Editor’s note:For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Maile Shimabukuro, a Democratic candidate for state senator for District 21. Other candidates include Democrat Michael Kahikina, Republicans Johnnie-Mae Perry, Randy Roman and Tercia Ku, and nonpartisan Ruth Brown.
District 21 coversKalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maʻili, Waianae, Makaha, Makua
Community organizations: E Ala Voyaging Canoe advisory/fundraising committee; Waianae Hawaiian Civic Club honorary member; fundraising committee for legal services organization; Defend Waianae sponsor
1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?
I have the experience, energy, and passion for the job. My philosophy is that the best indicator of how government is performing is how we care for most vulnerable in our society. Each session I have passed legislation aimed at this group.
For example, this session I passed bills to help child sex abuse victims. One bill allows divorce judges to change the name of a child who has been abused, so that they no longer have to carry the perpetrator’s name. Another bill gives child sex abuse victims two more years to bring civil suits against their perpetrators, if the statute of limitations had previously expired.
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 think that 2013’s Act 268 is a good plan. The law requires payments to be spread out over 30 years until the HI Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund is fully solvent. I also liked the proposal to stop paying Medicare premiums for higher income level retirees.
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?
We need to bring down the cost of building homes. Around 2007 I worked with Sen. English on passing a bill to legalize indigenous architecture/natural building for residential structures. I plan to work with the counties to find model building codes to implement the legislation so that people can live in yurts, hale, earth bag, and other similar sustainable and cost efficient homes. I will also push to legalize “container” homes, which convert old Matson and other shipping containers into residential units.
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 labeling. I do believe this is a public safety issue.
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?
Encourage more people to try riding the bus, using bikes, the rail, and other forms of alternative transportation. I catch the bus regularly to the Capitol, and it’s like a “reward” every time I step on. I can use my smartphone, read, write, socialize, sleep, and just plain relax in air-conditioned comfort. Even if I have to stand up it still beats driving hands down. If you live far from the bus stop you can ride your bike and store it on the bike rack or park nearby. At just $60 a month (cost of an adult bus pass), you save tons of money too!
See No. 3 regarding my ideas on housing. In regards to food, teach people about natural farming. It’s a growing trend, and people can do it in their own backyards.
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?
Yes regarding liquified natural gas. I hope Hawaii can consider de-regulating electricity like they have in Texas. I believe this would allow more renewable energy sources to plug into the grid.
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, but perhaps on a sliding fee scale basis to keep costs down for taxpayers.
8. Are you satisfied with the way Hawaii’s public school system is run? How can it be run better?
Allow charter schools to be eligible for capital improvement project (CIP funding). There was a measure trying to do this in the past session, but unfortunately it failed. I think it’s terrible that charter schools have to turn away students due to the lack of classroom space. A lot of these overflow students end up in private schools, which puts immense financial strain on the families. I think it would be a win-win because more students would be able to stay in their communities, which would increase the per pupil funding, create more jobs for homegrown teachers, keep more spending money in parents’ pockets, etc.
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?
Follow the example of the North Shore to fight for and succeed in preserving a portion of Turtle Bay.
10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
I introduced a bill this past session to preserve state taro lands. It was recommended by the Taro Purity and Security Task Force. Unfortunately, the bill died in conference committee at the very end of session. I will re-introduce this measure.
Also, I think issues of political sovereignty and justice for Hawaiians should proceed as a two-part process. First, Hawaiians should be “recognized” as a race that the U.S. owes reparations to for past wrongs. This would preserve their current benefits. The second step is to allow the Hawaiians to decide for themselves about how they want to build their nation and sovereignty.
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