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 James Dickens, Republican candidate for U.S. House District 1, which includes urban Oahu. The other Republican candidates include Nancy Olson, Arturo Reyes, Taylor Smith and Ron Curtis.
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?
In order to make any plan for reopening successful we must have the correct information on the data regarding infections and deaths directly caused by COVID-19. We need measures in place to mobilize testing and treatment regimens with the proven peer reviewed studies that show hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc have effectively reduced length of the infection, drastically reducing patients’ need to be intubated, and minimizing fatalities.
Once the data is reconciled, we can begin to open our country with concrete ways to combat the infection and only quarantine the sick and vulnerable. Masks will still be worn, along with social distancing. Soon after the reopening will begin to take hold. We can ramp this up quickly, if we are committed to doing the things necessary for our community and the life blood of our community, our small businesses. I am absolutely confident that we should have our businesses opening up and our kids back in school this fall.
The role of a Hawaii representative in Congress is to be a staunch advocate regarding financial assistance for what our state will need to accomplish the reopening. In doing that, the representative must have ownership in oversight making sure the money actually goes to where it’s intended. To make sure that all the information needed from all the health organizations is accurately disseminated to Hawaii’s state and local health and government officials. To be the liaison between the Governor’s Office, Congress, Senate and the White House advocating and informing all members, making sure we do everything to help our citizens and businesses get through the crisis.
2. What would be your priority if elected? How would that change if your party is in the majority? The minority?
I absolutely believe the Republican Party will be in the majority in the House, the Senate and retain the White House. The first priority is to help Hawaii open back up.
At the same time just before arriving in Washington D.C., we will sign in the “First 100 Day Contract with Hawaii.” We are promising Hawaii we will do more in our first 100 days in office than the other party has done in the last 50 years. In our agreement we will introduce legislation called the Hawaii Citizen Cost of Living Tax Relief Act:
• Under this act, people of Hawaii filing single making $100,000 and below will pay no federal income tax. Married couples filing jointly making $200,000 and below will pay no federal income tax.
• Under this act, we will provide a personal exemption of 4.5% on all purchases due to the unfair burden of the Jones Act and put that 4.5% of personal income back into the pockets of the people of Hawaii to help strengthen households and local businesses.
• Under this act, small businesses of Hawaii making $300,000 and below will pay no federal income tax.
• Under this act, we will provide an exemption of 4.5% on all business purchases due to the unfair burden of the Jones Act and put that 4.5% back in the pockets of small businesses of Hawaii.
If we are in the minority, we will work with both houses to build coalitions reaching across the aisle to accomplish the same things mentioned in our tax relief act on personal income.
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?
I understand and believe in justice. I have long admired and respected one of the greatest leaders in our history, Martin Luther King. I admired him because he believed in peaceful demonstrations demanding justice where he mobilized all races to stand for equality and that all men were created equal in the eyes of God.
What happened to George Floyd was wrong and I believe the policemen will be held accountable to the rule of law. Justice will be served. Viewing that broke my heart as It did most policemen who would never do something like that.
However, what we are seeing now is peaceful demonstrations being taken over by anarchists who only want violence, looting and for people to live in fear. They don’t want freedom for us or anyone else except themselves. I believe the authorities have to step in and take control. Those bad few can’t speak for all officers. Until the passing of George Floyd, we saw police officers as heroes. The good ones need our support to help fight violence.
Then we have tyranny by political leaders using emergency powers to lock down citizens but allow riots. They are pushing to defund the police.
I will not support defunding the police in any form. I think they need more funding for more officers on the street, more funding for new training and technology to help them do their job..
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?
What a great question. In order to do that we have to remove Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer out of leadership positions in both houses. With a Republican majority you will see us reach across the aisle. We have tried in the Senate with zero help from Schumer and their band of elitists who put their party above the people on every single issue.
I do not think our country is as divided as you think. You feel that because that is how the media portrays it. Once Nov. 3 is here I think you are going to see voters send a very strong message to the elite who only want power to control the people and not return it to the people.
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?
I was raised by a career soldier so I absolutely believe and support the military. I believe the current level is good to provide protection for the mainland. I would like to see enhanced benefits to our men and women in the military.
I will work to see military technology and manufacturing move to the islands where we could create new jobs for our civilian workforce. I believe that should have happened already.
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?
We start with a balanced budget agreement moving forward. I believe less government, which would mean less government spending, is the right way to move forward. We need to take away the restrictions of heavy regulations, where it makes sense. This will enable the private sector and churches/charities to take on some of things that government took over.
We must start eliminating the debt in a very significant way and have both parties protect the future of our children. We are in a very dire situation and only serious people that believe in fiscal and government spending restraints need to be in office.
7. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
War should always be the last resort. Because of our role in the world, I believe we always will be involved in advocating for peace and helping where we can. I agree with President Trump that sending our troops to fight the same battle repeatedly is a bad thing. This president did the right thing by getting out of Syria and pulling back on Afghanistan and Iraq. We have had peace through absolute strength since he took office.
Also, very importantly I believe, if we have intelligence of an imminent attack here or on the mainland, America has the right to avoid war on our homeland by any means necessary. We have always stood for freedom and justice in the world and no one has delivered more for the world than the United States.
8. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
I think we are starting to get on the right track so far as carbon emissions. I love seeing the new electric technology coming out and how much progress we are making on developing new technology with batteries storage allowing us to operate more and more things that normally produce a lot of carbon emissions. This is where government can work with the private sector for funding grants and awarding great ideas with those funds.
I love that I live in a state that is very conscious of how we take care of the planet and our oceans. I will support any legislation that allows funding to organizations in the private sector who provide initiatives for these protections and will actively work to promote them.
9. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
Well first you must get the government to stop raiding the funds. It is off-limits. I believe in giving more power to the people to decide if they want to take over their benefit and invest it the way they see fit. Honestly, the private sector can deliver a better return than the U.S. government.
I believe that Medicare and Medicaid should be overhauled because there are many things not covered or things that people don’t want covered that could go to make the plan better.
10. What should be done to reform U. S. immigration policies, if anything?
We need to enforce the laws on the books regarding immigration. We need to make sure that Mexico controls its side of the border and, if not, we have to, with Mexico’s cooperation, establish a zone in front of our border fence that would not allow for human trafficking into the U.S. through tunnels and waterways.
The president absolutely did the right thing. We must have orderly structured immigration or else we won’t have a country. Look at what is happening in the United Kingdom and Germany. The violence and poverty levels increased dramatically over a very short time during their immigration crisis. We don’t want that happening here.
11. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
I believe in the second amendment. I believe its main function is to protect our first amendment rights. We must get better with communication between authorities so gun shop owners know if a person is not allowed a firearm. How many times have we seen a gun purchased and they were a convicted felon on parole?
If we enforce the laws on the books and hold people accountable who are supposed to be updating the systems we have in place then I think you will see less problems.
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.
The answer is in two parts. First, diversifying our economy. Second, seriously investing in building a one-of-a-kind, top-performing educational system to attract key leaders to move here.
Reinventing Hawaii so we are not dependent on tourism and government is to invest in the people of Hawaii. Our economy has to be diversified if we are going to keep the cost of living down. We first must position Hawaii as the No. 1 state instead of last, so we can prioritize our future. Once Washington, D.C., understands that, we can begin to drive federal projects and work with the private sector and the people of Hawaii to diversify our economy. We should be working with all the major companies working on food sustainability, zero emission technology reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, and develop our own tech sector.
I believe our schools should be bastions of creativity and responsibility. We need to recruit qualified leaders that think out of the box and inspire children to learn. Our curriculum should be tough, and the teachers devoted. For teachers to be devoted they must know that the state is willing to invest in them by paying them a living wage. Starting salary must be a priority that can be helped through federal funding and the private sector. Cannot be through taxing your people.
We should really get behind UH and really help drive that partnership for them to become better and to partner more with schools. When people see that we are invested in education they will see great opportunity for their children and hopefully move their businesses here.