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

The following came from Thomas Kahawai, one of two Democratic candidates for state representative for District 16 in Kauai County. The other is Daynette Morikawa. Republicans Vince Flores and Vickie Franks are also running.

District 16 includes Waimea, Koloa, Niihau and Lehua.

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

Name: Thomas “Burch” Kahawai

Office:  State representative, 16th District

Party: Democrat

Profession:  Resident manager, Pastor

Education:  BA, Taylor University, Fort Wayne, Indiana;  Masters Studies, Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Age: 62

Community organizations:  See website; facebook — tkahawai@gmail.com


Thomas Kahawai

Thomas Kahawai

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

To be a voice for the people and to work for true freedom and true “pono” in our democratic process. To bring back faith and confidence in our government by restoring government to the people.

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. We’re making too many concessions before we even begin. More efficient and effective fiscal responsibility is needed in every area of government. I think departments need to be audited periodically to ensure that each department is effective and productive.

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?

It needs to be a total community effort; government, churches, mental health and other health organizations; business; and federal help; with resources; planning, etc.  We all are our brother’s keeper.

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 they are public health and safety issues; I believe that the various departments authorized to deal with these issues should be diligent and watchful as guardians of the public.

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?

I believe more should be done at the federal level through our congressional delegation. In conjunction we need to export more than we import in the way of goods and services; otherwise we are faced with always increasing our imports in drawing more visitors to Hawaii.  Tourism needs to be everybody’s business whether direct or indirect.

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?

I don’t know enough about the use of natural gas as an energy source; hopefully some research has been done on the pros and cons of natural gas use and the health and safety issues it may present in and to our community.  The question of electrical distribution and lowering the costs would be best answered by the energy and distribution providers.  I do not have the expertise to propose a legitimate solution.

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?

Yes.  Unless it is a matter of national or homeland security

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

No;  I think it is too centralized.  I believe in school-based management

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?

Clarify the purpose and good of the development; get as much information as possible in the time permitted; decide what the limits are, get consensus if possible from both sides, determine what your limits are; and decide.