Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Jaci Agustin, a Republican candidate for the state House, District 34, which includes Pearl City, Waimalu and Pacific Palisades. There is one other candidate, Democrat Greg Takayami.
Name: Jaci Agustin
Office seeking: State House, District 34
Occupation: Full-time candidate
Community organizations/prior offices held: Pearl City Community Association Board of Directors, Pearl City Lions Club, Rotary Club of Pearl Ridge
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 33
Place of residence: Waimalu
Campaign website: jaciagustin.com
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?
In order to allow for new ideas from as many individuals in the state as possible, I believe that we should implement term limits with rules similar to that of the Honolulu City Council and the Honolulu mayor’s office. Furthermore, floor votes at the Legislature should be recorded with the representative’s name. This will allow for voters to know where their individual legislator stands on the issues throughout the law-making process.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
Hawaii should be represented with a vibrant multi-party system that allows for an open discussion of ideas and solutions for Hawaii’s people. One tool that will assist in this is the implementation of term limits in all races, and further transparency on votes by legislators throughout the law-making process.
4. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
Enforcement of the current rules that oversee lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure can only be done by appointing an experienced and politically independent director of the State Ethics Commission. Right now, there is too much involvement in enforcing laws due to political involvement. The director of the commission, as well as the appointees to that commission, should be empowered to adhere and carry out the highest standards of governmental ethics throughout the entire state government. We owe the people of Hawaii nothing less.
5. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes, any policy that would increase transparency on behalf of the public would have my support.
6. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
As the House District 34 representative, I will be creating a staffed district office, one day per week from June of each year until November. In doing so my constituents will have greater access to me, my office and services that I can assist them with. The closer we can bring government to the people the better we will be able to deliver service to them.
7. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Without question, traffic on Kamehameha Highway in District 34 is the most pressing daily issue that faces our residents. My campaign will be offer new solutions to old traffic problems and we look forward to introducing those new ideas via a press release shortly.
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?
We must look beyond the traditional markets that have led economic growth in the last 50 years – real estate development, tourism and the effect of the military presence in Hawaii. The state should institute a mix of attracting targeted industries and encouraging local small business, beyond just retail, to start and expand. Both of these approaches will encourage community building in a sustainable, proper way.
9. What should the Legislature do to improve police accountability?
Government certainly has an oversight role when it comes to police services throughout the state. We need to seek the very best and qualified individuals to be seated on the oversight board and then empower that board to provide dutiful oversight and due diligence that is free of political influence. The goal of this body should be to encourage the police departments in Hawaii to use best practices with the philosophy of always serving and protecting our communities.
10. Hawaii is the fastest-aging state. What would you do to ensure we’re taking care of our kupuna?
My family has lived in the district for decades. In that time, we have become acutely aware of both the increase in the senior population and the challenges faced by this specific demographic. A focus I have is to adequately address the needs of this population. Currently I am drafting a policy paper that will address this need, seeing how I can best serve, as a representative, our kupuna in District 34.
11. What would you do to improve Hawaii’s public education system?
In 2010, three former governors of the state wrote a manifesto with suggestions on how to improve public education in Hawaii. Two of their recommendations are items I will be focusing on as a legislator in District 34: Give principals the power and resources to be true leaders of each school, and then hold them accountable; and increasing both classroom time and the quality of that classroom time for the keiki.