Posted tagged ‘lieutenant governor’

A welcome youth movement for LG

October 6, 2010

I think lieutenant governor is a do-nothing job that should either be given some real responsibilities or abolished.

But as long as we have to fill the position, I like that both parties are putting up some of their best young talent in the general election — Brian Schatz, 37, for the Democrats and Lynn Finnegan, 39, for the Republicans.

I suggested only half-facetiously in a recent column that if we’re going to leave an LG sitting around for eight years waiting for a promotion, we may as well go with someone young enough to have some prime years left when the time comes.

Schatz and Finnegan are unquestionably among the best and brightest of their political generation.

Schatz proved an akamai legislator after being elected at a young age and went on to run a nonprofit, organize the early Barack Obama campaign in Hawai‘i and serve a term as Democratic Party chairman. He ran a masterful campaign to soundly defeat five veteran lawmakers in the primary election.

Finnegan, as leader of the Republican minority in the House, ably provided an articulate voice for the shrinking opposition party and managed to make herself a player on issues such as charter schools.

Both have enough quality experience to make a contribution now if Neil Abercrombie or James “Duke” Aiona has the good sense to use their No. 2, and they’re quite capable of growing into contenders for the top job down the road.


The LG candidates: From bright beacons to space cadets

August 23, 2010

The latest fundraising letter for Norman Sakamoto declares that he’s not running for lieutenant governor to get in line to become governor, but to be “focused on the job he’s running for — lieutenant governor.”

It raises the question of what the heck the LG’s job is, with few real responsibilities other than to be ready to stand in if the governor decides to summer in China or spend the fall on the presidential campaign trail.

Sakamoto’s letter says the job “can be as important as (the occupant) makes it,” but the fact is that few Hawai’i LGs have managed to make it important because few governors have been willing to share power in any meaningful way.

I thought it would be interesting to see how the six major Democratic candidates describe the job, and here’s what I gleaned in order of how they finished in the latest Hawaii Poll by the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now:

  • Brian Schatz (27 percent) is offering “a bright beacon of hope for Hawaii’s future” and promising “to work with the governor, the Legislature and the public to implement common sense approaches to the challenges ahead.” No real specifics on how the office would make him a player.
  • Sakamoto (21 percent) focuses on his experience as Senate education chairman and   “would like to take on education as his prime responsibility, if the next governor sees fit to use him that way.” No clear hint of what he’ll do if the governor doesn’t see fit.
  • Robert Bunda (11 percent) presents himself as an experienced hand as former Senate president who can act as a “working link between the governor, the state Legislature and the public.” Again, only if the governor sees fit.
  • Gary Hooser (10 percent) wants to use the office for “the power of the soapbox, the power to convene and the power to shine a light,” but if we’re being honest, he could have done all of those things with more real authority by staying on as Senate majority leader. Hooser talks the most openly about using the office as a steppingstone to governor or Congress.
  • Lyla Berg (7 percent) pushes her experience in education, but she’s also the only candidate to prominently cite an actual duty of the LG, saying she’d use her oversight of the Office of Information Practices to open up state government.
  • Jon Riki Karamatsu (2 percent) says his short-term goals are to make Hawaii a top 100 economic power, grow 40 percent of our food, produce 10 percent of our energy and reduce violent crimes by 40 percent. He also lists “long-term and far-fetched goals for the world” that include reducing the violence in the world by 75 percent, uniting 90 percent  of the world’s countries and expanding space exploration beyond our galaxy.

I guess if there’s any elected official who could spend a few years on a space mission without being missed, it’s the lieutenant governor.

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