Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Anthony Higa, a Libertarian candidate for the state House, District 13, which includes Waialae-Kahala, Diamond Head, Kaimuki and Kapahulu. There are two other candidates, Democrat Bert Kobayashi and Republican Stephen Bischoff.
Name: Anthony Higa
Office seeking: State House of Representatives District 19
Occupation: Registered Nurse, Hawaii State Hospital
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 32
Place of residence: Kaimuki
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 Legislature is run?
The role of government, whether it’s the legislative, judicial or executive branch, is to protect the rights of individuals, not to run our lives. Reducing dependence on government should be at the root of how government is run.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
Simply put, no. That can lead down a dangerous path of “tyranny of the majority.” Our rights are inalienable, and we are not meant to agree on everything, just respect our differences to live in peace.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
Yes. More people should run for office in a different party to better provide more options. Term limits for the Legislature is also an option. Reduce pay and benefits of elected officials so they feel the burden of a high cost of living like everyone else.
4. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
If government wouldn’t have so much power in education, utilities, etc., then there would less of an incentive for lobbyists to seek government power. Legislators found guilty of violating ethics/laws should be fired and not get another penny from tax dollars.
5. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes. Taxpayers are already paying for it, lets not charge them any more money.
6. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Cut pay and benefits for elected officials, that way there is more incentive for legislators to communicate with their residents.
7. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
High cost of living. Lower property taxes, GE tax, state income tax and as many taxes as possible. Fight for an exemption from the Jones Act to lower the cost of shipping goods to and from Hawaii.
8. 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?
Let urban Oahu build up to reduce the need to build out. There will be a need to use some undeveloped land but the benefits of lowering housing costs in an already expensive markets far outweigh the risks. Simply put; Keep the country country, and keep town town.
9. What should the Legislature do to improve police accountability?
Wearing body cameras is one measure that can be taken. Another would be to abolish victim-less crimes. Finally, communities are better served when working with police rather than punishment to deter unwanted behavior. One example would be to find ways to reduce traffic rather than trying to fine people for speeding. Another example, instead of DUI checkpoints let’s collaborate with taxis/ride-sharing companies to help bring people home safely rather giving out tickets because safety should be the number one goal, not punishment.
10. Hawaii is the fastest-aging state. What would you do to ensure we’re taking care of our kupuna?
Reducing the cost of health care is one of the biggest ways to help and we can do that by opening the market to other health care providers outside of the state of Hawaii. Increasing the scope of nurse practitioners will welcome more health-care providers to the state. Tort reform can help current doctors lower their costs.
11. What would you do to improve Hawaii’s public education system?
One example would be for people to have an education savings account, this would allow parents to have the final decision on which school their child attends, rather than it be based on the location of their residence. Lower the teacher to student ratio. Pay increases should be based on the effectiveness of a teacher and performance of the student, not years of service. Increase the amount of public charter schools.