Hitting the Ground Running; Key Staff; Invite to DC Office Opening January 3rd; Leadership Decision
Flashback 2012: Record Ethics Fine: Nestor Garcia Conflict of Interest on Rail Votes
Aloha, Friend! December 23, 2018
There could be no more graphic representation of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. today than a partial shutdown of our federal government just days before Christmas.
The blame game is in full swing and there is plenty of blame to go around. But the fact is that it is inexcusable all around to play brinksmanship with real services to real people in need and real salaries to hardworking federal employees. The just-passed bipartisan criminal justice reform bill proves that it is still possible to find a better way forward through deep division, but unfortunately it looks like the current impasse may well be drawn out and kicked forward into the 116th Congress, which convenes next January 3rd.
For my part, I've devoted the weeks since my election to the 116th Congress to hitting the ground running across the board from the moment I'm sworn into office on January 3rd. Here is a quick update of some of my activities:
Orientation. I've spent three of the last six weeks back East getting reacquainted with former colleagues and especially getting to know my fellow new Members of the Class of 2018. Aside from being one of the largest classes in history (almost one-quarter of the full House), it is clearly the most diverse ever. But a common mission throughout our class is change in Washington, and if we can hang together even given our differences on specific issues we can clearly steer that better way.
I also spent time with Senators Schatz and Hirono and Representatives Gabbard and Hanabusa to compare notes on various issues, especially those specific to Hawai'i, and to coordinate how I can best contribute to our delegation from the get-go. I want to especially recognize Congresswoman Hanabusa and her staff for all of their time and effort in assuring a smooth transition in representation of Hawaii's First Congressional District.
Staff. I've pulled together a great staff to assist me and those we serve in tackling the challenges facing our district, state and country while providing the highest level of constituent services. Many are Hill veterans, including some from Congresswoman Hanabusa's office, while some are promising newcomers. While I'll round out my staff early next year once committee assignments are made and other specific responsibilities are set, here are my key staff:
-Chief of Staff. Tim Nelson will oversee all of my operations in D.C. and Hawai’i from my Capitol Hill office and will also double as my Legislative Director. Tim, who is originally from Michigan and knows and loves Hawai'i, served as my Legislative Assistant (LA) during my prior service in the U.S. House from 2002 to 2007. He was previously an LA to Congresswoman Patsy Mink and subsequently Legislative Director to former Congressman Jim Marshall (D-Georgia). Tim also served as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with in-country experience in Iraq and Afghanistan auditing both the U.S. Defense and U.S. State departments, as well as USAID. He is currently the Audit Manager for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. Tim is a Certified Public Accountant and lives in Maryland.
-District Director. Jacqueline (Jackie) Conant will oversee all of my activities in Hawai'i and will coordinate them with DC from my Honolulu office. Jackie also worked with me in my Honolulu office during my prior service in Congress, along with Congresswoman Mink before me and then-Congresswoman Hirono after. She is currently Congressional Liaison for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Hawai'i and a Project Manager for the Corps. Jackie grew up in Kalihi, attended Star of the Sea and the University of Hawai'i/Kapiolani Community College, and currently lives in Hawai'i Kai.
-Communications Director. Nestor Garcia will be responsible for all of my media and public communications in both D.C. and Hawai'i from my Honolulu office. Nestor was an on-camera reporter with KHON2 News in Honolulu for a total of twelve years earlier and midway through his career and just completed employment as Assignments Desk Manager. He worked for more than two years in D.C. as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. Nestor went on to serve eight years as a Democratic member of the Hawai'i State House, elected in the same class as me, where he was appointed Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs as well as Majority Whip. He later served ten years on the non-partisan Honolulu City Council, where he served on various committees as well as Chair. Nestor was also a Vice President for Communications with City Bank. He grew up in Waipahu, attended Waipahu High School and Leeward Community College before graduating from UH-Manoa, and lives in Waipahu.
Offices. Here are my Congressional offices:
D.C. On Capitol Hill at 2443 Rayburn House Office Building. If you are in D.C. on January 3rd, please join us at 10AM when we will officially open our office, or just drop by throughout the day up to about 6PM for our open house.
Honolulu. Downtown at Bishop Place, 1132 Bishop Street, Suite 1910 (Congresswoman Hanabusa's current office). We will be fully open for business on January 3rd, though we will have an official opening and open house during my first trip home the week of January 21st.
We will provide more contact information and details when available.
Speaker. In my last e-newsletter, Survey: Nancy Pelosi for Speaker?, I asked for your guidance on my most important initial decision. I'm grateful for the close to 1,500 survey responses, of which 60% favored Leader Pelosi, 37% opposed her, and 3% were undecided, and especially appreciate the great additional comments on this and many other issues. It was clear that, though most supported her service as the next Speaker for various reasons, there were also concerns across the board with leadership succession and over-polarization. In two one-on-one conversations with Leader Pelosi (along with discussions between my new member class and leadership candidates), I expressed those concerns and related needs for inclusive and solution-oriented leadership. I believe they (and similar concerns from many other colleagues) were heard, as evidenced by her commitment to a limited term, to House rules changes to open up the legislative process, and to other change-oriented conditions, and decided to support her candidacy for Speaker while fully retaining my right and obligation to exercise my own independent judgment, voice and vote.
Despite the challenges ahead, my staff and I are fully ready and eager to assume the great responsibilities you have given us and truly look forward to assisting and working with you. We extend to you and yours the very best of the Holiday Season as we look to the hope and promise of the New Year together.
2012: Record Ethics Fine: Nestor Garcia Conflict of Interest on Rail Votes