Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Howard Kim, one of 10 candidates for the 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu. The other candidates include Colleen HanabusaJavier Ocasio, Lei Ahu Isa, Sam Puletasi, Lei Sharsh-Davis and Steve Tataii, Republican Shirlene Ostrov, Libertarian Alan Yim and nonpartisan candidate Calvin Griffen.

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

Howard Kom

Howard Kom

Name: Howard Kim

Office seeking: 1st Congressional District

Occupation: Retired from Honolul Police Deparment, musician, real estate developer

Place of residence: Honolulu

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?

I was taught  that humanity needs three things for basic survival: Water, food and shelter. How our government is being run is very disappointing to me. We don’t have the skills, the knowledge, or the mindset to make Hawaii a better place. Everything else but these issues are addressed and litigated. I think we have too many attorneys as our Hawaii’s politicians, and as you may or may not know, attorneys are trained to litigate. Basic knowledge tells us that water, food and housing should be our priorities, but we lack even that common-sense! It seems that everything else is being addressed.

How can we ensure the future of Hawaii and for America if we keep exporting water out of our state, especially to foreign countries?  Or what about our food supply? I believe we are exporting all our precious commodities and shipping them away because we get more money doing so. Why does it cost more to buy a locally grown mango than it is to buy an imported one? This goes for oranges and lychee too?  I’m not for exporting all our locally grown foods out of state, I’m for conserving our resources here in Hawaii, for our own people to eat and consume.

2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Doing so is a test of our politicians’ integrities, and clearly an attack and intrusion on our American Constitution, in attempts to push upon us one’s own religious beliefs and book into a national text using one’s political status.

 I believe that we should have a Statewide Citizen’s initiative process. It’s simple, just take the initiative, take action, find a mentor, and stand for something. Most people I know stand for nothing, they just follow the trends. But now, we have to seriously take a stand. I respect those that actually stand up. That makes them very American because they are exercising their freedoms. To stand as an individual takes bravery, self-confidence, and courage, unlike what our culture has become, which frowns upon us from taking a stand and speaking out. I believe that we have hurt ourselves to the point that if we take a stand, we will be judged and portrayed as shameful, and that is far from the truth.

3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?

Yes, it should change. Just because the Democratic Party has dominated our political system doesn’t mean it’s effective. We need to stop playing follow the leader, because we are going down the wrong path! Do you see things getting better?.

If we were to learn how to become self-sufficient, 100 percent energy-efficient, then we wouldn’t rely so heavily on a limited foreign supply of oil. To tell someone to take the bus or to car-pool can be very lifestyle inhibiting. But nothing is more life-style inhibiting than suffering the loss of our loved ones in war. Let us not forget Fukushima, and global climate change, which is taking our lives as we speak.This is a result of our dependence on foreign oil.

For example, 1,000 air-conditioners to cool down our classrooms, is not the only solution or answer. We need to find other alternatives to address these kinds of problems.  As a teacher, and from past experiences, I’ve seen classrooms using air-conditioners when all they have to do is open the windows and let the trade winds blow the ambient heat out. In this situation, air-conditioners would thus be inefficient and ineffective.  There are many inefficiencies that require a change in the way we think.

4. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?

I agree, elected officials probably don’t listen to them.  Because our government is run by unethical, un-educated politicians who don’t have the answer, and by political candidates trying to raise the most money.  We are saying that religion doesn’t matter, so If we’re going to say that karma is the way of the earth, and that we will be reincarnated into a higher form of living if we do good deeds, then that’s all that matters.  Just continue to do good deeds for our immediate family and friends, push religion onto us, try to change our constitution to expand their religious beliefs, do what one is paid to do as a puppet by campaign donors, then there is no reason to listen to voters, we are only listening as puppets to those that paid us the most or contributed to our campaign, and to do their own private agenda. I would improve communication by simply staffing professional communicators and listeners, simple as that.

I’m proud to say, that I paid for my own campaign 100 percent. So I don’t have to be politically correct, I don’t have to worry about offending any campaign donors. I stick and abide as much as I can by Christian values.

5. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?

The most pressing issue that my district faces is housing, water and food. Again, those are the three things we need for survival. I will also identify global climate change as very evident, crucial and critical. Right now, I’m in survival mode, fighting for our lives, every day,  I think, and I don’t take for granted, my life, I ask how do I stay healthy? How do I stay safe? We need to make sure our water  is safe, clean and available. We need to make sure that we can sustain and grow our island’s food supply, and we need to make sure that we all have available decent affordable housing. 

I also will add that we need to be energy efficient. I would focus on being 100 percent energy renewable, and this includes, water, solar, wind and hydro-power. Being that we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we import 90 percent of our food. We need to change that, and we’ll change that by sustaining and promoting Hawaii’s agriculture. We should be eating locally, this way we will lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and imports.

6. What should America’s role in the world be? What would you do to move us in that direction?

We used to be “America the great!” We used to be the powerhouse, the leader, people respected us, and we were great. But lately, I wonder and ask myself, what has happened to America? Why are we so heavily dependent on foreign oil and imports? Why are we always at war? What has happened to our finances? Why are we so disabled? Why did we lose our jobs, and why are we being outsmarted? Because we need to change our lifestyle, our way of thinking and our dependence on oil and foreign imports.

I’ve traveled overseas to various places. Americans live in luxury. We can go to McDonald’s anytime, get a $1 burger and fries. But these kinds of luxuries are not always healthy for us. Just because I can get a $1 burger, doesn’t mean I’m going to eat it. Just because I can drive a big gas guzzler, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to do that. Just because I can jump on an airplane and fly, doesn’t mean I want to do that. Sometimes, we need to appreciate in life the things that are free, and the things that don’t cost much.

7. The country is torn apart. What would you do to rebuild bridges?

We need to learn the basics, food, water and housing. If we focus on these three things, we will be a better, happier place. So much of our everyday activities revolve around working, just so that we can put food on the dinner table. My day revolves around eating healthy. We need to stick with the basics, use common sense, start doing what makes sense, and stop litigating everything. Take the Honolulu rail project. Does it make sense? No, it doesn’t. Let’s talk about it, let’s use our common sense, and stick with the basics.