Former Governor Linda Lingle was the only candidate at a U. S. Senate Candidate Talk Story at Kealakehe High Sunday afternoon. Lingle addressed more than 20 questions submitted by people in the audience and in advance to the talk story moderator, Sherry Bracken of LAVA 105.3 fm. Issues ranged from tax reform to plans for keeping in touch to reducing the budget deficit. She also addressed her key priorities if elected to the U. S. Senate.
Lingle would be the first Republican to represent Hawaii in Congress since statehood. She pointed to her experience as a two-term Republican Governor, working in a state with primarily Democratic legislators, as evidence of her ability to represent Hawaii well. She said she is proud to be a Republican, but also said she does not support all aspects of the Republican platform. She is pro-choice, and says the Republican Platform Plank calling for a constitutional amendment banning abortion will not fly.
Lingle focused on bipartisan solutions to health care reform and tax reform. She acknowledged the ineffectiveness of the current Congress with too much focus on party politics and said there are good ideas on both sides of the aisle–and cited several examples that would benefit the citizens.
Lingle said with Washington so far away, keeping in touch with constituents is a challenge she plans to address with technology. She suggested a regular “Skype” video conference, in a central place such as Kealakehe High, to allow her to share with constituents what’s up with Congress and to hear their concerns and issues. She also would have a representative here on Hawaii Island.
Lingle pointed out there is currently no Senate committee dealing with tourism, and she would lobby to start one, with tourism being a major industry for the country and the biggest industry for Hawaii. But she also addressed tax reform, which she says is critical to attract more businesses to the country and the state.
Regarding Social Security, Lingle said in order to keep it solvent, the salary cap under which people pay the Social Security tax should be raised. She also said that over time, it might be appropriate to raise the age at which one can collect Social Security might be raised. Regarding the Affordable Health Care Act, she said there are some good provisions, but some provisions need to be relooked, especially the taxes that are included and the reduction in health care provider reimbursements that will start in January, 2013.
Lingle’s opponent, Mazie Hirono, had also been invited several months ago. Her Campaign Manager, Betsy Lin, sent a letter dated September 20 saying Hirono’s schedule would not permit attendance. The forum’s sponsors felt although the intent was to have both candidates at the forum, it would be unfair to both Governor Lingle and to voters who want to learn about candidates to cancel the event.
The sponsors were not endorsing any candidate. Sponsors include Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Kohala Coast Resort Association, Hawaii Island Board of Realtors, West Hawaii Today, Mahalo Broadcasting/LAVA 105.3 fm, hawaii247.com, Rotary of Kona, and Kealakehe High School. Mr. Alan Vogt at Kealakehe High provided invaluable assistance.