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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 6 General Election, 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 Fred Fogel, the Libertarian candidate for State House District 3, which covers Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown and Puna. There is one other candidate, Democrat Richard Onishi.
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?
Isn’t this more than one question? Yes, the Legislature should be more transparent. The average citizen should be able to determine how someone voted on all bills. A simple online service would suffice. Sexual harassment policies? Present laws suffice. Just enforce them. Lobbyist regulation? I ain’t listening much if elected. Fundraising during session? Hey, it takes money to win, but I’m a believer in severe campaign spending limitations. Televising and archiving all hearings? Sounds like a good thing.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
OK — as defined by Wikipedia — petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (referendum). Don’t we have that already? And, by the way, we are a republic, not a democracy. “Direct Democracy” by public ballot initiative is not what the founding fathers had in mind.
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 can’t ensure anything, much less the open exchange of ideas. The best way to address one-party control is to have three parties.
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?
No. The present reporting is enough. However, I believe the people should know exactly who donates to a politician. No hiding behind an organization. Publicize all donators.
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?
Access to public records should be immediate and free.
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?
What plans? I haven’t seen any. It starts with a balanced budget. We ain’t got that. We have to honor past promises to public workers, but the system should change for future public workers.
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?
No, we tax people too much already. Legalize gambling and put revenue towards education.
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?
Enforce existing laws.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
Support — what are politicians worried about? Term limits? Hawaiian sovereignty? County autonomy?
10. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Not making flood insurance available to people who live along the coast would be a start. Building roads higher. Limiting construction runoff that kills the reefs.
11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Education. School vouchers and a county school board.