PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's election season, which means campaign signs are springing up everywhere. But one candidate's signs are getting the wrong kind of attention.
Republican Angela Aulani Ka'aihue, who's running for Congress against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, has posted several signs declaring that she's "healthy and cancer free."
She had previously said she was running for the seat occupied by U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, who will not seek re-election because he's battling pancreatic cancer.
The signs are angering Pearl City residents and members of the Hawaii Republican Party. But there's not much they can do.
For her part, Ka'aihue says she's running a serious campaign.
She told Hawaii News Now she posted the slogan as a tribute to her father, who she says is a cancer survivor. Ka'aihue, who does not have cancer, also said that it's important for voters to know a candidate is healthy.
"Would you want to vote for someone who has cancer?" she said in a phone interview.
When asked if there is an assumption that most people walking around don't have cancer, she responded, "No, not necessarily".
Many are taking offense at the signs.
"It's beyond tone deaf," said Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Fritz Rohlfing. "It sounds just downright mean and somewhat foolish. Basic humanity says our heart goes out to somebody who's trying to fight off a very, very, dangerous illness in pancreatic cancer.:
Resident Thomas Rogers said, "I think somebody should get the sign off the fence and rip it to shreds."
Kaaihue acknowledges the controversial nature of the signs, but continues to point to her health as a reason to vote for her.
"If you have cancer, it's almost like having AIDS, you don't want people to know," she said.
She also acknowledges a longstanding grudge against Takai.
Kaaihue says she's pursuing a longstanding lawsuit over land development. The suit involves the Newtown Estates Community Association preventing her from building a home for her family. She says it's been going on for five years at considerable cost.
She characterized the suit as unfinished business, like her campaign.
"It should be a wake-up call to everyone," she said. "This is a democratic state, I think our politics sucks, I think our politicians are not good for Hawaii and we need a change."