National News

Kim Coco Iwamoto announces bid for Lieutenant Governor

Posted November 6, 2017 4:01 p.m. EST

— Former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto announced on Sunday that she is running for Lieutenant Governor. Iwamoto pledged to fight for causes that impact Hawaii's citizens. She said community members who come forward with solutions to pressing problems are often greeted with an attitude of "no can" from elected leaders.

"We must stop voting for the same no can politicians and vote for the fearless who will fight for what matters to you," Iwamoto says. "This is our chance to turn the Lieutenant Governor's Office into the People's Office and make sure there is always an open door within state government. Together, we can."

Iwamoto says she will focus causes often overshadowed by powerful interest groups: homeless, schools not bigger prisons, and natural resources.

She talks about how her youth shapes her political views. Her father's family emigrated from Japan to Kaua'i and worked in the sugar cane fields. Her mother's family emigrated from Japan to Central California where they grew cantaloupes. After the outbreak of World War II, her mother and her eight siblings were placed in internment camps in Arizona.

"We remember the injustice of racism that allowed Japanese Americans to be rounded up and placed in internment camps. And today we protest in solidarity against the same racist xenophobia directed at our Muslim neighbors," Iwamoto says.

Iwamoto, who was born in Kauai and raised on Oahu, grew up with a strong work ethic instilled early in her life delivering newspapers and helping her family's business by washing cars. After high school, Iwamoto went to New York City with dreams for a career in fashion but says she faced discriminatory practices from an employer. Iwamoto says she decided to pursue a law degree to gain a firmer understanding to change laws to make a more just society.

Iwamoto returned from the mainland U.S. to care for her mother who had a severe stroke. Iwamoto worked at the Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, running legal clinics in homeless shelters and later served as the organization's managing attorney. She also became a foster parent.

In 2006, Iwamoto successfully won a seat on the State of Hawai'i Board of Education and later became a member of the State Civil Rights Commission.