Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Arnold Wong, one of three Democratic candidates for state representative for District 33. The others are Tracy Arakaki and Samuel Kong. Republican Robert Helsham is also running.

District 33 includes parts of Ewa (Halawa, Aiea, Royal Summit, Newtown, portion of Waimalu and Pearl City).

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Name: Arnold Wong

Office: State House of Representatives, District 33

Party: Democrat

Profession: Lobbyist

Education: Bachelor and master’s degree

Age: 49


Arnold Wong

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature? 

I believe that with my experiences and knowledge I can assist in giving a moderate voice in the state Legislature. I have the work and community experiences that are most invaluable to legislators. I can bring that experience, values and common sense to help our community.

2. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers? 

No, I believe that we should take care of the unfunded liabilities as soon as possible and not start any new state-funded programs until the liabilities are manageable.  ETF is a big problem. There is no true timetable or plan to bring down the liabilities; we should ensure that ETF has a plan that is followed. Additionally, we are very lucky the return on investments have been doing well, but what if there is a downturn in the economy? Is there a plan of action for this?

3. Local officials and advocates have worked to address homelessness for years, yet the crisis is growing. What proposals do you have for this complicated issue? 

As the former homeless coordinator for the City and County of Honolulu; I understand that there are different type and degrees of need for each individual and family.  We the state should not use a shotgun approach to help the homeless, but help each one group first, then go on to the next. Such as helping those individuals or families who have become recently homeless or need a job to help pay for shelter to stay off the streets. We should build more shelters for them and also private companies such as WIA are helping with sending people back home.

4. Where do you stand on labeling genetically engineered food and pesticide regulation? Are these public safety issues, or are the dangers exaggerated? 

I believe if it is nationwide law it should be done.  I don’t want to see our small mom and pop stores get hurt by the additional cost and the big box stores get away with not doing it. I would like to see scientific proof regarding this issue and ensure that we the consumers have the choice to decide.

5. Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest in the country by many indicators. What can really be done to make things like housing, food and transportation less expensive? 

One of the major issues is looking at ways to transport items back to the mainland. When we had pineapple and sugar cane there was something to take back so the ships don’t need to charge for an empty load. This can be done by increasing our agriculture such as coffee and chocolate. By looking at renewable energy and reducing the permit system for having more housing may assist in lowering costs.

6. Would you support using liquified natural gas as part of the state’s energy sources? And how can we improve the electrical distribution system so more renewable energy can be utilized to bring costs down? 

If it would help keep the cost of electricity down. However, this should not be the only source and solution to our energy problem. We should look at renewable resources in state we can use and not ship in, such as solar, geothermal, ocean, h-power or wind to name a few.

7. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Yet many citizens are unable to afford the costs that state and local government agencies impose. Would you support eliminating search and redaction charges and making records free to the  public except for basic copying costs?

If it is via electronic it should be simple and easy to provide. If they have to hunt for paper ,then maybe due to manpower cost.  However, the agencies should follow the law and provide as much of the information as possible free or at very low cost.

8. Are you satisfied with the way Hawaii’s public school system is run? How can it be run better? 

No, I believe that we have to look at ways to support the teachers and principals more, by giving them more resources. Additionally, the teachers and principals have too much paperwork and mandates they need to follow, such as No Child Left Behind. The intent was good, but to keep on teaching kids how to take test is not a way to learn.

9. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests? 

Ensure that the watersheds and preservation land are protected and we should look at ways to recycle what is torn down. Also, try to encourage any new development to be LEED certified.

10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

Traffic is a big problem throughout our island. There should be more coordination between the city and state to fix this issue.