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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 Bob McDermott, the Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives District 40, which covers Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry and Iroquois Point. There is one other candidate, Democrat Rose Martinez.
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?
Republicans do not have that fear of going against leadership. Our job is to foster openness and root out medically inaccurate trash like Pono Choices, or highlight the foolishness of funding unneeded pork barrel projects like the $170 million Kihei High School when the kids at Campbell have no seats. I have done my part to hold the majority accountable.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a 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?
As a member of the minority we do our best to make the majority better, to keep them sharp and honest. It is a tough battle, but we do our level best.
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?
Transparency is the key.
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 have fought this battle myself. The agencies stonewall and drag their feet.
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?
We need to grow the economic pie, promote economic activity to increase tax revenue.
7. Do you support changing the state sonstitution to allow taxing investment properties to fund the public schools? How would you implement it if it passes?
I supported “letting the people decide” as I did during same sex marriage. However, the underlying measure is severely flawed as all low-income rental properties fall into this category, therefore we’ll be possibly taxing low-income folks.
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?
The City Council needs to step up to the plate and clean up this mess. The reality is that we have thousands of these units, even though a new bed and breakfast permit has not been granted since 1990. They would rather look the other way than deal with it.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
Yes, let the people become more involved in the process.
10. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Continue to lead the nation in solar, and look to use hydrogen produced from gray water and solar. Plant 1,000 indigenous trees per year.
11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
School construction and repair and maintenance. I led the fight for Campbell High School and shall continue to speak out for the children in our area. Education is over 60 percent of our budget and the most important thing we deal with on a regular basis.