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

The following came from LuAnn Poti, a Republican candidate for state representative for District 35. Democrat Roy Takumi, who did not respond to the questionnaire, is also running.

District 35 covers Pearl City, Manana, Waipio, Waikele and Waipahu.

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

Name: LuAnn Poti

Office: House of Representatives, District 35

Party: Republican

Profession: Primarily worked in tourism, but most recently for a credit union

Education: Bachelors of Business Administration – Management

Age: 29

Community organizations: Ongoing pastoral administration for our church; participant and past organizer of Relay for Life event; participant with Lanakila Meals on Wheels; participant with Lion’s Club community events; participant for PTO projects.

LuAnn Poti, House District 35 candidate, 2014

LuAnn Poti

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

More and more in recent events, what the people cry out for is not how elected officials govern. If we do not want more of the same, we cannot wait another moment to elect change.

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 to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities. If we continue to use money that was marked for public worker pension and health obligations, we will have the same problem the national government has with Social Security. Instead of labeling it unfunded liabilities, we should consider it debt — the money may technically be sitting in state accounts, but it was already promised, marked and owed to something and someone. That should not be considered available funds. If private citizens do that with their bank accounts they get hit with a fees.

There are only a few options to re-fund the accounts — the only fair option is that the entity responsible for reallocating the money (elected officials) to balance state and county budgets be charged with putting it back. Meaning, when there are budget surpluses, instead of looking for new programs to start, money should be put back into the fund. Similar in concept to what a responsible private citizen does. When they know there is a debt looming and receive a windfall they prioritize their most important bills before fun new gadgets.

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?

With Hawaii’s high housing costs, high overall cost of living, and being one of the worst states to make a living, is it any wonder that we have a homeless crisis? I am excited to see the city’s implementation of Housing First. The state needs to support the city as well as non-profits who are already looking at the comprehensive needs of different homeless sub-populations (veterans, mentally disturbed, formerly incarcerated, families, drug addicted, working homeless, etc) and serving them. It will take an all-hands, all-in approach if the people of Hawaii are truly committed to solving this.

One specific proposal I have is the renovating of public housing projects to include micro-apartments. This is not for every person, or every season of life, but having more available units for housing will alleviate pressure on the rest of the market.

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

Much like we require ingredients and nutritional values to be disclosed, I support labeling genetically engineered (GE) foods. This will allow consumers to make their own decisions on the food they feed their families. The labeling does not have to add costs to the packaging of such products. The disclosure could be added near the ingredient list of prepared foods, or near the label of where the food was grown for produce. Genetically engineered foods are not poisonous after a few servings, but that does not mean there may not be long-term health ramifications. It is harder and more time consuming to do a scientific study on the long term effects of GE food on humans, but studies on animals have shown negative health effects from such a diet. Until it can be proven that GE foods are safe for human consumption over a long term, we should be cautious and at the very least ensure they are labeled so that consumers can make informed choices.

I also support allowing each county to determine its pesticide regulations. Pesticides are a very powerful tool designed to destroy. The oversight should be regulated by the communities, who will be most impacted by the usage. We have to remember that Hawaii can have three to four growing seasons in a year (depending on the crop), meaning three to four times the application of pesticides that would be used in the mainland. Also, Hawaii agriculture land is very close to living and working space. This is unlike the mainland, where there are larger buffer zones between the areas. Mainland research is helpful, but Hawaii is a unique place and we need to investigate what pesticides will do in our state before we declare that concerns are unmerited.

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?

Paying someone else for something is normally more expensive than doing it yourself. The more we can sustain ourselves, from food to energy to building supplies, the better for us.

Agricultural lands need to be preserved. Family gardens and co-op farming can give individual households the chance to supplement their food needs, and potentially their income, if they grow a surplus.

The utility companies must reorganize themselves to support dependence on alternative energy, locally generated by both individual households and large scale systems.

Certain supplies, like bamboo and some hardwood woods can be grown in Hawaii. I would also look into the possibility of Hawaii having our own recycling center that can handle materials like chipboard or glossy paper. If we could process it ourselves, we would not have to ship it away or burn it.

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? 

Liquified natural gas (LNG) is not a permanent solution because we would still be dependent on imported fuel. There are also costs associated with retrofitting infrastructure to receive and process this fuel. LNG might be good, but energy independence is best; therefore I do not support LNG. Because solar is used so much more than any other alternative energy source in Hawaii it is an issue for utility companies to have to make adjustments to increase their production of power when the sun is blocked. Increasing variety of sources (wind, wave energy, geothermal) will level the stream of supply. When you research homes that are completely off the grid, they combine PV panels, small windmills attached to their homes, energy efficient fixtures and appliances, as well as basic energy conservation habits for living. All of these sources are free, we just need to share the costs of infrastructure (unlike the current model of paying for the fuel AND the infrastructure).

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?

The state must have the ability to charge search and redaction fees, copying, postage and card processing fees to cover the ACTUAL expenses of providing records to individuals. However, I believe the state has overestimated costs associated with this service. For example, at this time, a copy of a birth certificate is $10 even if it is found on initial search. A second copy ordered at the same time is an additional $4. Even considering that certified copies are on special paper, are stamped and signed for certification, I cannot see how this justifies $4 per additional copy.

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

Because I believe the children of Hawaii can lead the nation in being prepared excellently for the marketplace, I support focusing on the unique needs of each to flourish. To do this, the front-line of education, teachers, need to be foremost focused on teaching students — some time needs to be spent on professional development and involving parents. Teachers should not spend more time reporting to us what they are doing than actually doing it. Schools should focus on time-tested academic curriculum and vocational training, which are unequivocally true and necessary. Mainland influenced curriculum such as Common Core and Pono Choices are ill-fitting in our unique Hawaii. Not all schools have the necessary infrastructure, such as sufficient computers to satisfy Common Core needs, let alone the diverse student body in our schools that learn differently. If we know that every teacher has their own strengths and every child is unique, why are we trying to implement a rigidly defined teaching style for a uniformed student?

Keeping the system state-wide allows the public schools to pool resources. However, principals should be given more decision making power in budget setting and capital improvement spending — they know best if air conditioning is the most urgent improvement necessary at their school.

Further, I support Access Learning and would seek private sponsorship for shortcoming in state budgeting. I support creating magnet schools and vocational training programs that generate increasing amounts of income to build towards sufficiency.

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? 

Instead of building out, Hawaii can build up, renovate and redevelop underutilized properties.