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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Javier Ocasio, one of 10 candidates for the 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu. The other candidates include Colleen Hanabusa, Lei Ahu Isa, Howard Kim, Sam Puletasi, Lei Sharsh-Davis and Steve Tataii, Republican Shirlene Ostrov, Libertarian Alan Yim and nonpartisan candidate Calvin Griffen.
Name: Javier Ocasio
Office seeking: 1st Congressional District
Occupation: Campaigning full time
Community organizations/prior offices held: None
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 38
Place of residence: Honolulu
Campaign website: www.votejavi.com
1. This year has seen an outsized influence from people who want big changes in how government is run. What would you do to change how the U.S. House is run?
Creating an example is a start. Since we are all tired of the lies and corruption, a great way to change how it is run would be to have some integrity and to call out the lies, greed, and corruption on the spot, when they occur, with tact, every time.
Next I would practice and preach the reality of our current scenario on Earth: Climate change is affecting everything, the world has more people than it can sustain over the long term unless we change our ways, there are more people than there are jobs and the age of secrecy needs to end. With that daily practice it just might influence how things are run.
I would also propose a clean bill act limiting all bills proposed to one subject at a time. Finally, I’d work together with other legislators and groups to ensure that more progressive bills can pass rather than always drafting my own legislation even when there are others proposing the same things.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I absolutely support a citizens initiative process. It is a valuable tool in order for the people’s will to be done when our elected officials are corrupt, have deaf ears or are in the minority for progress. Not to mention we won’t know how effective such a process will be unless we try one here.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
What matters most is the protection, regeneration and care of the environment and the uplifting and empowerment of the people. To that end if the Democratic Party wishes to stay on the cusp of growth and progress (and thereby dominant) it should begin to ally with other parties that share similar interests in order to better represent the people.
One single party will not always have the best candidates, nor can one party completely represent all of the people. As a result, in the interest of the greater good, alliances should be forged with other groups or parties so the best candidates for the Earth and the people may be put forth. That is how I believe it should change.
4. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Inclusion always helps. Technology has evolved to the point where it is easier than ever now to include your voters in the decision process through feedback in real time. Not to mention holding oneself accountable to them is the most underrated and least used part of communication.
Not all voters will agree with a decision or certain course of action an elected official takes. But as an elected official, taking the time to address the whys or why nots to your voters is our responsibility. They are owed that at the very least. In the end, though, to improve communications I would use technology.
5. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your state or district? What will you do about it?
Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. The populace needs to know how climate change is eroding our land, changing weather, creating more and more powerful storms, affecting water, our energy consumption, foreign policy, the economy, your property, the homeless, our air quality and our food.
The 1st Congressional District has a high population in a relatively small area. We grow little of our own food. We import most of our energy. Not everyone is housed. The cost of living keeps going up. We are one natural disaster from a level of chaos and suffering unlike anything Hawaii has ever seen and the poor, the homeless, and the poorly housed will pay the greatest price.
This demands that we take steps to address all of these issues in order to be prepared. As your representative I’d push to get Congress to finally acknowledge that climate change is the greatest issue of our time. The Republican-run Congress denial of what is observably so is the biggest hurdle that needs to be overcome if we are to actively engage and do something about climate change while there is still time.
6. What should America’s role in the world be? What would you do to move us in that direction?
We should be a beacon of light in the world not a beacon of prisons and war. Wise mentors and teachers don’t go about trying to convince everyone that they are what they are. They merely live, teach, set the example and empower others to either do the same or find their own path.
The United States’ current self-imposed role as the world’s police and bringer of democracy to other countries by carrying the biggest stick is not working. Our role should be to set the example of how a nation can build, how a nation can take care of and provide for its people, and of how a nation can support and help empower the nations around it.
To move us in that direction I would encourage a shift in spending and priorities. Less for weapons of war and more for health care and infrastructure. Less in prisons and militarization of police and more in schools, jobs, education and rehabilitation facilities. I would end subsidies for the big corporations and give them to small businesses. I would fight to increase taxes on the rich, close loopholes, rein in Wall Street and either end or redo all free trade agreements.
7. The country is torn apart. What would you do to rebuild bridges?
I would first find where there are bridges to be rebuilt. Those key first new bridges are necessary to show progress and inspire hope. Some bridges are not worth rebuilding, new paths must be forged and finding the right people to be at the front of those endeavors is critical.
I would also try new things with new people. For example, historically men have been at the forefront of war and destruction. In order to achieve what we want and need with rebuilding and reunification, it is necessary to do something we have never done. So, I would seek strong female leaders to rebuild and reunify the nation. I would also ensure that they were in charge and the majority. Often those most reluctant to accept any leadership role are the most worthy. Female leaders of that type along with new ideas would work well.
Lastly I would practice compassion. Not the type of compassion we are used to, but the type that carefully sees what others need and then giving it to them without the need for payback or reciprocation.