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

The following came from Al Frenzel, Libertarian candidate for state representative for District 44. Democrat Jo Jordan and Cedric Gates of the Green Party are also running.

District 44 includes WaianaeMakahaMakua and Maili.

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

Name:  Al Frenzel 

Office:  House of Representatives, District 44

Party: Libertarian

Profession:  Retired military colonel, local businessman

Education:  BSBA, MSBA

Age: 57

Community organizations:  OMPO representative for Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board #24; president and founder of Malama Makaha

Al Frenzel

Al Frenzel

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature? 

I became motivated to run for office because I saw my representative deliberately ignore an important community issue. I am sincerely concerned that if a representative of the people will not do what is pono on a simple issue, then how can they be trusted when a tough issue arises? Over the past three years, my constituents and I have been poorly represented with regards to the Makaha Bridges Project being railroaded through the approval process.  The incumbent not only failed to support us in our struggle to save Makaha beach, but also put obstacles in our way and impeded our efforts.

I have a passion to do what is pono for my constituents, even if the cause is controversial or not the position of bureaucrats or special interests. My special interests are the needs of the community and its people. I have already achieved a fulfilling career; have 20 years of education and many life experiences to draw upon. I serve no masters and owe favors to no one; I do not seek this office to pay my bills or feed my ego, therefore I plan to donate my annual salary to the community. Unlike the incumbent, I do not have to conform to party politics and I will do what is pono for the 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? 

I believe in a balanced budget with no deficit spending or off-the-books or deferred liabilities. All obligations must be accounted for in the budget process, especially during budget execution. The only way to meet unfunded liabilities is to raise taxes, reduce spending or both – it is that simple. I do not support raising taxes through legislation. Tax revenues must only be increased through growth of the economy and prosperity; this is where our attention should be focused. Government spending must be reined in so that expenditures do not exceed economically sound revenue projections. When surpluses are created, they should be saved and not spent. When deficits are created due to unforeseen economic downturns, then a commensurate level of program cuts must be taken unless surplus funds have been saved for these rainy days.

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? 

At this time we need to closely monitor Mayor Caldwell’s new programs of “compassionate disruption,” “sit-lie ban” and “Housing First.”  These programs appear to have had success in mainland cities and have survived legal challenges. Everything else done so far by the state or city and county of Honolulu have not helped the homeless situation.  Until these new and promising initiatives are given a chance to prove themselves, the state should focus on growing the economy and balancing the budget, as a rising tide will lift all boats.

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

First and foremost, I support my constituents, the majority of whom are against GMOs and the overuse of pesticides and herbicides. I strongly believe the public has a right to know through labeling whether a product is a GMO as well as its country of origin. A better explanation of genetic engineering should be provided to the public because of all its positive and necessary aspects. Genetic engineering has been occurring for thousands of years, with much progress achieved over the past 200 years. Increased crop yields and resistance to diseases and pests through genetic hybriding has allowed the world’s population to increase while reducing starvation. I don’t believe the general public understands the magnitude of devastation caused by weeds, insects and pests to our crops, especially without the use of pesticides, herbicides and hardier, high-yield varieties bred to withstand them. Nevertheless, the public has a right to know product make and product origin through mandatory labeling.

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?

The Jones Act is the single largest contributor to higher costs of living in Hawaii and until the Jones Act is repealed, meaningful improvements cannot be achieved. Legislators that fail to recognize this issue and take it head-on are not being honest to their constituents and are more concerned with special interests and politics as usual in Hawaii.

Reducing Hawaii’s extraordinarily high energy costs through geothermal energy production would also greatly reduce the cost of living and business operating expenses. The impact of lower energy costs from geothermal production would have a dramatic impact on the economy and the creation of new jobs in Hawaii Nei. Other countries with similar access to volcanic geothermal energy have had no environmental issues while simultaneously lowering costs per KWH to the lowest in the world. The first geothermal power plant in New Zealand opened in 1958 and geothermal now supplies about 10 percent of that nation’s electricity. The National Energy Authority says 30 percent of Iceland’s electricity is produced by geothermal sources and is available at 4.5 cents per kwh, with lower pricing available for bulk purchases. Regarding safety, DLNR recently reported that these two countries, plus Japan and Indonesia, have seen decades of safe and economical use of geothermal energy. Geothermal is an enormous untapped resource that remains hostage by Hawaii’s greedy energy monopoly and their financially supported puppets.

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 absolutely support LNG for reducing the costs of electricity and overuse of expensive crude oil. The United States has recently untapped enough cheap natural gas to wean itself off foreign oil imports for hundreds of years to come. I am deeply interested in our electric grid and renewable energy production.  So interested, I am one of six plaintiffs in attorney John Carroll’s class action Breach of Public Trust lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric, the State of Hawaii, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The purpose of the lawsuit is to rein in HECO’s monopoly power and force them into using more renewable fuel sources, allow more residential solar use, lower costs, and improve the ailing infrastructure. HECO is one of several “semi-autonomous” agencies that have been under my scrutiny and criticism; BWS and HART being two other culprits that also need much closer supervision by elected officials. An example of HECO’s arrogance is that in a recent hearing on the lawsuit, HECO’s attorneys argued that electricity is not a natural resource but a manufactured commodity. Fortunately, Judge Sakamoto ruled otherwise, stating that because electricity can be produced by using several natural, renewable resources such as solar, wind, and geothermal sources, electricity and its production are constitutionally protected. In other words, the state of Hawaii is in violation of our Public Trust Doctrine in the state Constitution because electricity is natural, not a commodity created by HECO. I can be trusted to represent, protect and defend the public’s interests in regards to energy and all of Hawaii’s natural resources.

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 am a strong advocate of government transparency and have often requested public records from State and local agencies. In virtually all cases, the costs were waived or within a no-cost threshold, especially if provided via electronic media. However, paying 25 cents per page for copying charges is unacceptable since the real cost to run a black and white copy is more like 3 cents; this overcharging can be particularly burdensome when needing copies of large files or reports that aren’t available electronically. I also find the $5 charge for a CD copy to be far higher than the actual cost to produce one. So in this regard, I would strongly support legislation to significantly reduce or eliminate costs if free electronic copies cannot be made available. I would also support legislation to eliminate or greatly reduce costs for searching and redaction, especially since both of these functions are self-inflicted problems created by the provider and not the requester.

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

Is anyone satisfied with Hawaii’s public school system? I should hope not! High school graduation rates are unacceptably low. Nationwide over 22 percent of ninth-graders do not graduate; the numbers on the Leeward Coast are worse (over 30 percent).  This is unacceptable because without a high school diploma success in life is very difficult.  Federal control of our school system via “Race to the Top” and “Common Core” must be rescinded and teachers and parents need to take our schools back through active and consistent participation. I would support or author legislation to roll back “Common Core.”  I will also do everything I can to replace temporary classrooms with permanent ones and install much-needed air conditioning throughout all schools with mean daytime temperatures above 80 degrees.

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? 

The two issues are not mutually exclusive, especially when considering how narrow our development options are. Our labor and land costs have been barriers to entry for industrial development, therefore environmental harm from this sector is very low and easy to monitor. Tourism expansion must be respectful of environmental exploitation and in this regard, Hawaii’s record has been very good although vigilance in this area must continue. On the other hand, the government sector’s management of infrastructure growth has been environmentally devastating and must improve through better oversight, management and leadership. Examples of government mismanagement harming the environment and our precious resources include:  inadequate maintenance and repair of water mains causing frequent water main breaks; frequent sewage spills and non-compliant sewer treatment facilities; diversion and rezoning of agricultural lands to non-agriculture uses; improper maintenance and inspection of facilities (e.g. Honolulu Harbor – molasses spill).

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

As a retired Army Colonel who studied and taught force structure planning at the Army War College, I strongly concur with Department of Defense recommended cuts of 19,800 personnel for the island of Oahu announced on June 26, 2014. The DoD’s recently released Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR 2014) calls for a reduction of as many as 130,000 active duty Army soldiers worldwide. To meet this fiscally constrained personnel cap the Army identified bases within 19 states to absorb these cuts; Hawaii is on the Army’s cut list. Bases in Hawaii now being considered by the Army to meet these cuts include Schofield Barracks (16,000) and Fort Shafter (3,800).  I strongly believe the state of Hawaii should embrace these cuts and call for the return of Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, Dillingham, Makua, and Kolekole pass access to the state of Hawaii.

Schofield Barracks’ and Wheeler AAF’s numerous family housing units and unaccompanied barracks facilities house 37,799 soldiers and their family members. These newly built and newly renovated facilities would make a huge dent in DHHL’s waiting list as well as providing accommodations for the growing homeless population on Oahu. These homes could immediately provide truly affordable housing to deserving beneficiaries that have been on DHHL’s waiting list for more than a lifetime in many cases.

I believe the bases, property and facilities to be turned over to the state are worth over $100 billion and these assets (most of which are new or completely renovated over the past 15 years) would greatly outweigh the short-term economic impact of losing the soldiers’ payroll and local jobs supporting the Army in Hawaii. The amount of money military members spend off base is often exaggerated and the construction boom on these installations is over. Many of the contractors that support base facilities would still be needed as the housing, facilities and infrastructure will still need to be maintained. Moreover, there will be many new contractor jobs necessary to clean up and mitigate environmental hazards that in some cases, such as the live fire ranges, will take many years and many millions of dollars to clean up.

Without critical cargo ships and readily available cargo airlift, the Division at Schofield is isolated and severely handicapped by the tyranny of distance in the Pacific. Army forces from the West Coast can deploy much quicker to any hot-spot in the Pacific. More importantly, the Army on Oahu lacks critically needed “forced entry” capability to allow it to enter hostile environments, a capability already possessed by the U.S. Marines presently on Oahu and throughout the Pacific. The taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for redundant forces competing to do the same job, especially when one (Army in Hawaii) is not capable or designed to deploy directly into the fray like the Marine Forces in the Pacific are designed to do. Simply stated, the Army’s forces on Oahu do not effectively contribute to the National Security Strategy or Military Defense Strategy, which are key to justifying their existence.

I have recently established the Oahu Council for Army Downsizing and have been inviting like-minded organizations throughout Oahu to be represented on the council to join in a concerted effort to influence Oahu’s citizens and their elected representatives to embrace the DoD’s proposed downsizing. The state of Hawaii should not fight this issue as the other 18 states will desperately do; but instead, should willingly agree to the cuts and ask the Congress and President Obama for a financial transition assistance package to ease the short-term impact that will affect some businesses and jobs on Oahu. This is a once-in-a-century opportunity. If military forces on Oahu are not cut during this round, then nothing will change militarily on Oahu —there will never be another round of cuts like this in any of our lifetimes. The valuable assets at Schofield, Wheeler, Makua and Dillingham will never be returned to the people of Hawaii.