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

The following came from Robert Helsham, a Republican candidate for state representative for District 33. There are also three Democratic candidates, Tracy Arakaki, Samuel Kong and Arnold Wong.

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: Robert Helsham 

Office: State House of Representatives, District 33 

Party: Republican 

Profession: Athletic director 

Education: AAS, RAA

Age: 49

Community organizations: BADILH, HIADA, ADCA, NIAAA, FCA Hawaii, Convoy of Hope Hawaii

Robert Helsham

Robert Helsham

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

Although there are many issues that face our community and state; my goal is simple: Revive! Restore! Rebuild!

Revive the community:  As a community I believe we have fallen asleep because we haven’t allowed ourselves the opportunity to become involved with the day-to-day affairs that affect our community. While being satisfied with the status quo and complacent to the point we feel helpless with a sense of “my vote can’t make a difference anymore.” It is time to unite and stand as a community once again to empower our government and elected leaders with a heart for their people.

Restore the people’s voice: Holding our elected officials to their duties to fulfill the will of the majority of the people ensures that once again the voice of the people will be heard. The chants of “Let the people vote, let the people vote!”; resounded throughout the halls and chambers of our Capitol, and was clearly the consensus of the majority during the special session. However, the legislative body failed to listen to the heart of the people and therefore failed in its primary duty, to do the will of the people, the majority of the people.

Rebuild trust in government: The first step of reviving our community; is to make aware to us the workings, partnerships, and the daily affairs of our elected officials to help keep them accountable to their constituents.

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? 

My proposed solution based on a limited knowledge of the overall issue: Perhaps end health care for family members after retirement or at least institute a co-pay or retirees and their families pay a percentage. Implemented within a time frame where new state workers have time to plan for their medical expenses after retirement. Also, health savings accounts?

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? 

The 2013 Homeless Service Utilization Report by the UH-Manoa Center on the Family did not have a count for any particular neighborhood, but said 9,525 homeless people used social services on Oahu in 2013. 

Low wages and high-priced housing have given Hawaii the third-largest homeless population per capita in the country. More than 7,500 people live on Oahu’s streets and beaches, but a large number of them are native Hawaiians and a growing number are transplanted from the mainland.

Therefore, through the social services system we can identify those that are from the mainland and begin charging their home states that have deliberately sent their homeless to Hawaii.

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 proper labeling of GMO foods is necessary as our culture demands more information on its food supply to make a conscience effort to live a life of health and wellness. There have been many cases reported about illness and/or sickness occurring because of GMO and non-GMO foods so the concerns are justified. 

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’s always been understood the “price of paradise” was that everything we need is imported. Therefore, one of the discussions in this past legislative session was about amending the Jones Act. I believe that this will be good place to start and revisit this regulation and determine how it can be amended to improve our economy and lower prices of our imported goods.

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 am in support of renewable energy sources for our state. I would also like to see Hawaiian Electric begin considerations of replacing one of its satellite electrical stations with a photovoltaic system. This may assist in bringing down the cost of electricity to the consumers.

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?

We need to utilize the technology afforded to us. Email, scanning copies, etc., can all be done electronically. Many residents and citizens of Hawaii have smart devices which can receive, send and share data. However, a minimal charge for this service should remain.

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

I believe we can always improve. I recommend districts. Each island district should be able to manage the funds allocated to their specific counties and towns.

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? 

Kakaako development, rail construction, and renewable energy companies fuel the economy with jobs and additional supportive needs for our business and service companies. A master plan must be developed and agreed upon to ensure that the beauty of Hawaii is retained.

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

Tourism continues to be our No. 1 commodity. We must continue to show the Aloha spirit in everything that we do and it begins in our homes. The family, community, and neighbors must be willing to come together as one just as we did when we were growing up and be accountable to each other and truly represent our motto: Ua mau ke ea o ka Aina i ka Pono.