Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Andrew V. Kayes, the only nonpartisan candidate for the state House of Representatives District 9, which covers Kahului, Puunene, Old Sand Hills and Maui Lani on Maui.
1. Should the Legislature be more transparent and accountable? What would you do, given how tough it can be for individual lawmakers to go against leadership, to bring about needed reform in areas like sexual harassment policies, lobbyist regulation, fundraising during session and televising and archiving all hearings?
Yes. Since I am independent, I would not need to toe the line for any party. I am new to the political process, but I am smart and a fast and apt learner. I would absolutely support televising and archiving all hearings, and I would be happy to introduce a bill to do so.
Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated, and I would support strong policies for stiff consequences for those found guilty of this. With that said, I would also want anyone accused of such to have the ability to defend themselves appropriately against false allegations.
Once in session, I would see no need for legislators to fund-raise. I think legislators should concentrate on their jobs in session and fund-raise outside of session. I would stand behind this. In fact I am not seeking or accepting any monies for my campaign.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
Yes. I think it is a good way to get the people closer to the process of public decision making. I would absolutely support a citizens initiative process.
3. Hawaii has the most lopsided Legislature in the country, with no Republicans in the Senate and only five in the House. How would you ensure there is an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability for decisions? What do you see as the consequences of one-party control, and how would you address that?
The one-party control of Hawaii is not good for our state. We need ideas from all perspectives. The state Legislature has largely become an echo chamber with Democrats patting each other on the backs and very few willing to go against the party. Moderates, independents, conservatives and Republicans should be represented in some form. There are plenty of non-Democrats in Hawaii.
I would address this immediately by simply being in the Legislature. I am running as an independent. I would have no allegiance to the democratic party of Hawaii. None. I would absolutely want to work with my fellow legislators, but I would bring a different voice to the table, a voice that answers to no party, a voice that represents the people of my district.
4. Would you support more frequent campaign finance reporting during election years, particularly before the primary? What other steps would you take to improve lobbying and financial disclosures?
As a newcomer to this process, I can tell you there is already a lot of reporting built in. I am not sure more reporting would help, so no, I would not support more reporting. To me, as someone doing this by myself, the reporting system is laborious and the system seem to be slightly rigged in favor of incumbent legislators. I believe that is part of the reason our Legislature is so lopsided and dominated by one party. I think the steps/rules in place have merit, but I don’t think any more are needed.
5. Hawaii’s public records law requires that records be made available whenever possible. Yet state agencies often resist release through delays and imposing excessive fees. What would you do to ensure the public has access to government records?
I would support any bill to make public records available as soon as possible. I would support penalties for agencies that do not provide public records in a timely fashion.
6. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers?
No, I am not satisfied. We need to look at ways to reduce and eliminate debt while still providing stable retirements for our public employees. This needs to be looked at seriously and although likely not popular to the public employees, the state could look at ways for public employees to pay some portion of future benefits through pretax contributions.
I want to support our public employees, but I also don’t want the whole system to collapse. It is a complex issue that I would need to study more to give a more specific solution.
7. Do you support changing the state constitution to allow taxing investment properties to fund the public schools? How would you implement it if it passes?
In general, I am not for more taxation. I would think that investment properties should pay the same property tax as others, without the homeowners exemption as done now.
8. Illegal vacation rentals have proliferated throughout Hawaii. The state is not collecting tax revenue on many of these properties and residents worry about overcrowded neighborhoods and other problems. Do you see this as a problem given Hawaii’s booming visitor industry and what would you propose to do about it?
Yes, I think that people who have vacation rentals through airbnb or craigslist, etc., should at a minimum be paying excise tax on the revenues they obtain.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
Yes. Anything that helps limit the power of big government and return it to the people I would support. To me the constitutional convention would do that.
10. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
We should be concentrating on our own state by encouraging good individual choices. We should recycle as much as we can. We should conserve water and other precious natural resources. And we should try to help educate others on the mainland and around the world to make good individual choices as well.
11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
I see the overall cultural shift where life is not respected as the most pressing problem facing my district and the state. I want to be in the Legislature to make sure there is someone who passionately cares about life, all life. I would introduce a bill to repeal the recently passed Hawaii Physician Assisted Suicide Law. I would support legislation that helps those with terminal illness to get resources they need to be comfortable, and help get them to a place mentally and physical where they no longer are wishing to die.
We need to foster a culture in Hawaii that respects and reveres life. All life. If our state lawmakers do not respect life, then why should our young people? My hope is to help foster a culture where young people in Hawaii develop a strong foundation, a core belief, that all life is important, all life is sacred and all life special. For young people with those convictions, it would be unthinkable to hurt himself/herself or others.