- Special Projects
Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Sam Puletasi, one of 10 candidates for the 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu.The other candidates include Colleen Hanabusa, Javier Ocasio, Lei Ahu Isa, Howard Kim, Lei Sharsh-Davis and Steve Tataii, Republican Shirlene Ostrov, Libertarian Alan Yim and nonpartisan candidate Calvin Griffen.
Name: Sam Puletasi
Office seeking: 1st Congressional District
Community organizations/prior offices held: Neighborhood Board member; Hawaii State Medical Board, public member; Filipino United Urdaneta & Association Club of Hawaii; League of Women’s Voters of Hawaii; Civil Air Patrol former vice president; Hawaii Surf Riders Foundation cleanup projects; Hawaii Food Bank; USA Rugby Association
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 54
Place of residence: Ewa Beach
Campaign website: https://www.facebook.com/sam.
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’m one of them. Unless we overturn Citizens United, reform campaign financing, and limit the influence of lobbyists and special interests, we will continue to see representatives who are more beholden to Big Money and less to the voters.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I believe the Legislature should represent and reflect the will of the people and that the majority of issues can be addressed through the Legislature. The major problem with citizen’s initiatives is that some issues that pertain to civil rights and equal protection should not be decided by popular vote. Those issues should be determined by our courts in accordance with the constitution.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
I am a progressive and I think that, because the party has dominated the state for so long, a lot of conservatives have just decided to join the party and pursue their agenda from within. This has diluted the values and principles of the party. I believe we can maintain a “big tent” approach without sacrificing the progressive values the party is predicated on. This will also offer a clear contrast for voters vis-a-vis the Republican Party.
4. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I don’t believe communication is a problem in this age of the internet. There are a multitude of platforms to engage in communication. The real problem is when elected officials become more responsive to special/moneyed interests and less responsive to their constituents.
5. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your state or district? What will you do about it?
Homelessness. I see homelessness as a symptom of a larger systemic problem as opposed to an isolated issue. We need more affordable housing and limits on gentrification. We also need to address the growing income disparity that exists in our nation by reforming the tax laws, improving the quality of K-12 education and affordability of higher education, and creating jobs through the repair and upgrade of our infrastructure.
6. What should America’s role in the world be? What would you do to move us in that direction?
The president is largely responsible for foreign policy. I don’t believe our foreign policy should be dictated by corporate interests. As a world superpower, I believe we have a responsibility to take moral high ground, to not stray from the ideal of being that “shining city on the hill” and I will cast my vote accordingly.
7. The country is torn apart. What would you do to rebuild bridges?
I believe the neglect of our infrastructure is an absolute travesty. It will be one of my top priorities if elected.