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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 4 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Marcia Tagavilla, Republican candidate for state representative for District 32. Democrat Linda Ichiyama, who did not respond to the questionnaire, is also running.
District 32 covers Moanalua Valley, Salt Lake, Aliamanu.
Name: Marcia Ann R. Tagavilla
Office: State House of Representatives, District 32
Profession: Care Giver, Tagavilla Adult Residential Care Home
Education: Master’s in Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Moanalua High School
Community organizations: Member, Salt Lake/Aliamanu Neighborhood Board (#18); youth and college leader, First Assembly of God Church
1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?
As a second- generation Filipino-American, I’m a proud product of Moanalua High School and the Salt Lake community. My family has been living in Salt Lake for over 35 years and we run an Adult Residential Care Home. I am running because I want to serve my community in a way that will bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our governing bodies so that Hawaii can head in a better direction by intentionally addressing issues, such as Hawaii’s high cost of living and planning for long-term care in our communities.
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?
Last year, the Legislature took steps in the right direction by enacting a plan to address the state’s unfunded liabilities. The Legislature needs to be fiscally responsible with our tax money and I support passing bills that will continue to close this debt. Moreover, I’m concerned about the impact unfunded liabilities has on the taxpayer, and therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for the Legislature to pass policies that encourage economic growth in Hawaii so that increased tax revenues can also bring in funds for financial obligations now and in the future.
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?
Until the state can alleviate some of Hawaii’s high cost of living and lack of affordable housing, the issue of homeless will continue to grow. After working with families in Waianae, some homeless and some struggling to make a living wage, I found that there are already programs and organizations in place that can help with job/skill training. The problem, however, still came back to Hawaii’s high cost of living and lack of affordable housing. Hawaii needs to be a business-friendly state that does not overtax small businesses and encourages job growth so that individuals can at least afford housing.
4. Where do you stand on labeling genetically engineered food and pesticide regulation? Are these public safety issues, or are the dangers exaggerated?
As society becomes increasingly health conscious and more educated about how the food we consume can translate into possible health benefits and risks, I believe the general public will continue to demand labeling. The private sector has already begun labeling food, for example “non-GMO” and “gluten-free” products, so I would support labeling if this is the direction the general public is headed. Before approving such regulation, however, the legislature must continue discussing the financial cost and benefits of labeling to producers and consumers.
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?
Individuals work hard at their jobs and sometimes need to work a second job just to keep up with our cost of living. If we could find some kind of tax relief for the average citizen, this will give them more disposable income to help pay for things like housing, food, and transportation.
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?
Energy costs contribute to Hawaii’s high cost of living and therefore, the state should continue to consider tapping into other sources of energy, which includes liquefied natural gas. I support renewable energy and essential upgrades to the electrical distribution system, especially if it will help to diversify our energy consumption and bring down costs to residents in the long run.
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, I support eliminating charges that overburden our citizens.
8. Are you satisfied with the way Hawaii’s public school system is run? How can it be run better?
With the current system, I sense that teachers and parents are undermined from being able to teach and engage in the best interest of the student. I would support an audit of the DOE system to see how local schools are funded and the percent of funds that actually goes to the teachers and students in the classroom.
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?
Through deliberate discussion as a state, we need to agree on what areas can be developed and what areas need to be protected. When there are clear lines of where we can and cannot develop, we can proceed to build and maintain such areas. We have current laws and procedures in place that protects and slows down the process for new developments.
10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
The number of seniors in our state is rapidly increasing. We need to ensure that our state has a plan for those who are aging in place and is continuously examining how we can protect our seniors and support caregivers. As Hawaii grows more expensive and our senior population enlarges, we need to find ways to spread awareness about funding and addressing long-term care.