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UHPA Helps Members Make Informed Mayoral Race Decisions

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A recent survey of UHPA members showed there is an even split on the issue of whether UHPA should endorse county mayoral candidates. In addition, nearly a quarter of the faculty who responded to the survey are undecided about whom they will elect as mayor.

Typically, UHPA does not endorse candidates in mayoral races and has limited its endorsements to federal or state races because of the impact these other candidates can have on the UH and public higher education.  Rather than an outright endorsement, faculty responding to the survey were open to receiving information about the candidates, so they could make a decision for themselves.

Since mayors do not have direct involvement in statewide issues or educational issues, faculty responding in the survey indicated that UHPA should not make mayoral endorsements.  However, others pointed out that the University of Hawaii system is a statewide organization that operates in many counties and that there are other issues outside of education within the county’s jurisdiction that can impact the quality of life for faculty and students.  This is particularly true for the Honolulu mayoral race, as underscored by the following comments from faculty responding in the survey:

    -     “UH issues concerning UHPA members affect and are affected by  
          county leadership.”

    -     “...City services and politics do impact UH-Manoa, West Oahu and
          the four community colleges...”

    -     “County mayors are responsible for many decisions that affect our
          campuses. Among other areas, these include: mass
          transportation, sewer lines, waste water treatment, trash pick up
          and recycling.”

    -     “There are issues that are tied to Honolulu mayoral races affect
          our well-being and lifestyle that, in turn, influence our
          performance as faculty.”

As these faculty noted, there are broader issues that can affect UH faculty and students outside the scope of education.  It is important to note that while serving in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 2002 to 2008, Kirk Caldwell advocated for a number of issues  designed to improve the quality of life of those who live and work in Manoa Valley, which included the University of Hawaii.  He also served as chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment from 2004 to 2006.

Rail transit has been a dominant part of the mayoral race. While Ben Cayetano is opposed to rail, Kirk Caldwell would like to see rail continue to proceed.  Based on the survey, there are some faculty who also see the value of rail:

    -    “Rail is a major issue that affects UH.  It needs to be implemented
         and it needs to be extended to Manoa.  Cayetano would eliminate
         this entirely, while Caldwell has expressed support for such an

    -    "Rail is a critical issue for UH growth and development.  We should
         support the candidate who supports rail.”

Finally, preserving the right to collective bargaining is important to all faculty and the mayors of all counties vote on contracts involving HGEA, UPW and Fire Fighters. Although these union members are county employees, they can affect the contract negotiations with other public-sector unions such as UHPA.  Many faculty who have been with the UH system for more than 10 years may recall the 2001 faculty strike under then Governor Ben Cayetano.  For more details, visit the UHPA website, click on Faculty Contract in the menu on the left-hand column, then click on Archives (1999-2001 Faculty without Contract).

As you make your voting decisions for the general election, please keep in mind that county mayors do in fact influence the overall quality of life for you, our students, and our campuses.


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