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

The following came from Luella Costales, one of two Democrats running for state representative for District 36. The other is Marilyn Lee. Republican Beth Fukumoto Chang is also running.

District 36 includes MililaniMililani and Mauka.

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

Name: Luella Costales

Office: State House District 36

Party: Democrat

Profession: Self-employed, High Standard Hawaii LLC

Education: University of California at San Diego, B.A. Communication/Visual Arts, minors in Literature/Writing, Sociology

Age: 51

Community organizations: Board member, Neighborhood Board 35 Mililani Mauka/Launani Valley,  2009-Present; commissioner, Honolulu Police Commission, 2012 – present

Luela Costales, candidate House Distr. 36, 2014

Luella Costales

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature? 

I live in a great community with outstanding schools, beautiful homes and great neighbors, but our district needs someone with new and fresh ideas that can provide more effective leadership. District 36 needs a representative who not only knows and listens to the concerns of our residents, but can take action to fix the problems, problems that affect our everyday lives in our neighborhood first rather than focusing on other things. We need a representative who remains engaged with our residents, who is raising their family in our community and cares for an aging parent as well, who works with our schools and makes them better. As a member of our Neighborhood Board, a former parent representative at our high school’s School Community Council (SCC), and Honolulu police commissioner, I have been working for our residents for many years.  I have proven that I can work with other Central Oahu elected officials to form a strong coalition that will bring much needed funding and improvements to our 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? 

No, I am not satisfied with the current plans for the state’s unfunded liabilities. The current plans only provide a band aid solution to our unfunded liabilities. We will need to work with the private sector providers and develop a long-range plan that will fund for our health care commitments.

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 homelessness crisis is growing and it’s apparent to both our residents and visitors to our state. We need to (1) Increase homeless facilities so that those who want and need shelter have access to them.  (2) Revise our vagrancy laws to allow law enforcement and health/safety officials to send homeless not in shelters to service providers (mental health, drug/alcohol abuse, etc.), and (3) expand upon our transitional programs that help people move from homelessness back into a good place.

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

As we have seen over the past several years, the GMO issue has been a rapidly growing issue of concern across our nation. I feel labeling of GMOs is a federal issue and is the responsibility of the FDA and USDOA.  If there are accepted scientific studies that provide evidence of GMO/pesticide dangers, then it would be up to those agencies to require labeling or develop regulations.

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 cost of living continues to rise not only in Hawaii, but across our nation.  Because of Hawaii’s remote location, there is a higher price that we all pay for living in paradise. We must lessen the tax burden upon our residents and continue to explore ways to grow our economy.

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, I support all forms of renewable energy. We need to ensure that HECO expedites its efforts to meet our renewable energy goals by 2025.

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, with the use of technology, we should be able to eliminate the costs of access to this public information. We serve the public and they have the right to this information.

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

I am not satisfied with the way our public school system is run. We have been talking about improving our public school system for decades. The DOE is badly in need of restructuring. We need to eliminate duplicate positions and send resource positions back to the schools. Any areas such as contracting, facilities, safety, etc, that are not a part of education services should be out-sourced.

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? 

We need to continue to improve upon our state and county planning processes and develop and stick with our long range plans. I would only support development within the designated urban/community growth boundaries. Developers criticize the current process as being too slow, but it does provide several opportunities for public input and review and ensures that respective state and county agencies review the impacts of growth upon important school, transportation, environmental, etc. infrastructures.

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

I would like to see a coordinated effort between our state and county transportation departments so we can avoid the traffic gridlock we are now experiencing with so many projects going on at the same time. We cannot be doing work on primary and alternate routes simultaneously, creating a huge disruption to the public. Yes, many of these projects are now badly needed, but why have the departments waited so long to start them?