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

The following came from Ken Ito, a Democratic candidate for state House of Representatives District 49, which serves Kaneohe, Maunawili and Olomana. There is one other candidate, Democrat Patrick Shea.

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

Ken Ito

Ken Ito

Name: Ken Ito

Office seeking:  House of Representatives, 49th District

Occupation: Legislator

Community organizations/prior offices held: Civil Air Patrol, major; Ehime-Hawaii Goodwill Youth Baseball Tournament Committee, member; Hawaii Youth Baseball Exchange Committee, member; Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce; Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; Kaneohe Senior Hui; Koolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, member; Soto Mission of Hawaii, board member; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Windward Post 10154; Windward Oahu Jaycees Extension, honorary chair

Place of residence: Kaneohe

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? 

Promote the usage of technology in the legislative process to allow more open dialogue amongst the public. Through the usage of technology, it will allow the policymakers to have a clearer understanding of the public’s issues and concerns. 

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

I support citizen’s initiative processes except for on land use issues.

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

The Democratic Party has always been evolving, changing with the times and addressing issues that affect working people and issues that affect our state and nation.    

4. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?

Create a task force to analyze lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws and have them make recommendations. 

5. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?

Yes.

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

Currently, we communicate with our constituents through various venues, including, email, telephone, community meetings, neighborhood board meetings and informational briefings and hearings. The constituents are always welcomed to communicate and it’s in my best interest when they do so that I am apprised of their particular concerns. 

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

Crime and homelessness are top priorities. We are currently meeting with stakeholders to work together to minimize crime and homelessness in the district. We are meeting with key organizations including law enforcement, higher education officials and community organizations.

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?

Each situation calls for different solutions. I support growing the economy but with a strict eye on our limited resources and would balance it based on the recommendations from those agencies, federal, state and county, that are tasked with the responsibilities of economic development and protection of our environment. 

9. What should the Legislature do to improve police accountability?

Empowering the police commission to hold them accountable would be the first step.  Ask the police commission for recommendations for further dialogue on the issue. 

10. Hawaii is the fastest-aging state. What would you do to ensure we’re taking care of our kupuna?

Hawaii’s culture and aloha spirit makes a difference in how we take care of our kupuna. Continue to put kupuna care as a top priority in legislative initiatives. 

11. What would you do to improve Hawaii’s public education system?

We need to support our teachers by letting them teach and provide modern facilities to teach in.  Provide financial incentives for professional development and a salary schedule that has an incremental increase in pay. We need educational leadership that motivates and inspires the teachers to be the best they can be.