigning hard to represent the district that encompasses Kihei, Wailea and Makena. Competing yard signs and banners are plastered throughout the district, and multiple postcards have been sent out in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's general election.
Fontaine, 52, has held the seat the past two years and touts his longevity and involvement in the South Maui community - having lived there for more than two decades - for setting him apart from his opponent.
"I've been actively working in the community here for well over 20 years in South Maui," said
HOUSE DISTRICT 11
GEORGE R. FONTAINE
Born: Sept. 28, 1960; Los Angeles
Occupation: State representative
Elected offices held: State House of Representatives, 2010-12
Education: Associate of science, administration of justice, University of Hawaii Maui College (formerly Maui Community College), 1987
Community involvement: Past district governor, Rotary International, District 5000; past vice chairman, Maui County Civil Service Commission; past board member, Na Hale O Maui; past president, Kihei Community Association; past president, Rotary Club of Kihei-Wailea
Family: Married, two children
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Born: Dec. 24, 1988; Wailuku
Elected offices: University of Hawaii at Manoa student body president, at-large board member Neighborhood Board, District 14, 2010-2011
Education: Master's degree in public administration, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2012; government courses at American University, Washington, D.C.; bachelor's degree in psychology and political science, UH-Manoa, 2010; Maui Community College, 2006-2007; Kamehameha Schools Maui, Arts and Communications Academy, 2006
Community involvement: Co-founder/director - Roots Rhythm Foundation; three-time Relay for Life team leader
Fontaine, a retired captain with the Maui Police Department. "Kaniela moved into the district in April. . . . I've been here all this time, working with this community and building partnerships and friendships here to try to address issues and to solve problems. And I think that's the big difference; there's no comparison."
He cited his involvement with the Kihei Community Association, Na Hale O Maui and a homelessness alliance, among others.
Ing, 23, counters that he's rooted in Maui, having been born and raised on the island. He says "quintessential values" set him apart from his opponent.
"I've identified Maui as my home my entire life, and I come from four generations here," said Ing, who moved away to attend school on Oahu, where he earned a master's in public administration and a bachelor's degree in psychology and political science, both from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"When you're raised on Maui, you learn the values of this place," he said. "And that's community, that's working together, it's working hard but making sure that no matter how successful you are, you help out those less advantaged than you are. And that's the aloha spirit. My opponent has shown that he's not about that."
Ing accuses Fontaine of working behind the scenes to smear his campaign and shift focus away from the issues.
"He has run an unprecedented, maligning, mudslinging campaign against me, questioning everything from my birthplace to my absolutely clean campaign finances to picking apart a blog I made in college to help engage young leaders," Ing said. "That's not Maui style."
Fontaine adamantly denies having anything to do with two complaints the Hawaii Republican Party has filed against Ing with the state Campaign Spending Commission.
(Last week, the commission fined Ing $375 for three violations. He has the right to appeal, although he acknowledged making "simple mistakes" in reporting his campaign's activities to the commission.)
Fontaine says he's run "nothing but a positive campaign."
"The mailers we've sent out talk about my service, my community involvement and my family. As for my saying anything against his campaign, I've never done that," Fontaine said. "It's frustrating because I have been really positive, and I've insisted that my campaign keep it that way."
Getting the long-awaited Kihei public high school built for the district has been a central campaign issue.
Both candidates say making the campus a reality will be a top priority if elected.
State funding to do site work for the project - planned for a 77-acre parcel mauka of Piilani Highway between Kulanihakoi and Waipuilani gulches - lapsed in 2010 before Fontaine was in office.
Fontaine said now that the state Department of Education has purchased the needed land and completed a final environmental impact statement, legislative funding requests can be made to move ahead with the project.
Ing blames Fontaine for allowing the project to stall.
"The reality is the funding made it through the state Senate but never made it through the state House. The funding that lapsed was never recovered," Ing said. "The governor is likely to include it in his biennial budget, but he needs someone who can work with him and caucus with the rest of the Maui delegation. I've garnered the support of all of those guys."
Looking ahead, Fontaine said another priority would be addressing the state's massive unfunded liability for public pension benefits and retiree health benefits.
Ing says one of his priorities would be to repeal the controversial Public Lands Development Corp., a state entity created during the 2011 legislative session to develop state lands and generate revenues for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
While acknowledging that the GOP is in the minority, Fontaine discredits criticism that he's been ineffective as a lawmaker.
He said that since taking office, he has either co-introduced or co-sponsored 109 pieces of legislation, 12 of which became law.
"I don't wear my party hat around the state Capitol," Fontaine said. "I work for the people of South Maui, and I believe I'm well respected because of my background and experience."
Ing called it misleading for Fontaine to take credit for bills that were co-introduced or co-sponsored.
"Touting bills that you co-signed is very misleading. It doesn't make it yours, and it doesn't benefit South Maui if you can't introduce your own bills," Ing said. "I understand the process. I've acquired six years of higher education to learn it, and I've spent time working at every level of government from neighborhood boards to Capitol Hill."
Fontaine said crafting legislation often requires working within bipartisan, interest-based caucuses in the House. He said it's rare for a representative besides the House speaker to introduce bills solo.
Fontaine called his time in the Legislature "life-fulfilling," adding: "It's been such an honor and pleasure to serve the folks of South Maui, and actually the people of Hawaii. I'm very pleased with what I've been able to accomplish so far, and I hope I have the opportunity to go back and continue to serve and work on the issues that matter most to my constituents."
Ing said he wants to carry out his campaign's theme of being a "fresh vision for Maui's future."
"I want to ensure that my children and grandchildren will be able to experience this island as I have," he said. "And that's with all its natural beauty but also with the opportunity to secure great jobs, own homes and have the option to raise their families where they were brought up. That's a societal expectation that may soon be lost in South Maui."
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.