Voting Local: One Battleground for the Future of Food

By Ashley Lukens, Chair of Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety Action Fund

On Primary Election Day in Hawai‘i, we won, we lost, and huge opportunities emerged.

16 candidates endorsed by our political action committee made it through to the General Election. All of the candidates we endorsed are committed to advocating for a True Food agenda, and I want to thank each of them for their hard work this primary cycle.

We know that for our policy priorities to pass, we need leaders and allies in office. Our elections work ensures that these candidates are protected and that they can continue to fight our food system. To that end, we want to offer a special shout out to Senator Russell Ruderman and Representative Kaniela Ing, who were able to overcome serious primary challenges.

We also want to recognize the hard work of the Kuleana Academy candidates, whose willingness to stand up and run for office created a more contested elections process. These fearless candidates changed the landscape and conversation around elections this year. Participation is the lifeblood of democracy, and we can’t just vote. Sometimes we need to stand up and run.

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All of the starred candidates will continue on to the General Election and candidates with badges are either uncontested or have won their seat outright.

The real loss this Primary Election wasn’t the defeat of a specific candidate; it was the glaring lack of participation. When only 30% of voters show up, it is only a few who make a profound impact on the composition of our state and county government.

Having seen the massive turnout at the presidential caucuses last spring, we know that people can and want to participate in meaningful ways; but, it is critical that as a movement we move beyond the top of the ticket. If we participate and if we care – and we know we have a culture that values these qualities – then we need to go local with voting. We need to participate.

The fight is not over and we need to keep supporting candidates that we care about. To that end, we are taking our True Food agenda on the road. Imagine if the state protected our keiki by mandating buffer zones for pesticide use around schools. Imagine if the Department of Agriculture provided more on-farm training for young and veteran farmers. Imagine if our all our schools served local and organic produce.

We want to know what issues you think these these warriors should work on when they are elected and we promise that we’ll be there, pounding the halls at the legislature, to make sure our movement moves forward. Take 2 minutes to share your ideas with us >>