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 Lee Myrick Jr., a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, District 11, which covers Kihei, Wailea and Makena. There are two other Democratic candidates, Donald Couch Jr. and Tina Wildberger.
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?
Hold those who don’t want to be transparent accountable, and call them out.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
Yes, and the people should always be heard.
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?
I will always keep a open mind, and I would encourage my colleagues to follow suit because everyone’s opinion should be heard.
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?
Yes, I would require explanations of the reason the candidate accepted the lobbyist support.
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?
We will have to revisit why the delays and fees are justified.
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?
I would say, stay the course if it is working, but I am open to new suggestions and ideas.
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?
I would like to hear all the options to fund public schools and if anything passes by majority vote I would implement right away.
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?
I do not support this because it takes away from potential local rental properties from our people on the island. We should increase the fines on illegal vacation rentals.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
I support a state constitutional convention to bring more awareness to the community.
10. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Look at the preventive measures and restrictions that are not working and focus on being better prepared to deal with the effects.
11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The time it takes to finish local projects like building the Kihei High School and Kihei Gym. It should not take over 10 years. If elected I would not make excuses to the people who elected me and I will call out any elective official who is in favor of delaying such projects.