Kaka‘ako Development is the Hot-Button Issue for Democrats Brickwood Galuteria and Sharon Moriwaki

Richard Borreca
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Touching old-time McCully and Mö‘ili‘ili, the golden sands of Waikïkï and the tense mix of Honolulu’s housing wealth and poverty — Kaka‘ako, the state Senate’s 12th District is a touchstone of the old Hawai‘i moving into the future.

Voters in the urban Honolulu district will decide one of the state’s most interesting races: the Democratic Primary match-up between incumbent Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, a 10-year veteran, and former state government official and University of Hawai‘i leader Sharon Moriwaki.

Galuteria, a former Hawai‘i Democratic Party chairman (2004 to 2006), was first elected to the state Senate in 2008.

He has been a local radio personality, a spokesman for a bank and a car dealership and a Waikïkï entertainer.

Moriwaki’s career has been a cross between state government and UH. She attended the University of Southern California and earned a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the school of sociology; she also has a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

She is the former associate director of the University of Hawai‘i’s Public Policy Center and was state director of human resources under Gov. John Waihee. Moriwaki also served as administrative director of the Hawai‘i Court System and as a UH assistant vice president. A resident of Kaka‘ako for the past decade, she is the founding president of Kakaako United.

It could be a close race. Galuteria is well known, with strong public recognition, and Moriwaki has become one of the strongest supporters of stopping runaway development of Kaka‘ako.

The district has 28,312 registered voters, but with a primary turnout of only 30 percent, just 8,664 voters will pick the Democratic Senate candidate for the changing area. The winner will face Republican Lynn Barry Mariano in the general election for the four-year term that pays $61,380 a year.

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Richard Borreca is a Honolulu journalist. He has worked for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, KHVH News Radio, KHON-TV, Honolulu Magazine and The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, for whom he now writes a Sunday column.

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