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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 Nicola Perez-Garreaud, a Democratic candidate for state House District 22, which includes Waikīki and Ala Moana. There are three other candidates, including his Democratic primary opponents, Tom Brower and Dennis Miller, and Republican Kathryn Henski.
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?
There is a deep-rooted feeling that politicians are distant from the lives and issues of their constituents. One concern that we should keep in mind is that a majority of incumbents face no opposition when it comes time to campaign for re-election. I support the movement to limit political terms because it’s the only clear answer in keeping fresh ideas and ideologies flowing throughout government.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
We have been taught in school that democracy is the best system of government. The “popular initiative” is a form of direct democracy. Government should be in support of such a process because it encourages the public to take action. I support the process because it directly gives power to anyone in the community, not just those in elected office.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
It should only change if the goals and values of Hawaii change.
4. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
We need to overturn the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision.
5. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes, any labor related fees when it comes to access to public records should be eliminated.
6. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I don’t believe that elected officials don’t listen to voters, but that they are too comfortable to make any significant change happen. What the public is crying out for is motivated leaders that will rally up votes at the capital for the issues and concerns they have on a regular day to day bases.
7. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
While we are directly faced with the issue of homelessness, the environment is taking on tremendous pressure from our over-use of the planet. The coral reefs, which are precious and unique to Hawaii, have been on decline for the past 150 years. Now more then ever with the slow but sure warming of our oceans, coral bleaching has become an epidemic. With other factors affecting life in the coral ecosystems like over-fishing, pollution and chemical run-offs, the reefs do not stand a chance to survive. The state needs to ask the federal government for more funding to protect our ecosystems because without more funding and tighter regulation of our oceans our economy will be affected.
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?
Environmental protection is at the forefront of my platform. Sustainable development should be the ethical guideline if new development is proposed. The development I support is focused on affordable housing projects for the people that call Hawaii home.
9. What should the Legislature do to improve police accountability?
10. Hawaii is the fastest-aging state. What would you do to ensure we’re taking care of our kupuna?
Within the next 20 years one-third of Hawaii’s populations will be over the age of 60. We need to make it easier for our seniors to stay in their own home. Secondly, we need to look into funding to make nursing care services much more affordable for our kupuna.
11. What would you do to improve Hawaii’s public education system?
Our public education system is suffering because our teachers are not feeling taken care of. Legislatures need to push legislation to adjust our educators’ pay to the cost of living in Hawaii.
Secondly, we need to incorporate a new mission for our public schools. Students and educators need to have fun, educate and pursue life-long learning. What I notice while in the public school system is that a significant number of my peers were constantly stressed. School should not be about stress, but about having fun and learning.
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