***Commentary*** Editor’s Note On Big Island Chronicle’s 2014 Campaign Coverage

By Alan McNarie  

Following is the editor’s note that is featured in the print edition of Big Island Chronicle due out on newsstands next week.

Okay. I have to admit it. In some ways, a Web site is superior to a hardcopy paper.

This special edition of the Chronicle, and this election, are a lesson in that. We spent some time putting together two good, thoughtful candidate surveys—one for county council candidates, one for state legislature hopefuls. We wanted to avoid the “check box”; we wanted candidates to give some insight into not just how they would vote on some issues, but on how they reached their opinions. We asked about some tough issues—particularly those two elephants in the closet of Hawaiian life, our dependence on imported energy and food. We asked about other issues that we knew were of concern to voters: affordable housing, homelessness, family violence, genetically modified crops, marijuana, publicly funded elections, Hilo’s overstuffed landfill, Billy Kenoi’s garbage-to-energy plans. We even threw in a few issues that voters weren’t really aware of yet, but should be, such as the fact that the legislature was considering another “public-private partnership” with a prison-building company. One question that we were particularly proud of, that we were especially hoping would get candidates to show themselves thinking out of the box, dealt with “jobs” vs. “livings.” Politicians often used “jobs” to justify projects, but that “jobs” often seemed to mean working for a corporation. But Big Island residents have often exploded into grassroots rebellions over large-scale corporate developments thrust upon them-think Oji Paper, Hokulia, the proposed Ka`u prison and spaceport—and the Big Island economy has always incorporated other ways to make a living, from self-employment to subsistence farming and fishing. So we asked candidates to think of ways to create not just more jobs, but more livings.

It didn’t work. One candidate objected that we were “talking down” to him. Others just didn’t answer the question. So we rephrased it and gave them a chance to answer the revised question. A few gave thoughtful answers. Most didn’t.

But we did get some good, thoughtful responses from some candidates on many issues. We got some that were good, thoughtful and very lengthy. We got some that were careless, and some that were downright illiterate.

What we didn’t consider adequately was just how active the political field was going to be. So many candidates have filed this year that there was no hope whatsoever of cramming more than just the highlights of the candidates’ responses into our little paper. Even so, our summaries crammed this little paper to the gills.

But the Internet is virtually limitless. So get a taste of your candidates here. Then go to www.bigislandchronicle.com, and experience the full questionnaire responses in all their glory and all their horror.

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