A newly expanded House District in Windward Oahu, District 48, has drawn the attention of an influential environmental group and two public worker unions as two democrats prepare to square off in the Aug. 11 primary.
The Sierra Club, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the HGEA are targeting House Speaker Pono Chong for alleged distortions of his voting record.
Chong faces fellow democrat Rep. Jessica Wooley in the primary, and since there is no republican challenger, the winner of the primary wins the seat. Wooley's district was folded into District 48 because of reapportionment, and all three groups targeting Chong endorsed her candidacy.
Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter, said Chong has been flooding the district with mailers that contain "misstatements" and "half-truths."
"We're going to be communicating this information out to all of our respective members, and trying to make sure that the voters are able to make an informed decision based on actual facts," Harris said during a press conference at the grounds of 'Iolani Palace.
"We want to make sure voters can make an informed decision," Randy Perreira, the Executive Director of HGEA, added in a written statement.
The new coalition created a website, NotPono.org, which attempts to educate voters about the representative's true voting record.
The website claims Chong, who has served eight years in the House, failed to commit to an effort to end public school furloughs, known as furlough Fridays, before they began in October of 2009.
However, Chong tells KITV4 he resisted the urge to set aside any additional funds to keep the furloughs from happening until he received solid commitments from former Gov. Linda Lingle and the teachers' union to end their stalemate over a contract dispute.
"What people have to understand, it's not just one person. You have to get a majority of your colleagues," said Chong. "Actually, I was one of the people who helped move forward the bill that funded the $60 million to end furlough Fridays."