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

The following came from Cynthia Thielen, one of two Republican candidates for state representative for District 50. The other is Joan Hood. Democrat Holly Broman is also running.

District 50 includes Kailua and Kaneohe Bay.

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

Name: Cynthia Thielen

Office: State House of Representatives District 50 (Kailua/Kaneohe Bay) 

Party: Republican

Profession: Land use and environmental attorney (retired)

Education: University of Hawaii, BA; William Richardson School of Law, JD (Law Review)

Age: 80

Community organizations: Board of National Conference of Environmental Legislators; Founding member of national Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN); founding chair of Children’s Discovery Center; member SCBM Kainalu Elementary School; former vice chair Kailua Neighborhood Board; created Honolulu Zoo Show and Tell Program; Lanikai-Kailua bikeway committee.

Cynthia Thielen

Cynthia Thielen

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

I am running for re-election to continue improving Hawaii’s economy by replacing costly fossil fuel with renewable energy.  This fastest growing sector keeps money in our economy and provides good paying jobs for young graduates, enabling them to stay and work in Hawaii.

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 support laws prohibiting any further raids on these funds and requiring annual payments into the funds until they are replenished.

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 Housing First model is a true solution to homelessness.  Multiple studies in different regions have shown that moving people into permanent housing with support services attached is the most effective way to get people off the streets and help them towards self-sufficiency.

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

I support the right of consumers to know.  Since this has become a larger issue throughout the USA, there will be more research performed to examine health impacts. 

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?  

Honolulu City Council could modify its Land Use Ordinance and allow “infilling” in urban areas.  This would provide more moderately priced homes or apartments in urban areas, while leaving agricultural land in ag production.  Promote “grow local” and “eat local” to support and expand our agricultural industries, thereby reducing costs and improving health.  Build a share-a-ride program and bring back the jitney buses in appropriate areas.

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? 

No, I would not support LNG, as it is fossil fuel derived.  Instead, we should tap into ocean power, since Hawaii has among the best ocean energy climates in the world.  The Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe is deploying the first of three Wave Energy Converters, and that renewable, less costly power, will reduce use of fossil fuel.  As to Hawaiian Electric’s electrical distribution system (grid), HECO should have been taking steps to upgrade its grid.  We have passed HB 1943, and the Public Utilities Commission has issued orders to HECO to implement a plan to upgrade the grid.  Too many people have been waiting long months to hook up their PV.  

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? 


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

I support moving more funding and control to the local schools.  The principals and teachers know more about their educational needs.  One size does NOT fit all, and the central DOE bureaucracy should release significantly more control and funding to local schools. 

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? 

These interests do not compete if the new “development” is in renewable energy.  Renewable energy, particularly Wave Energy Converters, have no significant impact on the environment.  In fact, WEC’s act as fish aggregates, something supported by fishing communities world-wide.  

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

Act 56, which established the Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project.  The work will examine hemp’s abilities to pull contaminants from the soil.  Hemp mixed with lime and a binder, is widely used in other countries in construction.  This “hempcrete” is termite-proof and would be a good source of building material for Hawaii.  With the possibility of three crops a year, Hawaii could use its agricultural land to reduce some of the costs of construction.  Build with locally grown materials.