Don’t get me wrong, Hawaii is beautiful. It was a pleasure visiting the 50th state for the first time ever earlier this month. SMACNA held its annual convention on the Big Island of Hawaii and my boss forced me to attend.

(Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

There is a time it would not be so thrilling being a resident of Hawaii, though. And, that date is right around the corner: Election day.

Imagine waking up Nov. 7, turning on the television set, and hearing Peter Jennings proclaim that Al Gore or George Bush is our next president. A lot can happen on the mainland before the sun rises in Hawaii. That five-hour difference between Hawaii and the Eastern time zone … well, Hawaiians have it worse than those living on the West Coast.

“It’s a waste of time [voting],” confessed James Russell, principal of EMC (Energy Management Consultants) in Kona, HI, “but we still do.”

I’m not so certain that’s the general consensus of native Hawaiians. Russell moved from Santa Fe Springs, CA, to Hawaii 12 years ago. His intentions were to retire and grow strawberries with his wife. However, a funny thing happened after crossing the ocean. When people found out he held various positions in the hvacr industry for most of his life, he was offered one project to do. And then another. And then another.

“People just wanted jobs done right,” explained 67-year-old Russell, who runs his business with Ken Massey, who provides construction, and Ken Haag, who does service work. “There is a great need for knowledge here.”

Yeah, it’s safe to say that Hawaii is known more for its sandy beaches, volcanoes, and hula girls than its hvacr contractors. (That’s not to say a contractor from Hawaii would not have a chance in winning The News’ “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. If you don’t enter, you can’t win, right?)

The secret behind voting in Hawaii, said my cab driver, is turning off the TV and radio for the day. Without the media onslaught, an individual at least believes s/he is making a difference.

“I’ve learned that over the years,” said the cab driver. “I try to think positive.”

DUTY calls; VOTE

In truth, this year’s election may come down to the wire. That, in itself, was encouraging for the Hawaiians I talked to. Many of us recall the 1960 presidential election in which John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by two-tenths of one percent of the vote cast. That narrow difference averages out to less than one vote per precinct nationwide.

Like George Edinger in his October column in SMAC News, I will not presume to tell you what is in your best interest or how to cast your vote Nov. 7. Like Edinger, who just stepped down as president of SMACNA, I do encourage one and all to exercise your right to vote.

“Many voters, including some of our members, complain that elections proceed every two and four years for federal office holders without reflecting the value of one person’s vote,” wrote Edinger, who heads C&R Mechanical Co. in Brighton, MO. “This harmful impression isn’t true and over the years numerous examples exist to refute it. One a few weeks ago in suburban New York City, an incumbent lost his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by less than three dozen votes. In 1996, another congressman lost his seat by less than half as many votes.

“The point I have been trying to make in my few paragraphs on the subject is that voting matters, it makes a difference at every level of government, and the results of your vote determine the quality of the community, state, and nation we all live in.

“The right to vote should be seen as a privilege considering that a majority of the world’s people do not have the option. Most important, voting should be viewed as a duty.”


Everyone has a reason for not voting. After all, a promise is a promise — unless it’s made by a politician. In the last presidential election, only 49% of Americans voted. Worse yet, in the last congressional election, a dismal 36% of voting age Americans cast ballots.

This has to change.

Does it all make a difference? You bet it does.


Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/30/2000