Candidate profile: Neil Abercrombie

Neil Abercrombie
Neil Abercrombie
Walter Yoshimitsu
Walter Yoshimitsu

By Steve Uyehara – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You thought campaigning was intense! For 50 years Neil Abercrombie has been hitting the gym and lifting weights. Something he says is good for body and mind.

"It's counter-intuitive really. The more you work with the weights, the less stress you have" said Abercrombie.

The former congressman's main focus outside the gym is education.

Abercrombie picked up endorsements from the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the Hawaii State Teachers Association. The former elementary school teacher and college lecturer wants to make the Superintendent of Hawaii schools a cabinet position. He also feels principals should be given the power and autonomy to manage their staff and schools.

"I think it's going to take someone who not only has the familiarity, but who has the credibility and the confidence of the public, someone who knows about education, been involved in it, understands it, and who has no other agenda."

Abercrombie feels he can flex some political muscle with his former peers on Capitol Hill. He says he can bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the islands to build a more modern infrastructure. He'd focus on energy, irrigation and transportation. Yes, that means rail.

"I can reach out to the Congress where I have these friendships of 20 years standing in the House and in the Senate. I can take advantage of those federal dollars that are there that are sitting on the table right now. Take them off the table to both create and preserve jobs."

But the most divisive issue he's tackled is that of civil unions. Abercrombie is the only major candidate that says he would sign such a bill into law giving spousal rights to same-sex couples. Many say it will weigh heavily on how they vote.

"We had about 15,000 people gathered at the state capitol all opposing civil unions so I think the sentiment is going to be for those opposed to civil unions" said Walter Yoshimitsu of the Hawaii Catholic Conference.

"I've never put my finger in the wind to see what the popular view was. I've always understood that everybody's civil rights have to be protected" said Abercrombie.

So as the showdown at the polls quickly approaches, Abercrombie is ready for a fight. After all, this is what he's been training for.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.