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 Byron McCorriston, nonpartisan candidate for U.S. House District 2, which includes rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. The other nonpartisan candidate is Ron Burrus.
1. The entire country, including Hawaii, has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. What should national leaders be prioritizing to help keep the outbreak under control and repair economic damage done by measures taken to respond to the outbreak? What role can you play as just one of 435 members of the U.S. House to help Hawaii?
Historically, pandemics were handled differently. The sick were quarantined, affected cities were quarantined. Incoming vessels or shipments were also quarantined. Instead of shutting down a nation, it was infected homes and infected cities. However, entire states and countries were not closed.
Safety measures and sanitation measures were put into place to ensure safety for all. Focusing on quarantining cities/towns who have high infection rates, families who have been exposed and are sick staying home is needed. However, with appropriate safeguards, we need to allow America to get back to work.
Once everyone is back to work in the capacity of near full function, we then need to address the industries that need more assistance than others. Addressing the housing market and fair wages would all factor into the livability, as well as how people can recover from future issues. Focusing on mitigating travel would be the first step to spreading of the virus.
Other countries called back their residents who were abroad. They understood that if they didn’t choose to come home, they were choosing to remain where they were until the pandemic came to an end, and at their own expense. Doing the same within the states could have slowed and/or stopped the spread of the virus. Which would have shortened the lifespan and spread of the virus. This would have had fewer and less severe repercussions on our economy.
2. What would be your first priority if elected? How would that change if your party is in the majority? The minority?
When I am elected, I would like to speak to the people of Hawaii. Not limited to adults, but children as well. As an elected official, I work for the people of Hawaii, and their voices need to be heard.
I would like to create a priority list of things to accomplish that represent the voice of the residents of the islands. As a non-partisan, I do not answer to any party and have no persons or businesses influencing or directing my decisions. As a non-partisan, I want to be the image of change in our local politics.
3. 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. What should Congress do, if anything, to improve policing and police accountability?
Police were once respected in our communities. However, that is when they worked in their own neighborhoods, and they knew the people they were policing. They resembled community servants, rather than enforcement.
Racism is an issue, and creating a community advisory that assists in holding law enforcement accountable should be considered. Additionally, more thorough psychological evaluations and testing prior to becoming employed should also become a common practice. Regular counseling should be a mandatory part of their jobs.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers often have to handle some very sad and scary things on a daily basis. The impact on their psyche, and how that impacts their response to situations, will be altered. Having reform is going to be necessary.
4. Whatever happens in the general election, Congress and the country will likely remain deeply divided. What specifically would you do to help bridge the partisan divide in Washington?
My hope, when elected as a non-partisan, is to show our state, as well as Congress, what aloha means. Additionally, to really set the example of voting for the best of people, verses voting party lines.
People are ready for change, and they are tired of the constant battle between sides. I hope that my ability to represent both sides will allow people to meet in the middle again.
5. What is your view of the role of the U.S. military in the islands, and would you like to see that role increased or decreased?
While the military has had a long-standing presence in the islands, I believe the lands which they are not using need to be turned back over to Hawaii. I also believe any negative ecological impacts their presence have on our islands need to be managed and corrected.
Unless there is a genuine security threat to Hawaii, there is no reason that their presence needs to be increased here on the islands.
6. Congress has struggled in recent years to reach agreement on budget deficits, the national debt and spending in general. What would be your approach to fiscal matters?
I have always felt that the amount of spending done on frivolous things, as well as the military, has been unnecessary or excessive. There are many programs that need to be modified and rebuilt.
We have stopped teaching a man to fish, and we need to get back to encouraging and helping people thrive. In theory, this will also assist in the deficits we face.
7. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
War is never the answer. As humans, we are always at war. War on crime, war on drugs, war on wildfires, war on this and that. Where has that gotten us? Has it ever solved the issues which we have gone to war against?
8. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
Encouraging businesses and industries to switch to lower carbon footprint practices, and giving them incentives to do such would be a solid start. There are so many aspects of carbon emissions, we must find one industry to focus on, and then continue forward through them one by one, finding appropriate measures that not only benefit our planet but those industries as well.
9. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
This is not something I am deeply familiar with, however, I feel that consulting with people who can propose ideas to improve the efficiency of this program is the first place to start.
What we currently have is not working for everyone, and we do have people starving and lacking the basic needs to survive.
10. What should be done to reform U. S. immigration policies, if anything?
This is obviously a touchy subject for many people, myself included. I choose to approach everything with aloha, and it really should be at the foundation of how we handle things.
The United States of America is founded on immigration, I find myself having a hard time with restricting immigration further. What we need to do is look at our current platform and see how we can handle the process with aloha, as well as safety and security. Meet people with aloha first, and create an environment that encourages people to take the proper and legal route, versus the illegal route.
11. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
I believe the word “control” needs to be removed from the topic, as it is a trigger word and stops people from looking at creating favorable solutions to each side.
I believe we need to focus on “education.” This could be a class that anyone who wants to purchase a guy must go to and pass for safety and understanding.
I believe in the right to bear arms, however, things have changed drastically from when that was written. We need to adapt to modern times but really focus on education with owners and their families.
12. 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.
Hawaii’s current vein is tourism, and if anything, we have learned how easily our economy locally can be negatively impacted by a shutdown in the tourist industry.
Hawaii of the past was that of farmers, and with such fruitful lands, we really need to put an emphasis back into the agriculture and aquaculture industry.
Hawaii has every ability to be self-sustainable. Solar power, food production and creating industries in waste management should be at the forefront of a remodeled Hawaii. Putting emphasis in those industries will increase available jobs to residents as well.
13. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
As noted above, tourism is a part of Hawaii, whether we like it or not. We need to focus on educating our tourists as they enter our great state on local rules and laws. We are different than other places, and often people are found disrespecting the wildlife, not knowing what they are doing is illegal.
Also encouraging more cultural tourism, as well as eco-tourism, should be the leading entity of tourism on the islands. This will support education, and a result is a respect for the aina.