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

The following came from Chris Lethem, Republican candidate for state senator for District 12. Democrat Brickwood Galuteria, who did not respond to the questionnaire, is also running.

District 12 covers Kakaako, Ala Moana, Waikiki, McCully and Moiliili.

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

Name: Chris Lethem

Office: State Senate District 12

Party: Republican

Profession: Software architect

Education: Kapiolani Community College; Honolulu Community College; Hawaii Pacific University; University of Maryland; Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City.

Age: 53

Community organizations: Hawaii Chair, National Parents Organization and founding member of Family Court Interventions Legislative Task Force.

Chris Lethem, State Senate District 12 candidate, 2014

Chris Lethem

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

This district is currently unrepresented in the Senate. Frankly, the incumbent senator  does not see eye to eye with the people of this community. Chronic homelessness has reached a dismal high, up 47 percent in the last three years. The senator prefers working for luxury condo developers and OHA rather than the people of Waikiki, Kaka’ako, Moiliili, and McCully. This election is about the community taking back their voice. I will be in the district listening, working for the community, and carrying issues forward to achieve real results.

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’ve begun to tackle the liabilities, but there is still much to be done. We need to spur economic growth by ensuring there are jobs for our children after graduation. This begins with bringing technology into schools and supporting the UH system. I support providing incentives to high-tech forward-thinking businesses, reducing burdens on small business, and leveraging technology by wiring Honolulu. It is crucial that we explore preventative health care opportunities and focus on developing  preventative care guidelines. With regard to our unfunded pension liabilities, we should be looking at the underlying investment strategies to ensure that we are achieving optimal risk/return objectives and adjust our funding based upon life longevity assumptions consistent with realized life expectancies of our local population.

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 has been a problem in Honolulu for over 25 years. People are tired of promises and so-called plans. It is far less expensive to administer supportive services to sheltered individuals than it is to provide services to those living on the street. We need to build micro housing ($125,000 per unit) accompanied by existing supportive services.

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

The state must regulate pesticides carefully and well. GMO labeling has to come at the federal level.

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 state runs Kaka’ako, but has utterly failed to urge developers toward building truly affordable housing, even when affordable housing is required by law. Luxury condo developers must be forced to make 20 percent of their units truly affordable. We must also ensure that rampant development does not over-run current affordable housing in Waikiki and surrounding areas.

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 importing LNG into Hawaii, and helping the utilities do so.  HECO is fighting instead of fully supporting home use of solar power.  We must facilitate solar power users in selling their excess power back to the grid or storing locally for later use.

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.  Absolutely. Copying costs should also be reasonable and affordable for all.

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

We need to give teachers and principles power over budgetary discretion and teaching methods. It is also vital that we bring technology into schools. I also support liberalizing district exceptions for families seeking to shift schools and I fully support charter schools.

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?

Tourism is our number one industry. Despoiling the environment threatens tourism. We must be on guard against opportunistic development, fiercely protect our limited resources, and focus on long-term sustainability. Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono.

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

Transparency and full disclosure are what give citizens confidence in their government. The price of our representatives working behind closed doors for special interests instead of their constituents, is the cost of our faith in the integrity of our government. How should we feel about our representatives when they promote special interest agendas at our expense? Being a public servant is about enriching the lives of our constituents, not enriching ourselves or our friends at the expense of our constituents.