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

The following came from Eric Drake Weinert, a Libertarian candidate for state representative for District 1. Democrat Mark Nakashima, who did not respond to the questionnaire, is also running.

District 1 covers Hamakua, North and South Hilo on the Big Island.

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

Name: Eric Drake Weinert

Office: State Representative District 1

Party: Libertarian

Profession: Manager, Calavo Growers, Inc. Hawaii Operations

Education: BBA University of Wisconsin, Madison; passed CPA exam

Age: 61

Community organizations: Hawaii Papaya Industry Association

 

 Eric Drake Weinert

Eric Drake Weinert

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

It’s about growing community together. Our community was built on agriculture. The Hamakua Coast is some of the richest most fertile land on the planet blessed with sunshine, abundant rainfall and ideal tropical weather. Farmers for Eric is about revitalizing our lands to provide for today and tomorrow, food for our keiki, food for our kapuna. I envision a place of abundance, a place where folks grow healthy food, a safe place where our keiki get a quality education, a place where all residents are kind and civil to each other respecting our differences in culture, race and ideas.

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?

It is unwise to commit to liabilities that are not funded.

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? 

Homelessness is a major problem in Hawaii and I will work with all parties towards a solution. I prefer solutions like finding the homeless a place to garden, grow their own food, learn self reliant skills and regain pride. I am generally resistant to raising any taxes or fees. That said, housing solutions along with gardening education, if the right partnerships were in place, make sense. Involving all members of the community rather than relying exclusively on the government to fix this problem is the better approach.

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

My primary focus will be to encourage agriculture of all types, conventional, organic, natural farming, to increase self reliance and take advantage of natures abundance in District 1. More agriculture has a direct positive impact on our community by providing more fresh healthy food, more self reliance, more natural beauty and rural landscapes. All parties need to respect one another, engage in positive civil dialogue, listen and learn from one another.

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? 

Free markets determine the cost of living. Government has a role to play, like the suggestions for energy below that can make Hawaii more competitive.

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? 

Decoupling alternative energy prices from the cost of petroleum is a good start. On the Big Island, developing geothermal energy in an environmentally responsible way, as is done in Iceland, would reduce energy costs and make us more competitive.

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?

In today’s computerized age, there has to be a way to make each person’s public records available to them on line for free.

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

After agriculture, my secondary focus will be education. I am not a teacher, but as a life-long farmer, business person and having passed the CPA exam, I know we should be getting better results for our expenditure of $13,000 per student. (20 kids times $13K per student = $260,000 per small classroom.) Our focus should be on and for the students and to offer choices. I will listen to those in the profession to make more choices available. One thing we know: We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results.

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?

There is no future without protecting and cherishing our environment.