BY RICK HAMADA – In the 1992 movie, ‘The Distinguished Gentleman”, Eddie Murphy’s character capitalizes on the similarity of his name and the recently departed incumbent’s name to win a seat in Congress.
A similar plotline is playing out in Hawaii politics. Two candidates are in the spotlight, primarily because they share a name with two popular and respected members of the community. Regardless of the intent, there is no doubt that confusion and mistaken identity are playing a role in two meaningful elections.
Pamela Young, a candidate for an open seat on the Board of Education and a lead accountant for the City and County of Honolulu, was the top vote-getter in the recent primary election and qualifies for the general election. She easily outdistanced her nearest competitors including a former state lawmaker and a BOE incumbent.
She shares a name with Pamela Young, KITV anchor, reporter and host of the popular TV program, “Mixed Plate.”
“Not a day passed when I didn’t get an email or call from someone asking me about the election, my issues, my platform, etc… To this day, I am receiving congratulations on my landslide win!” according to KITV Pamela Young.
Unlike the Eddie Murphy’s character in “The Distinguished Gentleman,” BOE candidate Pamela Young didn’t factor her name into the campaign. When asked if sharing her name with a recognizable personality was a factor in her candidacy, she simply replied, “No.”
Young said she ran for the BOE seat because of her concern for Hawaii students and the need to tackle the budget crisis in state education. “Children are our most precious resource and their need for a quality education should be a top priority for our elected officials.”
BOE candidate Young is hopeful that voters will support her for her talent and not just name recognition. “I believe I am qualified to assist the BOE in managing the largest portion of the state’s budget and to deal with the severe budget crisis which led to the furloughs.”
Although impressed with the dedication and passion of Department of Education personnel, she believes improvements can be made. “It appears that the resources could be better managed including cutting waste and having better oversight on purchases and contracts. Like the city, the DOE has a multi-billion dollar budget and thousands of employees,” says Young.
Both women are taking the case of mistaken identity in stride.
BOE candidate Pamela Young laughs when people confuse her with the other Pamela. “KITV Pamela Young has a glamorous and exciting job, and I have a boring accounting job looking at reports all day long.”
Asked if there were lessons learned during this process, KITV Pamela Young says, “Now I know what it’s like to win an election without spending a dime.”
Perry on the left and Price on the right. This timeless phrase is as legendary as the two men it describes.
Michael W. Perry and Larry Price have dominated the Hawaii radio airwaves for more than 27 years as the state’s number-one rated radio program on KSSK 92.3 FM.
Now there is a race for Senate District 8 that’s drawing a great deal of attention and a tinge of controversy related to a Democrat candidate, Larry Price.
Price, 51, who lives with his parents in Hawaii Kai, is running against incumbent Republican Senator Sam Slom, who has served his constituency since 1996.
The rub is that candidate Larry Price is not the former UH Coach Larry Price Hawaii listeners know from the radio or the jock’s popular-coined word, “Katoosh!”
No, this is a completely different Larry Price.
According to his website, Candidate Larry Price was born in Washington, DC and was raised in Northern Virginia. He has been a resident of Hawaii for 12 years and has lived in Hawaii Kai for more than 5 years.
He says his background includes experience as a computer technician, a REALTOR, a brief stint in law enforcement, retail management and as a flight instructor.
Candidate Price did not provide Hawaii Reporter details as to where he was licensed as a pilot and a real estate agent, and no records in a national data search by Hawaii Reporter researchers turned up such licenses. He also did not relay specifically where he worked for the police department.
This is his first foray into the pursuit of elected office, but Candidate Price list of supporters include The United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646 and the AFL-CIO.
Although he is receiving the thumbs up from some area Democrats, Coach Larry Price’s radio partner Michael W. Perry does not agree with candidate Price’s campaign tactics.
On a recent broadcast, Perry said, “I keep getting asked all the time…Larry is NOT running for public office. He’s NOT. It’s another Larry Price. He’s done what he’s set out to do and that’s to confuse the issue.”
But Candidate Larry Price tells Hawaii Reporter, “Although the fact I share the same name with a local “celebrity” may be considered to be ironic or comical at times, I can assure you it is nothing more than coincidence, and it had no more of an impact on my decision to run or on the strategy of my campaign than it did on my mother’s choice to give this name to me over 51 years ago.”
Yet, Perry continued to comment on KSSK during the same broadcast, “He’s calling himself, are you ready for this, his slogan … this other Larry Price no one’s every heard of…no one has seen him…no one knows who he is…he’s calling himself, “The Voice of Hawaii”. Could that be just a bit devious?”
Candidate Larry Price’s website indeed features the slogan, “A Voice We Can Trust.” However, in a statement to Hawaii Reporter, Candidate Larry Price said, “I have never acted to intentionally associate myself with him to the public.”
Hawaii Reporter asked KITV Pamela Young on whether a disclaimer on the identity of a candidate should be made. “I don’t know if there’s a way to regulate something like that. She’s been active in the community for so many years, maybe she feels I’m the one who should have the disclaimer before every newscast.”
The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 2nd.
Rick Hamada is a journalist and radio talk show host for KHVH News Radio 830 AM. He authored this story for Hawaii Reporter.