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

The following came from Jonathan Ho’omanawanui, Republican candidate for state representative for District 14. Democrat Derek Kawakami is also running.

District 14 is in Kauai and covers HanaleiPrincevilleKīlaueaAnaholaKapaʻaWailua.

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

Name: Jonathan Ho’omanawanui

Office: State Representative District 14 Kauai

Party: Republican

Profession: Liquor control officer

Education: Masters of Science in Criminology

Age: 50

Community organizations: Communications Honor Society; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Veterans Council Kauai; Council of Administration (VFW) Honolulu

Jonathan Ho'omanawanui

Jonathan Ho’omanawanui

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

Preamble of our State Constitution:

“We, the people of Hawaii, grateful for Divine Guidance, and mindful of our Hawaiian heritage and uniqueness as an island State, dedicate our efforts to fulfill the philosophy decreed by the Hawaii State motto, (Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono). Which means, “We reserve the right to control our destiny, to nurture the integrity of our people and culture, and to preserve the quality of life that we desire…”

However, somewhere along the line the government forgot about the people… and their voices went unheard and the people became nothing more than just shadow…

I have always believed in equal opportunity that each and every one of us should have a voice. A voice in government in which government is powered by the people, we the people and for the people. Our government should not be about the red and blue or Republicans vs. Democrats… it should be about leadership, trust and accountability…

The people want leaders that have coherence, capacity and competence. They want leaders that know how to transform and interact, leading from the rear to empower his subordinates… leading from the middle, by mentoring and coaching… and leading from the front, by setting the example.

Finally, the people want leaders who are honest, humble, and direct… but most importantly, the people want someone who can listen to their voices. No longer can government pretend to just hear them, government must now, start to listen…

Far too long, promises have been made for the purposes of winning an election… time and time again, those promises have been relinquished leaving the people to no longer trust the government. I believe that any promises made during or before an election is premature. Needless to say, the tentative plan today is on the back of my business card.

If elected I will have an open door to share your concerns whether it be one-on-one or collectively. I will represent not only your best interest, but the interests of all people. I will endure with diligence, and represent the voices that has long, gone unheard… I will do my best to be the light for the people, so they are no longer shadows…it is because of you… the people of Kaua’i and the great state of Hawai`i that chooses your representatives.

Let’s bring back government the way it supposed to be…for the people, of the people and by the people…God bless.

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?

This is caused by unemployment. The younger class needs to add to the circle by being employed so that their paychecks can add to the retiring class as taxes are being taken out. The cycle is broken. No jobs mean no retirement for the elders. We can fund it for now until we come up with a strategic plan. Again tax incentives with the implementation of the new H.EL.P. (Hawaii Employers Landlords Program) in place will allow for a foundation that can be readjusted in time to meet the new economy’s needs.

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?

I would like to combine the education efforts with the new H.E.L.P. This new program will become a foundation to build upon. Initially the employers and landlords who house the homeless and employ the jobless will be afforded tax incentives because we all know that raising taxes is not the solution to homelessness and joblessness, education is. Especially in this current economy printing more money will cause inflation. This will also help the small businesses thrive, building a balance between government and the private sector. I support farming and believe the island of Kauai can be a model of sustainability for all of Hawaii. We can live off the land we occupy.

Secondly many of these homeless comes with a one-way ticket. If we can establish maybe a questioner when buying airline tickets we may have a chance of noticing if they have family and maybe a job lined up before entering Hawaii. I believe the Hawaii Tourism Authority can assist with this without placing any infringement on civil liberties. Furthermore have they travelled to Hawaii before, have they any family of some sort. Maybe place a deadline for one-way tickets. Homeland Security would probably help out with the issue too.

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

It’s a public safety issue because it is huge amounts of pesticides that we are talking about. Not some roach spray. The GMO is probably not the issue, it is the chemicals that causes health issues.

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?

It does not have to be that high. Sustainability means that we produce our own beef by having our own USDA facility. Having the beef sent to the mainland and back causes these prices to skyrocket because we don’t have the facility plus the means of slaughter. Every island should have these resources and factories to process and handle everything here on island. If the transportation routes and shipping goes down we are left with a world of hurt. This is only one aspect.

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?

We are already doing it. Propelled energy and the new solar panel creates energy from the sun and wind. As far as liquid energy natural gas is concerned it is also hazardous and will probably fall under public safety to be regulated. Educating the public will be encouraged.

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?

I would support it for now.

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

It is not a one size fits all situation. At the top of my platform is education at all levels. In one aspect our school system in Hawaii is ranked very low due to lack of funds, resources and hiring the right person for the job. I will restore the leadership back to the principal for he and the teacher knows what the student’s immediate needs are. Every school has a different need. Huge amounts of monies are spent to evaluate a teacher’s performance with behavior students (Education Effectiveness System). There should be a system designed to improve the growth of our students. Children with physical and mental limitations to include: autism, Asperger syndrome and ADHD/ADD should be contracted out to specialists, which will allow teachers to focus on the needs of the other students. To my understanding the system in place evaluates a teacher three to four times a year. Even that could be readjusted to once every two years.

According to the state of Hawaii’s weighted formula of 2004 to 2005, Legislature Act 51, Hawaii met six out of 10 empowerment benchmarks. However, every school has a demand of its own. To answer this question would be difficult due to the restrictions and control by collective bargaining that limits the powers of the principal. Especially per student cost that will vary because each student has a separate need. It’s not a one size fits all.

Staffing and decisions should come from the leader. The students cannot be compared to any other state. Needless to say, our culture and style of learning is unique. Our students’ upbringing is nothing like our state counterparts. I understand that we have a diverse population, but without the power to make changes, the students cannot be transformed. Day in day out the same thing. Without leadership there is no creativity. Learning becomes a business and not fun anymore. Redundancy will be overwhelmed for both the teacher and the students.

The principal should be measured, if not he is basically a figurehead taking up space and funding. He should earn his salary. Only the leader knows what his subordinates, faculty and students need in his/her school.

First I will propose working on giving the first line supervisor/principal the authority to build a team of staff that will work for their immediate culture and environment. Like I mentioned in the aforementioned that every school has a different need. The geographical location varies as well as academics. One district may not tailor a specific study in math per se, but another school may need help in math. Geographically more math-savvy students might live in that general area and more English-savvy students might live in Hawaii Kai. Whatever the case may be, the leader needs his authority back and not be micromanaged. It is the leader that knows his faculty and student’s needs. 

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?

Well I know tourism is one of the largest industries that supports Hawaii, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. We will continue to encourage tourism. Minimize the TAT so that more tourists will be able to afford coming back in the future. That has to be managed carefully. We need to keep the culture and ways of life so many will have that spiritual experience when visiting the islands. Hotels should be designated to certain areas on the island preserving areas that are sacred sustaining the environment. Tourists come to enjoy and relax here. We don’t want them to ever in the future say that there is nothing more to see in Hawaii and shy away to other countries for less money.

Our homeless and unemployment/jobless will have an impact on our tourist visiting too. Crime and drug activity will also have an effect of sustaining our tourism economy. There needs to be a treatment center on the island of Kauai to prevent recidivism. Kauai’s master plan talks about transportation; needless to say, the aforementioned introduces the core issues that could affect tourism.

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

Hawaiian home issues. The housing should be able to adjust to the income of that individual. It is not fair to make it standardized across the board. Some people have fixed incomes and still will not qualify to live off the land let alone housing. Not everyone has an income to meet the threshold. This needs to be changed to allow Hawaiians to move on the land. More land is being leased out for businesses. Where is the money? Is it being taken and placed in a pool that the state deems necessary for other uses? Let’s get my mom who has a social security income of $1,100 dollars a month a home to call home. She is 74 years old and still does not have her own place. She has good credit and income. What’s the problem? She been on the list for over 30, maybe 40 years.

I understand politics but why treat the oppressed like this? The department tried to tie my income in for her house. All this land and there’s no awarding going on? I served my country in the United States Army so that elected officials can make good decisions and go on and live safe in the community and they treat an elder like this. Freedom is not free it’s a privilege. The system needs to replace the leadership. It is being mismanaged.