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

The following came from Miles Shiratori, one of five Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor. There are also three Republican candidates and one Independent. 

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

Name: Miles Shiratori

Office:  Lieutenant governor

Party: Democrat 

Profession:  Investor

Education:  Graduated High School

Age: 61

Community organizations: I Have Been with Lima Kokua as a volunteer for over 10 years, where 100 percent of all proceeds are used for various charities. Winners at Work for two years and a volunteer with the American Red Cross for over eight years.

Miles Shiratori

Miles Shiratori

1.  Why are you running for lieutenant governor?  

In 2012, the citizens of Hawaii decided that the status quo was no longer acceptable and voted for change. Unfortunately, things have not really changed, other then for the worse. The voters keep re-electing the same old politicians and putting them back in office instead of taking a chance on putting someone new into office with fresh and new ideas and goals. The power of the people has been stripped and the people are no longer in control of our government. Our politicians don’t have principles anymore. Now it’s all about staying in a position of power over the people. Our forefathers never intended politics to be a career for professional politicians. Today, there is more government control, more regulations, decreased individual rights and an overall tolerance of an elitist dictatorship. In a true democracy, the power is held by the people and not by the government. We need to have term limits and numerous other changes. 

We need a bold and decisive leader who can stand up and fight the status quo, a leader capable of setting our priorities to improve our lives today, and invest in our future and the future of our children. We need a leader who is innovative and a visionary. I am that leader.

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? 

We need to have our government employee collective bargaining process reformed. The power of the government sector unions and their impact on elections is too great. Government employee’s salaries and benefits, particularly pensions, are financially unsustainable and collective bargaining reform is needed.

The other solution is to start setting aside money now to address the $16 billion dollar unfunded liability problem — and it needs to start now.

The time for state and local governments to offer a defined contribution retirement plan that protects both the taxpayer dollars and the public employees retirement security is now.

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

I am against making genetically engineered food available until each individual product is proven safe. GMOs need to be labeled and we need to have the state regulate the type of pesticide they are using. The public has the right to know that the food is safe.     

4. 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?      

I would use the area at Barbers Point that the federal government gave back to the state of Hawaii. We can fix it up and provide housing for the homeless, especially for our working homeless.  They deserve it.  In addition, we can provide job training for people entering or re-entering the work force — which increases our tax base.

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 want to provide seed money to grow new industry, clean industry, that provides good-paying jobs. I want to provide seed money to develop new crops and agricultural products. We should be able to grow alternative fuel sources and/or additives to our gasoline. With our climate and soil, we should be able to grow high yield and exotic products. We can give tax breaks and/or seed money to farmers to grow new crops and agricultural products for our local economy and export. We need to reform the Jones Act so that it will create competition and lower the cost of shipping.

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

There is nothing wrong with going to a public school. As time goes by things get lax, so we must overhaul Hawaii’s public school system to make sure that our children are never denied going to school to learn. Education is very important for the future of our children and they’re children’s children. We must invest in educational excellence. Starting with quality pre-school for all and create higher expectations and more innovative ways of learning. 

7. Would you support using liquefied natural gas as part of the state’s energy sources? And what thoughts do you have on improving the electric distribution system (the grid) so more renewable energy can be in the mix?      

Yes, I would support using liquefied natural gas. We can work with the electric company and see where and how improved distribution to the grid can be accomplished. 

8. 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 would eliminate all charges and since these are public records, it should be free only through the Internet. If you want it printed then there should be basic copying fees. We need to work towards an open and paperless society. 

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?    

Good question.  Take a look at the Ewa Plains and the Kapolei area. If we keep spreading development out as it has been done, there will be no farmlands to grow food and no open spaces of greenery. Before you know it from the sea to the top of our mountains will be covered with houses. There will be no room to grow our economy. My solution is we need to build spaces where people can live and work. This should include a balance of parks, business, entertainment and residences. We can’t stop progress and we can’t stop population growth.  These should be places people will be proud to call home — a balance between nature and people. 

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

Again, I would have to go back to the need to improve public education. I still come across children, teens who have graduated from high school, young adults and adults who can’t read or write.

During these past few years, in the papers and on the news, teachers have been arrested for dealing drugs and sexually and physically assaulting their students. 

This is why I believe there should be drug testing for teachers, a performance Rating done, and they should have a Continuing Education Program for teachers every couple of years. Also, the teachers union needs to be busted and when they agree on something they should have to abide by it. All the teachers union does is file grievances to invalidate drug testing and performance reviews that they agreed to have in their last contract. This should be mandatory. This way we can weed out the bad teachers and keep the good ones.