Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 4 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Josh Green, a Democratic candidate for state senator for District 3. Libertarian Michael Last is also running.

District 3 covers Kona and Kaʻu on the southern portion of the Big Island.

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

Name: Josh Green

Office: State Senate, 3rd District

Party: Democrat

Profession: Physician/legislator

Education: Anthropology Degree, Swarthmore college; Medical Degree, Penn State College of Medicine

Age: 44

Community organizations: American Cancer Society, National Kidney Foundation

Josh Green, State Sen. District 3 candidate, 2014

Josh Green

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

I believe our people deserve someone who will fight for them, someone who is immune from the influence of special interests, and who has expertise and training in a disciple (medicine in my case) that can improve the quality of life for those who live in our state. I am passionate about providing quality health care for all and committed to protecting the environment from toxins. People know me to be very independent and hard working so I am capable of working toward solutions rather than perpetuating the status quo.

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 have not committed enough resources annually to shore up our unfunded liabilities. We need to do this, which in turn improves our state’s fiscal reputation and bond ratings. This will keep us in a growth position going forward and ensure that we can live up to our commitments for those who have earned benefits.

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?

I propose we use decommissioned facilities such as schools that are being phased out to provide basic housing for families. We must also provide mental health care for our homeless population who need it to break the cycle of chronic homelessness. Job training for those in these facilities will also be important. Many homeless also need drug treatment options.

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 GMO labeling and have been the principal sponsor of this measure. I passed it through my committee (health) and will keep pushing for transparency. This is a health issue and a matter of people’s right to know what they put in their bodies.

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?

Public transportation should be maximized and there should not be GET on health care services or food. In addition to this, people should be eligible for workforce housing as we build major new developments in Hawaii. Most importantly we need to make it possible for everyone to get a higher degree or a trade skill to enable them to get or create a high paying job.

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?

We should max solar first. I support the use of geothermal energy next as a source for stable energy. This will decrease costs by more than 10 cents per KWH.

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.

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

I think we need to pay teachers better, especially those who continue to enhance their skills with added training. This will help with retention. I think the average class should be smaller and that the public schools should have the flexibility to add hours and days if their team chooses to, with extra resources being made available for such programs and those who provide them.

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?

Smart growth with complementary infrastructure is important but there must be actual affordable housing tied to these large projects. Developers who make many millions must be required to balance their benefit with middle class facilities.

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

We must reform the state hospital system to make it sustainable and we should continue to work toward universal health care coverage in Hawaii. I feel strongly that we need to make drug and alcohol addiction treatment options a priority in Hawaii and that there needs to be an overhaul of our mental health care system (the Hawaii State Hospital requires expansion and reform). Environmental health issues should be prioritized in the coming years, including a new focus on environmental toxins and their impact on our people.