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 Joseph Simpliciano, Aloha Aina Party candidate for state House District 44, which includes Waianae, Makaha, Makua and Maili. Other candidates are Democrat Cedric Gates and Republican Maysana Aldeguer.
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?
I think if they shut down Hawaii from the very beginning and did it correctly by not allowing tourists to Hawaii then we would have been over this already. If the state had better leaders our unemployment fiasco would have never took place and there would have been proper handling of the CARES Act funds.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
If I had a choice I would combine the city into the state as well as combine the workers so that there is no longer a request for an unrealistic budget. The purchasing or contract program would be better maintained and supervised, there would no longer be loopholes for law enforcement or city and state agencies to tell the people that they can’t do something because it isn’t their jurisdiction or responsibility.
Those in government seats would take a pay cut. How do people in office work only four months out of the year but get paid $62,000?
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
The economy is already here in Hawaii and it has not been used to its full potential. This is one of the platforms for which the Aloha Aina Party has a plan that will work.
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?
The cuts should come from unnecessary projects and manpower. Departments of the city and state should step their rules and regulations up. The scale for services, fines and penalties does not match up with today’s cost of living. This update will add a small boost to cover the shortfall as legislators will work on the rest.
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?
If I am in office I will make sound decisions and conduct backwards planning to ensure things will work prior to what the governor wants to do. I will then make recommendations to prove that his idea will or will not work prior to anything being announced to the public.
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?
Very important, but as we have seen with the Kealohas it isn’t really about the officers it’s leadership from the top down that needs to be relieved or retrained.
7. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
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?
I totally disagree with this as taxpayers are funding every bit of government! How do you take money from people but not include them in your planning? There should have never been a blackout of information, at a time like this we should have been brought closer to each other, not pushed further away creating a much greater rift. We need transparency at every level.
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?
The thing we should start with is look at and heavily fine companies that are putting chemicals into our streams and oceans. We need to protect our ocean so that it can remain healthy as well as protect our lands and replace lost trees.
Hawaii is a small ecosystem that depends on one another. Hawaiian’s have showed us the way well before foreigners came to Hawaii. There was laws and seasons and it was done to protect the resources. I believe that the state and city have lost their way.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Crime, corruption and backdoor deals! I will try my best to get into office and turn Waianae back into a community that loves its sports, fighting (UFC, boxing and kickboxing) and outdoors.
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.
The way that I would “reinvent” Hawaii is I would not think about how I could benefit special interest parties and/or developers. I would not cater to them as they are the ones bringing drastic change to Hawaii. They come into Hawaii do what they want by getting help from politicians, make their money and leave.
All business done in Hawaii should be for Hawaii and the people of Hawaii. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else!
This is to include those states that send their houseless people to Hawaii. We will charge them a monthly fee to help take care of them, that’s for food, housing and medical costs. Why do the people of Hawaii who became residents of Hawaii have to fork over the bill? I believe if we implement this mindset we would have a clearer picture of what needs to be fixed and how it should be fixed.