Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Donna Mercado Kim, a Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 1. Six other Democrats are also running, along with two Republicans and two nonpartisan candidates.
The district is essentially urban Honolulu, but it stretches from Hawaii Kai in East Honolulu to Waipahu in west Oahu and Mililani in central Oahu. Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.
Name: Donna Mercado Kim
Office: U.S. Congress, 1st District
Profession: State legislator
Education: Farrington High School; Washington State University, B.A.
1. Why are you running for the U.S. House of Representatives?
Hawaii needs a strong, effective voice and advocate in Washington, D.C. My 31 years as a state representative, City Council member, state senator, and current Senate president, complemented by my business experience, make me uniquely qualified to represent the people of our state on Capitol Hill.
I offer my candidacy because it is important that Hawaii’s representative be able to hit the ground running from day one and have the credentials to be taken seriously in Congress.
2. Do you believe climate change is real? If so, what can the United States do to control carbon emissions?
Yes. In 2009, as the Senate’s Ways and Means chair, I supported the passage of the Hawaii Clean Energy initiative, which established the state’s policies and goals regarding reducing fossil fuel use and stimulating renewable energy development. In Congress, I will work to increase our investments in and support for renewable energy resource development, energy-related technology, and transportation vehicles and systems that reduce our heavy dependence on fossil fuels.
3. Where do you draw the line between the government’s national security needs and the privacy of its citizens?
I believe that national security and local law enforcement agencies have legitimate interests in ensuring the security of our citizens here and abroad. However, I also believe that the public should be aware of the breadth and scope of the government’s activities in this arena since we are all directly affected. News reports on federal security spending and recent whistleblower exposes tell me that Congress is failing in its oversight responsibilities. Congress represents the people of this nation and should do more to shine a light on what government is doing and how it’s spending our money. It shouldn’t take embarrassing exposes to catalyze action on Capitol Hill.
4. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
We must defend our nation and our citizens when there is a direct threat to our national security and interests.
5. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — how should the government continue to support these entitlements? Are reforms necessary?
Yes and yes. Partisan bickering on Capitol Hill has stymied meaningful, substantive debate and discussion on strengthening these entitlement programs. I would oppose any diminution in benefits, but at the same time, I recognize that the status quo will be unacceptable in meeting the needs of a graying American population. A bipartisan approach will be vital to enacting reforms, and it will take presidential and congressional leadership and compromise to make this a reality.
6. Congress has struggled in recent years to reach agreement on budget deficits, the national debt and spending in general. What would be your approach to fiscal matters?
Bipartisanship will be absolutely necessary in reaching accord on budgetary and other fiscal matters. I do believe that Congress can work together if we recognize that our priority, as Americans and representatives, is to put our country first and our individual ideologies second.
7. It has been difficult to bridge the partisan divide in Washington lately. How would you make a difference?
Compromise is necessary, and my experience in state and county legislative bodies has demonstrated my ability to work with others on achieving goals that are for the greater good. In my 31 years in public service, I have a proven record of developing key relationships with my colleagues to form coalitions that addressed and resolved challenging issues.
8. What is your policy on immigration?
I support a pathway for citizenship that requires those who are undocumented to comply with our laws by paying their taxes, a penalty, and undergo background checks. Any immigration reform proposal must represent a measured, comprehensive approach to the situation.
9. What is your view of the role of the U.S. military in the islands?
The armed forces in Hawaii are key to national defense, security in the Asia-Pacific region, and our local economy. We must be more proactive in supporting the military in Hawaii and I will do everything necessary to ensure a strong and continuing military presence in our state.
10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
I am concerned for our senior citizens and their ability to afford the high cost of living on their fixed incomes. In the Senate, I protected senior pensions and in Congress I will protect promised and hard-earned Social Security benefits. I pledge to institute a program that will incentivize Americans to save more for retirement and long-term care.