Up until now, there have been just four Congressional candidates vying to fill the vacancy that will be left by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa when she runs for U.S. Senate in 2014.
They include Sen. Will Espero, Rep. Mark Takai, Honolulu Council Member Ikaika Anderson, and Honolulu Council member Stanley Chang, all men, all elected officials and all Democrats.
Now Kathryn Xian has entered the race. Xian, who has never been elected to office, is nevertheless well known at the state capitol for her advocacy for human trafficking victims and her work to stop violence against women and children.
She has helped lead the effort to help child trafficking victims and labor trafficking victims here in the islands through her group, the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.
Xian also heads Girl Fest Hawaii, an annual festival devoted to preventing gender-based violence and advancing women’s empowerment through the arts and education.
Here is more on her background from her campaign:
Nonprofit Leader and Human Trafficking Advocate Kathryn Xian Running for Congress
At 12 p.m. on Monday, September 30, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS) Executive Director Kathryn Xian will formally announce her candidacy for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District at the Hawaii State Capitol. Seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination in this critical race, Xian will run on a platform that speaks to Hawaii’s diverse interests, including economic innovation, educational achievement, energy independence, social equity, and civil rights.
As a legislative advocate, Xian spearheaded efforts to reform Hawaii’s longstanding neglect of human trafficking. She led efforts to establish Hawaii’s first labor trafficking law, helped pass the nation’s first state-level anti sex-tourism law, advocated for increased penalties for pimps and solicitors of prostitution (especially those who exploit minors), and increased legal protection for survivors.
“I have dedicated my life to serving the most vulnerable in Hawaii and the time has come to broaden that reach. Protecting our most vulnerable people testifies to my unwavering commitment to public service,” said Xian. “I will help government create policies that uphold the priorities of the people to ensure their physical protection, financial health, and social wellness,” said Xian.
Xian has received numerous awards for her dedication to stopping violence against woman and children and helping victims of human trafficking, including the National Education Association’s 2005 Ellison S. Onizuka Human and Civil Rights Award and 2012 Josephine Butler Award for Policy Change. Winner of Pacific Edge Magazine’s 2013 Nonprofit Impact Award, PASS, founded by Xian in 2009, has assisted over 100 human trafficking survivors in obtaining justice and sustainable futures.
“In 2010, Hawaii was ranked one of the twelve worst states in addressing human trafficking. By 2012, we helped increase our national standing to a Tier One state, the highest ranking Tier afforded under national rankings,” said Xian.
Xian is also the founder of Girl Fest Hawaii, an annual festival devoted to preventing gender-based violence and advancing women’s empowerment through the arts and education.
“Girl Fest was created to help our community tackle serious problems with violence against women and girls. The program has helped thousands of people in only ten years of existence, creating solidarity among attendees in believing that a more just world is possible,” said Xian.
In addition to her concern for women’s rights, Xian is eager to strengthen congressional efforts to boost energy efficiency and improve economic conditions.
“Hawaii imports over 90 percent of its energy and has one of the highest electricity costs in the nation. We must make the inevitable transition to energy sustainability sooner rather than later. I will ensure that Hawaii becomes a leader in renewable and clean energy. Given my record with respect to policy change, voters can rest assured that I’m driven to accomplish the impossible,” said Xian.
She is also excited to bring Hawaii’s fight for marriage equality to the national stage, where she promises to push for federal marriage rights for same-sex couples and champion employment nondiscrimination laws for GLBT citizens.
“As a Christian who believes firmly in the separation of church and state, I also believe that marriage equality is an issue of justice and civil rights. We cannot allow homophobia to either be socially or legally sanctioned. Homophobia neither upholds democracy nor the spirit of aloha,” said Xian.