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

The following came from Steve Wiggins, a Republican candidate for state representative for District 41. Other candidates include Republican Bryan Jeremiah, Democrats Rida Cabanilla and Matthew LoPresti and Libertarian Tom Berg.

District 41 includes Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe and West Loch.

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

Name: Steve Wiggins
Office: State Representative District 41
Party: Republican
Profession: Manager, Marine Services Company
Education: AS Business Management, Hawaii Pacific University
Age: Born in 1960
Community organizations: First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu; Mustard Seed Miracle, organization desiring to build affordable housing for low income families; Common Grace, volunteer as a mentor to young men

Steve Wiggins

Steve Wiggins


1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

Because I believe the citizens of my district deserve a representative who will work on their behalf and not for the purposes of self benefit. They deserve a representative who is a working citizen of their community and understands the challenges with making a living and raising a family in Ewa Beach. They deserve a representative who believes in public service and not self enrichment and who will listen and take their concerns to the capital.

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?

I am not satisfied the government has unfunded liabilities. Why would our government officials even allow for this to occur? This state takes in an obscene amount of money. It must reduce its spending and not just live within its means; it must live below its means until all liabilities are funded. Additionally, those who plan to draw a state government pension must contribute more to their pension funds. The state has made promises and obligations to state workers and the state must live up to those promises and obligations. However, going forward fiscal responsibility must be assumed at all levels of negotiations.

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?

Rising homelessness has become a critical issue for Hawaii. I support legislation which would allow our private sector and non-profit communities’ greater flexibility in helping solve this critical issue. Community organizations, secular and non-secular have to be part of the solution. This is not a simple problem and one simple solution will not solve the homelessness problem. I believe a compassionate approach that also delivers consequences for those who don’t want to help themselves is the direction in which the state and local government should precede. Vagrancy laws should be passed and enforced. Every individual arrested for violating our vagrancy laws should be assessed through our department of Human Services to ascertain what assistance is best provided to move this individual or family from homelessness to self reliability. During the assessment period, the individual’s skill sets should be determined. Once known, those skills should be matched with local industry to help provide a level of income. Most can agree there are three primary categories of homelessness in our community:

•  Substance addicted –If individuals are determined to be substance addicted a treatment program should be offered, the compassionate approach. If treatment is not desired it should not be mandated. However if incarceration occurs due to violation of vagrancy laws, a focus on treatment should be the goal in partnership with non-governmental agencies and organizations.

• Mentally ill – those individuals who are diagnosed with a mental illness should be treated. For those who deny treatment will fulfill their incarceration for violating vagrancy laws in an environment which attempts to address their mental health issue(s). The individual’s family can help be part of the solution and should be highlighted as a contributing factor in helping this individual return to self reliance if possible. If an individual due to medical condition cannot make a livable wage, then society has an obligation to provide a safe environment for that person.

• The working poor – Stabilize the family through government and non-government agencies and organizations. Provide training for individuals who do not possess the skill sets to make a livable wage. Promote organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Mustard Seed Miracle. Two organizations that are attempting to address families who work but are not able to afford the median price of a home on Oahu. These public-private ventures work much more effectively than public ventures alone.

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

I do not support specific labeling for genetically engineered food. If science based studies indicate GMOs are hazardous for consumption, agencies responsible for our food supply should take appropriate action and ban those substances. Those who push for the labeling of GMOs are the same people who cannot get enough government in their lives while at the same time saying the agencies can’t be trusted. You can’t have it both ways.

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?

We must look at the causes of the high cost of housing, food and transportation. It’s a supply and demand issue so either the supply of a good or service must be increased or the demand decreased for the price of that good or service to fall. Therefore, regarding housing, a great deal of additional housing must be built. However the government has a role in ensuring infrastructure can support an additional 11,000 homes on the Ewa plain for example. Currently the transportation infrastructure cannot support much more growth in west Oahu. However, by leveraging technology, improving community schools and ensuring job opportunities in these locations, additional housing can and should be built. The federal, state and local governments must implement telecommuting immediately to help reduce the traffic problems associated with Oahu.

Improving local community schools will help prevent parents and teenagers from driving all over the island to attend a school out of their district. Relocating job training to these communities would reduce the transportation costs for families and reduce traffic congestion. Expedite the full functionality of UH West as soon as possible. Deliver education through technology without having to attend a brick and mortar building. Start converting classrooms to interactive facilities where learning can be delivered without being on-site. Provide upgrades to infrastructure so students can learn and teachers can teach in an environment that is conducive to these principles.

Regarding lowering the cost of food, this can be achieved either by increasing local production or lowering the costs of delivery from out of state sources. With the artificial high prices of land, it will always be a challenge to grow local food at a reasonable cost. However, a continued focus on locally grown products should be maintained. Government should assist in helping local farmers bring their crops to market to help put downward pressure on the cost of food products shipped from outside sources. If government cannot outright assist local farmers, then it should get out of the way. I support an exemption to the Jones Act specifically for the purpose of attempting to lower the costs of goods and services in our state for a period of two years. If after 24 months of exemption, data does not support the need for a permanent exemption to the Jones Act for the non-contiguous populations of the United States, then the exemption should expire.

6. Would you support using liquefied 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 would support the use of liquefied natural gas as part of the state’s energy sources. I believe state funded agencies tasked with technological development must make electrical distribution a major focus of their efforts and redirect monies to the training of additional engineers to help solve these challenges. Additionally, these agencies need to research and bring to market technologies specifically designed for greater efficiency of electrical distribution systems.

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. Why are public records not available to the public via the internet? Why do I have to submit a check to the University of Hawaii to get a copy of the Pono Choices curriculum when that is a public school lesson curriculum developed with public funding by our public university? All public records should be available via the internet.

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

No, I’m not satisfied with the public school system. Local control must be given to local principals.

I do not believe that the current structure is the best structure for our Department of Education. At the K-12 level of education, as much control and authority must be passed to the school principal. The principals should be given all the resources to make their schools a success and these include the authority and responsibility for their positions. Principals should be given two-year contracts for the position and then held responsible for student success by defined metrics, graduation rates, college acceptance rates, standardized testing results, etc. If a school does not meet a minimum standard after two years, that principal should be moved to a different position, possibly back to the classroom, not as punishment but as recognition of their great contributions as a teacher. Not every great teacher is going to make a great principal. We should recognize this fact and not demonize individuals who try to make a difference and are not successful.

One of the missions of the BOE is to help students become good citizens. I feel the BOE has not met the challenge of helping every student understand the responsibilities of being a citizen of this state or this country. Educating young people on what makes our community great and our nation great is essential to continuing our great state and country.

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?

I wouldn’t. It’s up to the citizens of the state to decide how much development they want to endure. The community of the north shore of Oahu has been able to restrict growth on the north shore by their “Keep the Country, Country” campaign. If other communities feel they do not want increased development then they should advocate their desires and have their legislators represent their communities.

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

I believe our one party system of state government has failed the citizens of Hawaii. Government is designed to lose money and it has become excellent at the concept. Most elected officials of this state have an insatiable appetite for the people’s money. This must stop immediately. The citizens are not getting what they are paying for in a $12 billion budget. This is insane and must be stopped. The most useful action the next Legislature can take is to reduce state expenditures, so it not only lives within its means, it provides for all unfunded liabilities.