A solid 70 percent of likely Hawaii voters statewide would like to limit the number of terms senators and representatives serve in the Legislature.

Only 14 percent oppose the idea while another 16 percent say they either aren’t sure or that it just doesn’t matter to them.

“I think the whole system was designed with volunteers in mind and not professional, career politicians,” said Dan Denkis, a real estate agent in Kihei. “So I definitely advocate for term limits for any political office.”

Joint Education committee meeting with Senators and Representatives pack around a full meeting room. 22 april 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Lifetime employment? A conference committee hearing at the State Capitol between House and Senate members in 2015. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Unlike governors, lieutenant governors and county officials, state legislators can run as often as they like for office. The only way to change that is for the Legislature to pass bills capping how long they can serve at the pleasure of voters — something sitting incumbents would probably not do.

A new Civil Beat Poll asked voters about five issues that have consistently failed to gain traction at the Legislature but could be considered in a constitutional convention. A ConCon question is on the Nov. 6 ballot, and if voters give it a majority vote it would be the first time since 1978 that the state held one.

The Civil Beat Poll surveyed 961 likely voters Oct. 8-12. The sample consisted of 70 percent landlines and 30 percent cellphones. The poll’s margin of errors was 3.2 percent.

In addition to term limits, voters support having a lottery (58 percent), conducting all elections by mail (also 58 percent) and allowing for statewide citizen initiative, referendum and recall (55 percent).

Seth Rosenthal, opinion research consultant for the Merriman River Group, which conducted the poll, said support for these four issues are popular “across the board” in terms of demographic groups.

The one issue that a majority of voters don’t support is recreational marijuana. Just 41 percent said they want to see pakalolo legalized, as has been the case in Washington, Oregon and California, among other states.

Count longtime community activist Bob Nakata among the opposition.

“On some things I am not as liberal as people think I am,” said Nakata, who has pushed for more affordable housing, among myriad other issues.

Nakata said he is concerned about substance abuse, especially among youth. It’s a position that is informed in part by his past work as a pastor involved with youth groups and education campaigns on the danger of crystal methamphetamine.

Nakata, who is 77, said he voted in favor of medical marijuana when he served as a state senator. And he said he recognizes that pot is not at the same level as crystal meth.

But he stops short of supporting recreational marijuana.

Rosenthal of Merriman River said that there is a clear difference among voters on the pot issue when it comes to age. A majority of those surveyed who are over 50 years of age oppose recreational marijuana while a majority of those under 50 support it.

Support for legal weed, polls indicate, is slowly growing as the population changes.

Civil Beat Poll October 2018 — Issues:

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