Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 3 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 Carl Hood, Republican candidate for state House District 35, which includes Pearl City, Manana and Waipio. The other candidates are Democrat Roy Takumi and Keline-Kameyo Kahau of the Aloha Aina Party.
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?
This pandemic has routed our economy due to our dependence on tourism. I think state leaders could have done many things differently. I believe that testing and health care were made readily available and are being handled well.
I also believe that the stay-at-home orders caused serious economic harm, especially to small businesses, churches, schools and family life. It is well known that more than 800 criminals (many with multiple felony convictions) were released due to this pandemic. Forcing people to stay at home on one hand and releasing criminals on the other is very contradicting. I would not have done that, or allowed it.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
Bloated government salaries need to be reduced. The rail went severely over-budget. The rail effectively derailed our budget. That does not mean I oppose it, as it is already too late.
The rail was designed to address the problem of traffic to Manoa from West Oahu. Why has it been rerouted to Ala Moana? I do not know anyone from the west side that shops or frequents Ala Moana. One of many things I’ve learned through this pandemic is that Manoa’s classes effectively continued via distance education (internet), and thusly eased traffic issues. If distance learning is effective, then why is tuition so expensive?
Back to the question, I would protect our land. I do not believe anyone from another country should be allowed to own or buy land in Hawaii. This catastrophic practice has driven home prices out of reach for many locals. Also, I would demolish the Jones Act, which costs the average Hawaii family $1,800 a year, and was enacted in 1920. (Grassroot Institute study, May 2020.)
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
Diversifying our economy means being less dependent on tourism. We need more farmers, we need to get back to our roots, we need to be self-reliant. We were at one time self-sustainable and I believe it can happen again.
Vocational programs that were taught in high school need to be brought back to give our keiki more choices of what they want to do and be. Electricians, plumbers, masons, mechanics, welders, etc. This would allow for more small businesses to open and thrive.
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?
I am currently satisfied with the state’s liabilities. The virus-related budget shortfalls will be dealt with over time, whether funding comes from China or the federal level.
We are currently giving up our rights and freedoms for a less than .5% mortality rate. For perspective, the independence and freedom of this country was fought for during a smallpox epidemic. The accountable parties that let loose COVID will be dealt with in time.
I do not want to see reductions in benefits for retirees.
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?
I would help expose these issues and cliques to the public, and help expose wrongdoings in the higher levels of government officials and executives. I would ensure bipartisanship at all costs. What is good for Hawaii and her people comes first.
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?
I worked for HPD for the last 12 years, I don’t believe that discrimination against people of color is an issue. To improve policing, specialized courses that teach proactive policing rather than reactive policing should be done.
Existing efforts to hold police accountable have proved efficient and adequate. I do not agree with mandatory disclosure as oversight boards have proved reliable.
7. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
No. I have witnessed voter fraud firsthand and this process seems unreliable at best.
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?
We are a constitutionally free republic and as such transparency is key. I disagree wholeheartedly with the suspension. Most working class people of this great state do not normally have time to sit in meetings or get “the entire story” due to time constraints in their life.
Honolulu Civil Beat and Hawaii Free Press have been reliable sources of government actions as of late and touch on very hot topics. Personally, what is kept out of the public eye is HECO and their net energy metering, which is now closed to the public. This means that if you want solar on your home, you would need to invest in batteries as the “grid” only supports up to 20% of any given neighborhood. However, if you research HECO and their use of solar farming in Mililani, it soon becomes clear that agriculture is vastly different than energy production. Energy and produce are two very different things. Bring back net energy metering so homeowners and renters can both share in the expanse of energy here in Hawaii.
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?
We should ensure our infrastructure can resist hurricane winds, such as our termite and waterlogged phone and electrical poles on the east side of the island. Every time one falls it effectively cuts off traffic on that side of the island, sometimes for days.
We live in a very moderate climate; other than hurricanes, there are really no other concerns.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The sale and distribution of methamphetamine is the greatest issue I would face in my district. It causes the most crime, whether it be violent or property crime. As of now, there are four drugs considered “dangerous,” heroin, morphine, cocaine and methamphetamine. Dangerous drugs in the first degree is a Class A felony and if sold to a minor would constitute this crime (except for methamphetamine, which is downgraded).
This also pertains to the manufacture of dangerous drugs as well. I would like to add methamphetamine to the other drugs and if caught selling/distributing to a minor or manufacturing any amount to be included in dangerous drugs in the first degree. Also, I believe mandatory jail time for anyone caught with meth on them or in their vehicle. Whether it be a week or month. This drug is the worst I’ve ever seen, it destroys not just families but communities as well. And we as a society take the brunt of this drug and its effects.
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.
This touches on what I’ve stated previously. We need to be less dependent on tourism. We need to go back to becoming self-sustaining. We need to support our small business owners and teach our keiki meaningful life skills at a young age.
My One Big idea is that only Americans can buy/own land in Hawaii, no foreign entities. A Chinese company has already spent $300 million on West Oahu properties and is buying about 26 more acres in the area for $280 million.
Also, open up Net Energy Metering to public.