Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary 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 Bannr Fanene, nonpartisan candidate for State Senate District 22, which includes Mililani Mauka, Waipio Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village and a portion of Poamoho.
1. Hawaii has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the biggest impact is to the economy and the tourism industry, which has been Hawaii’s biggest economic driver. Do you think state leaders have handled the response to the virus effectively, including the approach to testing and health care as well as the stay-at-home orders that have caused serious economic harm? What would you have done differently?
Under the circumstances, the initial response by the state has been commendable. However, in the past couple of months the state has failed to address the current needs of Hawaii during COVID-19.
What would I do with regard to tourism? I would not open Hawaii up at this point to tourism.
With regard to testing, health care, and stay-at-home orders, I would allow at this point for Hawaii’s people to decide for themselves on an individual basis to follow or not follow recommended policy: To wear or not to wear face masks. To open one’s business or not. To patronize a service provider or to not, etc.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
Kill rail fail! The financial backlash would be enormous, but still much less than to continue construction and then to maintain a project that is bankrupting Hawaii.
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
• Legalize the cultivation of hemp and invest in its offshoot industries.
• Turn Hawaii’s harbors into international transhipment ports.
4. 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? Would you support reductions in benefits including in pension contributions for public employees in light of virus-related budget shortfalls?
Absolutely not. A contract is binding.
5. The state’s virus response effort has exposed deep rifts within the top levels of government, including between the Legislature and Gov. David Ige. He will be in office two more years, so what would you do to ensure public confidence in Hawaii’s government officials and top executives?
Not possible. Zero confidence. Next question.
6. Recent deaths of citizens at the hands of police are igniting protests and calls for reform across the country, primarily aimed at preventing discrimination against people of color. How important do you see this as an issue for Hawaii? What should be done to improve policing and police accountability throughout the state? Do you support police reform efforts such as mandatory disclosure of misconduct records by police agencies and adequate funding for law enforcement oversight boards that have been established in recent years?
The Democrat Party and its media buddies have misdirected the people. There is no discrimination any different than from decades past. Whites were also slaves in the early U.S. There is always room for reform where necessary. So yes, even in Hawaii’s law enforcement.
7. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
No I do not. It already exists. It’s called an “election.” It’s called democracy. Too many crybabies out there! Crybabies who don’t register to vote, who are registered to but don’t vote, and those who are too cowardly to run for political office to make their voices heard.
The Hawaii Democrats got it figured out and get elected at ridiculously low population percentage rates.
8. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Gov. David Ige suspended the open government laws under an emergency order during the pandemic. Do you agree or disagree with his action? What would you do to ensure the public has access to open meetings and public records in a timely fashion?
Completely disagree with Ige’s decree to hide public records.
9. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs? How big of a priority is this for you?
In terms of “available” budget during COVID-19, this is near the middle of my priority list. We either move our coastal structures/infrastructure or move the ocean. Our reefs protect us, so we must protect our reefs.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The most pressing issue facing my District 22 is homelessness, which is directly related to the ridiculously high cost of living in Hawaii. Lower the cost of living, making available more budget to house/serve our homeless.
Specifically if elected I will regularly visit and get to know each homeless person in my District 22. I will connect them with service providers. I will follow up.
If I have to do this myself with personal Senate pay, I will within the first two years provide toilet and shower facilities for our District 22 homeless.
11. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
My big idea is not a new Idea. Repealing/adjusting the Maritime Act of 1920 Jones Act has not happened. Why? Ask the Hawaii Democrats who own Hawaii’s politics here and our four seats in Congress.
As a state senator, I would not be able to directly legislate the Jones Act. I would be in a position to expose the “why” it has not been done. And the “who” of why it has not been done. As a state senator, I would lobby the state of Hawaii to make Congress listen to us, the people, not only the Hawaii Democrats.