Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Andria Tupola, Republican candidate for the state House, District 43, which includes Hawaiʻi Kai and Kalama Valley. There is one other candidate, Democrat Stacelynn Eli.
Name: Andria Tupola
Office seeking: State House, District 43
Occupation: Music teacher
Community organizations/prior offices held: Nanakuli/Makakilo Neighborhood Board
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 35
Place of residence: Maili
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?
It would be great to have more information regarding the bills. Who drafted the bill, how many times has it been proposed, why do we need it, who would be affected, etc. It would be great to have more visual aids during a hearing so that audience members can keep up with what bill is being discussed and see parts of the bill being referred to in testimony. It would be great to have this during floor session as well. I’ve seen other legislatures that have large screens on the House floor for the public to follow along with the discussion.
It would be great to see more discussion on bills rather than passing hundreds at a time without the committee or public really understanding what amendments were made and having time to think about unintended consequences. It would be great to see legislators more involved in their community every day needs. It would be great to see legislators taking their bills around to get signed instead of sending staff members. Of course, one needs to consider what changes are realistic for one person considering all the variables in the grand scheme of the Legislature.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
If you are referring to referendum and recall, yes I support implementing that in Hawaii.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
I think balance between the two parties would help to bring more of an open discussion on issues.
4. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
I would start by opposing bills that evade transparency.
5. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
6. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I’ve held a trio of quarterly town halls in various areas of the district. We’ve held 18 to date and theme the meetings around topics that have been raised as important community concerns: landfills, traffic, people blocking lanes, homelessness, Mauna Kea, Maili contamination, etc. We also have an online Facebook group where people can regularly discuss issues and interact with me on a more regular basis, as meetings are sometime hard to attend at night for residents who work multiple jobs and fight traffic coming home.
7. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Traffic is definitely the most pressing issue. From the position that I am in as a state representative, I can do some things to create an impact on this issue. One of the greatest things that we’ve implemented in the district is a Facebook group for traffic. It has over 12,000 members and is a very useful communication tool to push forward other bigger initiatives regarding traffic.
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?
Every district is different and it is very important that the community is brought into the discussion of development. The residents of Hawaii are hoping for the government to take responsibility on the need for environmental resources in every area. It is important at this point that every community develop a plan and that the representative help the voices be heard by the appropriate agencies and developers.
9. What should the Legislature do to improve police accountability?
There is a need for accountability in many agencies in the state and city and many residents would like to see the Legislature be held accountable first and then consider how to hold others accountable.
10. Hawaii is the fastest-aging state. What would you do to ensure we’re taking care of our kupuna?
It is very important to know what groups or non-profits exist within our communities because there are great impacts we can make now to help their programs and initiatives. Meeting with AARP and hearing their concerns can also play a big role in helping current initiatives for our kupuna.
11. What would you do to improve Hawaii’s public education system?
I have found the greatest success in our district by meeting one on one with the principals, integrating into the parent organizations, and affording resources or connections to help them with their ideas and visions for success. Each school is different and has different struggles. It’s been helpful to assist the principals from where they are with their issues and empowering them to be great leaders for the school, staff, and students. Many of the principals are amazing and with just a little outside help from a local representative they have really received relief in frustrating situations.