Turning Stew And Rice Into Votes
Gary Moniz comes to my house in years ending in a 2 or a 7. Around the Boylans’ dining room table, he joins fellow members of Waipahu High School Class of 1962 (including the former Gloria Constantino, aka the high-strung Filipina) to plan reunions.
Over pupu and desserts, they talk story about high school hijinks. They plan a little too, I guess.
Otherwise, I don’t see Gary often. But I recently saw him at an Aiea High School stew-and-rice for David Ige.
Gary, along with the stew-and rice-servers and at least a third of the crowd, was bedecked in a deep-blue “Ige for Governor” T-shirt.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Eh, you know, helping a friend,” he replied. “This politics is a whole new world for me. I’m part of the Mililani blue-sign-waving team. There’s 25 of us. We wave three or four times a week. Now at football games, too. We’ll go other places if they need help. In this hot weather, it’s hard, but it’s a lot of fun, too.”
Candidate Ige and wife Dawn arrived late from a coffee hour.
Dawn is a Department of Education vice principal, and educators, active and retired, made up much of the crowd.
Edith Laeha didn’t serve stew, nor did she wear a T-shirt, but she’s a retired teacher and she’d come to the stew and rice with daughter Lisa to hear what the candidate had to say. Would she attend a similar event to check out Duke Aiona?
“No,” she replied emphatically. For Mufi Hannemann?
“No,” she replied, just as emphatically. “Then you’re an Ige supporter,” said I.
“Let’s say I’m curious,” said Laeha. “I hope when I hear him tonight he’ll justify my choice.
In the primary campaign, I don’t think he defined himself.”
Laeha had to listen to a handful of other candidates laud Ige and stress the importance of voting for Democrats. City Council candidate Carol Fukunaga, Congressional hopeful Mark Takai, and state Rep. Gregg Takeyama did the duty.
Dawn Ige introduced her husband, noting that both were public high school graduates, he from Pearl City High, she from Campbell; that as students they’d both worked at Del Monte pineapple cannery, he as a trimmer, she as a packer; and that they’d met at University of Hawaii, when both ran for student government offices.
Ige rose to express gratitude for the help many in the crowd had given during the 14-month campaign that upset an incumbent governor. “Primary election night was something else,” said Ige. “But it means nothing if we don’t win.
“We have tough decisions to make. We have to re-engage people in a discussion of what, as taxpayers, they want to spend money on, and what they don’t.”
Ige proceeded to make clear his support for public education. “I’m committed to our public schools,” said Ige, “and to the University of Hawaii.”
Ige finished, once again, urging his audience to “get engaged in this election.
“My opponents will spend millions of dollars on TV. They’ve already started.”
As the crowd left the building, Ige talked about his impatience with talk.
“For example, we’ve talked about sustainability forever,” he said. “But Lingle did nothing about it. Neither did Abercrombie. If we’re serious, we need a plan.
“And then do it. Let’s designate 200,000 acres for sustainable agriculture, and let’s reorganize the Department of Agriculture to serve small farmers rather than big agriculture.
“Not just talk about it. Do it.”