Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Republican Shirlene Ostrove, one of three candidates for the 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu. The other candidates include Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, and Libertarian Alan Yim.
Name: Shirlene DelaCruz Santiago Ostrov
Office seeking: 1st Congressional District
Occupation: Small Business Owner, retired U.S. Air Force colonel
Community organizations/prior offices held: Co-founder and board chair, Halau Nohona Hawaii; board member, Honolulu Crimestoppers; board member, Women’s Mentoring Network
Place of residence: Mililani
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’ve spent years on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., serving as a congressional liaison for the armed forces. The one thing I noted is the self-serving nature of how some politicians choose to govern. That needs to change and I believe the people don’t want the status quo — they want to be represented! There needs to be changes in campaign spending laws; money shouldn’t buy access or favorable regulatory outcomes. I think we should give power back to the people: limited campaign cycles, reduced advantages for incumbents and nonpartisan redistricting is a start.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I absolutely support a citizen’s initiative process because I believe putting lawmaking power in the hands of the people is a great idea. The initiative process was designed to make politicians more responsive to voter needs, and to help voters to get around politicians when they are not responsive. Especially in a state dominated by a single political party, this is very important!
I know that in many other states, the initiative process has long been the focus of civic debate, study and proposed reform. Many believe that everyday people are not equipped to handle the challenges of complex matters of public policy. I disagree. I believe that citizens should be allowed to exercise political power by overriding government officials, including legislators and judges, when their decisions stray too far from the popular will.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
This should change! We need to explain to the people of Hawaii that there are alternatives to the same tired status quo. I will continue to remind the voters that the Democrats have had a monopoly since Hawaii became a state, and we still have many problems unsolved. We have to be mindful that the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives is the Republican Party and Hawaii doesn’t have a voice there. The people of Hawaii need a balanced delegation so their voices can be heard on the national level. Right now they don’t have a seat at the table.
4. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I would go out and encourage people to vote — that is they way their voices are heard. I am not a career politician, so I believe the elected official works for the people. The minute they forget that, they need to be replaced! I have spent my entire life serving my nation, therefore I know how to put service before self. That is what is missing from today’s officials! I also believe that integrity should be the bedrock of service, therefore I would be very transparent and accessible. I would ensure the people I surround myself with share the same values and understand that the people who put me into office deserves my fullest attention at all times.
5. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
I believe the most pressing issue facing our district is the high cost of living. So many people find it difficult to really thrive in our state and we need to ensure that our future generations can build a comfortable life here in their island home if they choose to do so. We need to look at things like housing supply, high taxes that burden young entrepreneurs from starting small businesses, runaway state and federal spending, etc. Every wasted dollar that the government spends means higher taxes. We must rein in waste and make our government use its resources wisely.
6. What should America’s role in the world be? What would you do to move us in that direction?
America is a superpower and must continue to be a global leader. Many countries look to us for hope and guidance; our word and deed should be the example to follow. Our foreign policy needs to be strong and balanced between meeting the challenges of today’s reality while maintaining the ideals our nation was built upon. What’s needed to achieve such a balance is political will and strategic vision in meeting the three interrelated challenges of supporting freedom, defending the national security and restoring our nation’s economic health.
7. The country is torn apart. What would you do to rebuild bridges?
I read an interesting study recently that stated the Republicans and Democrats are farther apart ideologically than at any point in recent history. These ideological silos are evident in every part of our lives. Republicans and Democrats have a very unfavorable impression of the other party, the vast majority say the opposing party’s policies represent a threat to the nation’s well-being. I think we must begin by really working together to solve our nation’s problems. I don’t believe we need to give up our values to find consensus, and good governance is finding balance. I do believe finding consensus is tough work, but only through this effort can you can translate your ideology into substantive policies.