Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Julia Allen, Republican candidate for state House District 21, which includes Wilhelmina Rise, Maunalani Heights, Kaimuki and St. Louis Heights. The other Republican candidate is Joelle Seashell.
Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.
1. What is the biggest issue facing your district, and what would you do about it?
My district is an older community with many retired residents living on a fixed income who are harmed by the steady increase in the cost-of-living and can’t afford increases in utility charges, food and medical care.
I would address this by adjusting income tax brackets and by exempting food and medical expenses from general excise tax.
2. Many people have talked about diversifying the local economy for many years now, and yet Hawaii is still heavily reliant on tourism. What, if anything, should be done differently about tourism and the economy?
We need to make Hawaii business-friendly by reducing taxes and regulations that hamper investment and business development.
Regarding what should be done differently about tourism and the economy, we need to upgrade our infrastructure in Waikiki to be more competitive with other desirable destinations. We need to make the most of a worldwide demand for our value for vacation and business travelers.
3. An estimated 60% of Hawaii residents are struggling to get by, a problem that reaches far beyond low income and into the middle class, which is disappearing. What ideas do you have to help the middle class and working families who are finding it hard to continue to live here?
We have a high cost of living in large part because of the cost of housing, taxation, government spending and overbearing regulations.
I support reforming the Land Use Commission to reduce regulations so that building new homes can be affordable. I would drop the general excise tax from food, medicine and medical supplies.
4. Hawaii has the most lopsided Legislature in the country, with only one Republican in the Senate and only four in the House. How would you ensure there is an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability for decisions? What do you see as the consequences of one-party control, and how would you address that?
It only takes one person to stand up and speak the truth and the truth is always compelling. When decisions are made behind closed doors, there can be no transparency.
I believe we, as a society, need to refocus on moral character and vote for people we know to be trustworthy. The result of having an overwhelming majority party is that we lack transparency and competition as a check on its power.
5. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
Yes, I support citizens initiative. We are the only state in the nation that does not have at least one of the following, and I would support all of them:
— Recall (enables citizens to remove public officials from office).
— Referendum (enables voters to repeal an act of the legislature).
— Initiative (enables citizens to place issues on the ballot).
— Term limits (limits the number of terms for elected officials).
6. Thanks to their campaign war chests and name familiarity, incumbents are almost always re-elected in Hawaii legislative races. Should there be term limits for state legislators, as there are for the governor’s office and county councils? Why or why not?
Yes, I would support term limits for state legislators.
7. Hawaii has recently experienced a number of prominent corruption scandals, prompting the state House of Representatives to appoint a commission tasked with improving government transparency through ethics and lobbying reforms. What will you do to ensure accountability at the Legislature? Are you open to ideas such as requiring the Sunshine Law and open records laws to apply to the Legislature or banning campaign contributions during session?
I support requiring the Sunshine Law and open records laws to apply to the Legislature. I believe it is unethical to have campaign fundraisers during a legislative session.
8. How would you make the Legislature more transparent and accessible to the public? Opening conference committees to the public? Stricter disclosure requirements on lobbying and lobbyists? How could the Legislature change its own internal rules to be more open?
The problem is that our legislative committee chairmen wield tremendous power, such that decisions can be made behind closed doors. In order to have transparency, we need a balance of power which allows competition to bring issues to the public.
9. Hawaii has seen a growing division when it comes to politics, development, health mandates and other issues. What would you do to bridge those gaps and bring people together in-spite of their differences?
We need to focus on what we all have in common, which is the health and welfare of our state.
10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative but be specific.
I would not reinvent Hawaii because I love Hawaii as it is.
The mandates and school shutdowns were harmful. Businesses closed with jobs and benefits lost, not to come back again. The loss of social interactions was detrimental because people are meant to be in the community, engaged with each other.
People need current information available to best protect themselves and their families, based on their own risk evaluation, not heavy-handed government policies.
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