WASHINGTON, April 28, 2013 ― Many people believe that a career in Congress is the pathway to political reform, but Hawaii resident Danny de Gracia believes that the future of America rests with local offices and grassroot voices.
Recently elected by Honolulu County voters to serve on a small community municipal board, de Gracia may be one of the lesser elected officials in the Hawaiian Islands, but his opinions have reached international readers and global attention.
Danny has been a writer at Communities Digital News since January of 2012. A political scientist by training, de Gracia also has a diverse background as an ordained minister, an economic adviser, a former senior legislative staffer, and the youngest person to serve on a Hawaii think tank’s panel of scholars.
Now up for his first re-election to his municipal board seat, de Gracia hopes to continue to be a global voice for his local community. Endorsed by a broad list of supporters that includes former governors, retired military officers, academics and more, de Gracia is not without his share of allies.
“Danny de Gracia bridges the gap between national and local spheres of influence and is truly a game changer for community representation,” said Colette Devou, a spokesperson for de Gracia. “What Danny has proved at the grassroots level is that anyone with a persistent and passionate voice can influence our world in dynamic ways.”
de Gracia shared with us an exclusive interview on his thoughts about politics, local service and making a difference.
As Editor of Communities Digital News, I have been proud to have Danny as one of our outstanding independent contributors. I am now proud to introduce you to Danny and his political thoughts and aspirations:
Jacquie Kubin: Danny, what led you to get involved in politics and elections in Hawaii? How did it all start for you? Was it a particular issue that made you run for office or do you just have a passion for politics?
Danny de Gracia: I first got involved in Hawaii politics at the age of 25 (2005). I served on the state House Standing Committee on Human Services as the chairman’s senior staffer. But before that, from a very young age I’ve always had a heart for service and I see myself as being very empathetic to other people’s needs.
I naturally gravitate to situations and people who are looking for breakthroughs, and I like to be a lead agent for relief to people who feel oppressed by circumstances. I enjoy political service because it’s a chance to stand up for people and to live by a code of honor, and that really means a lot to me.
I think right now we are at a critical turning point, where everyone at all levels of government ― not just Congress, but everyone who serves the taxpayers ― needs to be sensitive to the needs of the people and discerning about the problems that confront us. John F. Kennedy said that destiny chose our generation to be the watchmen on the walls of freedom. I wholeheartedly believe that and that’s why I’m active in politics.
Kubin: What would you say are some of the major issues you’re concerned about right now?
de Gracia: First and foremost we have to address the fact that America is in a currency crisis and that there are serious structural problems which are going to get worse as time passes if we don’t have policymakers committed to fiscal reform and sound monetary policy. Inflation is distorting markets and making life very hard on everyone. It’s no accident that energy, education and healthcare are becoming so expensive.
There’s also the issue of the erosion of our individual rights and personal privacies. The last twelve years of policymaking in D.C. have really stripped down the constitutional protections of the Bill of Rights, and that’s not something we should sit easily with. Just look at the drone privacy debates as an example.
I think that city councils and state legislatures need to look at the Tenth Amendment in particular and start standing up for their people’s rights through a healthy exercise of home rule and state’s rights.
In Hawaii, I’m also very concerned about environmental and agricultural issues. We are in many ways a microcosm of what the world might look like in the future on a global scale as scarcity of arable land, fresh water and limited resources begin to set in. This is another key area that needs our full, undivided attention.
To me, most politicians come across as preachy, yet are substanceless and spineless on issues like these that really matter. We have to tackle these issues now before it’s too late.
Kubin: You won your first public office in 2011 when you were elected by Honolulu voters to the Waipahu Neighborhood Board with some 728 votes. What was that like?
de Gracia: Oh, it was great. I really enjoyed it. I think a lot of people these days fixate on what politicos term “top of the ticket races” like who is running for Congress or the governor and assume all change begins at the top and ignore boards, commissions and other elected or appointed political positions. My attitude is the reverse: I think that all change begins from the bottom up and that the most important representation is always local.
There’s an ancient saying that “he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.” The idea here is that service doesn’t begin with big things, it starts with dedication and attention to detail in very small areas of authority and building upon that foundation through excellence.
At the municipal and state level we get to deal with the issues in a powerful way and I love that. In political science we talk about “intermestic policy” ― that is, the intersection of national and international issues that affect local concerns. Serving at this level we get to operate in the intermestic policy layer and it’s truly an overlooked office that has a lot of potential for making a difference.
When you think about America’s founders, they were men who had very small scopes of government authority but had very large spheres of influence as a result of their expertise and devotion to the community. I like to think of myself as following in their footsteps.
Kubin: Is there anything you’d like readers around the nation to know?
de Gracia: Right now the most important thing for everyone is to know that our problems are man-made therefore they can be solved by man. We have an opportunity to fix America starting in our local communities and neighborhoods, but it takes faith and courage to do that.
My prayer is that everyone reading this will be quickened in their spirit to take action and to stand firm for the future of our children and our nation. God bless all of you and God bless the United States of America!
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