Community Organizations/ Prior Offices Held: Hawaii House of Representatives, 1970-1978 (Waikiki, Moiliili, McCully); Hawaii State Senate, 1980 (Nuuanu to Diamond Head); former Hawaii Republican Party chairman; board of directors, YMCA; Hawaii Epilepsy Society, board of directors; Wahine O Ke Kai, attorney; Save Our Surf; Life of the Land; Hawaii Rifle Association; Waipio Taro Farmers
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 or Senate is run?
As a freshman U.S. senator, no special interest would have any control over my vote. I believe that those who have obligations to lobbyists should not even be in office. I believe that the large super-PACs should be abolished because the amount of undue influence that large corporations have, especially during election years, is criminal.
I have been able as a former state legislator to work with Democrats and I will do the same in the U.S. Senate. My duty as U.S. senator would be to speak and vote on behalf of my constituents — those who voted me into office — in Washington.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
Yes, I do support this process. When I was a state House member, every two years while in office I introduced bills that called for initiative, referendum and recall.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
Yes, it absolutely it should change. The current condition of Hawaii’s economy, infrastructure, agriculture, unnecessary high cost of living, desirability of doing business and expenditures for governmental progress such as the rail, are all things which need to be examined and/or changed by electing leaders with more fiscally conservative ideals.
Furthermore, true democracy cannot be realized when there will always be a single party in a bipartisan system that has the overwhelming majority. Every constituent regardless of party affiliation deserves to be heard, but that opportunity is often ignored in our state as a result of the overwhelming influence asserted by the Democratic establishment.
4. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
As an attorney, a military veteran, and a former legislator I understand the importance of communication, and the value of listening and having an open dialogue. As U.S. senator I intend to offer an open line of communication to my constituents, and will be available for discussions or to hear concerns. The internet and social media make this extraordinarily plausible, and in 2016 there should be no excuse for our citizens to feel that they are not being heard. There are many things that can be done at the state and federal level if the leaders elected to office understand how to leverage their positions positively and effectively to influence change on behalf of the citizens of their state. I have experience doing this, and I will take that experience to Washington.
As a U.S. senator I will also be available physically to the maximum extent possible, both in Hawaii and in Washington. When I was in the Legislature we went out into the community with motivated citizens to effect change. We worked with charities and community organizations to feed the poor, visited those who are sick, attended town hall meetings and neighborhood boards. As a U.S. senator we will do this together.
5. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Hawaii? What will you do about it?
The most pressing issue facing our state is the exorbitantly high cost of living and the cost of doing business. Nearly everything we use and need in Hawaii must be shipped in, and a federal law known as the Jones Act only makes the situation worse.
The first thing that I will do in the U.S. Senate is propose that the Jones Act provisions — which have been in place since 1920 — be eliminated completely for the health and welfare for the people of Hawaii. Those provisions are that a ship be built, owned, manned, maintained and flagged in America, by Americans.If a ship does not meet these requirements, it cannot be utilized for interstate commerce. American territories and states not connected to the U.S. mainland are hardest hit by this law. What is going currently in Puerto Rico is a prime example.
The taxes associated with the Jones Act inflate our cost of living, and exacerbate other key issues like homelessness and unemployment. Eliminating the Jones Act could possibly make Hawaii the best place in the union to live, thereby elevating our economic viability with respect to jobs, agriculture, business climate and cost of living.
6. What should America’s role in the world be? What would you do to move us in that direction?
America should be a leader in international commerce. This can only be achieved by creating a climate in the United States where doing business here makes better sense than doing business elsewhere. Eliminating restrictions such as the Jones Act, and the burdens of excessive regulation and taxation will be at the top of my list of to make this possible.
We are one of the most powerful militarized nations in the history of the world, and the use of that power should be utilized to ensure that we have a stable, international peace. At present, international terror continues to impact our allies, and each day the threat of its impact on our country and its citizens looms. I lived through the Korean and Vietnam wars. I have seen the tragic losses of American life. My role in the U.S. Senate would be to ensure that there is no deployment of U.S. ground forces anywhere in the world on the basis of the needs of special interests. While I am in complete favor of the use of air power in support of allies worldwide, our troops, our country and our citizens deserve to know that their interest is our first priority.
7. The country is torn apart. What would you do to rebuild bridges?
I don’t think the bridge has ever been built.
Since before the days of the Cold War and of Dr. Martin Luther King, the “bridge” has been under constant construction (much like our city’s roads), and it is far from nearing completion.
As a U.S. Senator I will do everything possible to bring to Washington the values of aloha (love), laulima (cooperation), ho’ihi (respect), and kuleana (responsibility and accountability). Values that have guided my long career as an attorney, politician, pilot and businessman, and values that got me re-elected to state office.
As a U.S. senator I would vote for and propose inclusive legislation that will ensure the evils of racism, intolerance and bigotry never have a place in America again.As a U.S. senator I would welcome my constituents to voice their concerns and to offer their suggestions for improving a government and a society that in many ways has failed them. But, most importantly, as a U.S. senator, I would work every day in Washington to build that bridge between two parties who fundamentally want the same thing: A better America. Our country may be torn apart — often down party lines — but it is not too late to start working together.
REPORTING ON HAWAII’S BIGGEST ISSUES
A good reason not to give
We know not everyone can afford to pay for news right now, which is why we keep our journalism free for everyone to read, listen, watch and share.
But that promise wouldn’t be possible without support from loyal readers like you.
Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.