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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 Michael Danner, Republican candidate for state House District 49, which includes Kaneohe, Maunawili and Olomana. The other candidate is Democrat Scot Matayoshi.
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?
Hell no. The handling of this crisis by Democrat leadership has been woefully incompetent. The $1.6 billion given to the Democrat leadership of Hawaii by the Trump administration should have been delivered directly to every resident of Hawaii. Every man, woman and child that is a resident should have received a dividend check in the amount of $1,143. The people who know best what their personal and family needs are, are the people themselves.
The Ige administration claims they want to save COVID-19 money for a rainy day. The rainy day is today. This is not COVID-20 or COVID-21 money. They have probably already wasted half of the $1.6 billion, but it’s not too late to send each resident $571.50. This money will immediately jump-start the economy.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated for us that we can live with less services. I would start with a budget cut of 10% across the board.
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
Right now the large hotels owned by foreign corporations are refusing to accept visitors. I would establish a grant program that would assist the locals to develop suites in their owner-occupied homes, or cabins in the backyard of their owner-occupied homes so that they could host visitors that love coming to Hawaii and can teach them to love caring for Hawaii.
These dollars paid directly to local people rather than foreign corporations would recirculate in the local economy. A thousand dollars would have the impact of ten-thousand dollars or more.
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 absolutely not satisfied. My first step would be to look at 10% budget cuts across the board. After that all options are on the table. All belts will have to be tightened from all sectors.
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?
Elect Andria Tupola.
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?
Yes, absolutely. The recent events have occurred because of the lack of training of a very small number of law enforcement officers.
The left-wing media and Democratic political operatives have used these unfortunate events to lie and create chaos.
7. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I have no idea what this question is referring to. I could google it, but without that I have no idea.
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?
Gov. Ige has mishandled this supposed crisis since day one. He has now ordered that his incompetent mishandling be extended to July 31.
The people of Hawaii are resilient enough to overcome this incompetence. After the elections in November I will either initiate or support an Ige recall effort.
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?
Threats to the reef come from corporate entities, visiting tourists and locals alike. Using Hanauma Bay as an example, I would open the beach Friday through Monday, and rest the beach Tuesday through Thursday.
I would establish a policy that would limit travel on local roads and highways. Vehicles with license plates ending in an odd-number would be allowed on roads Monday and Wednesday. Vehicles with license plates ending with an even number, would be allowed to travel Tuesday and Thursday. All vehicles can travel Friday through Sunday.
This would encourage car-pooling, provide savings to car owners. reduce maintenance costs of roads and benefit the environment.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The expansion of Hawaiian Memorial park. There is an attempt by a corporation to rezone conservation land so that they may add thousands more burial sites above our aquifer.
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.
I have already mentioned above that I would use a dividend process to deliver federal funding provided to the state and give it directly to the individual legal citizens of Hawaii. Furthermore, I would reduce the monies given to OHA and DHHL by 50%, and I would deliver those monies directly to Kanaka Maoli, to whom the monies belong, through a quarterly dividend process.
I would establish a property tax-exempt status for all Kanaka on the DHHL wait list, which would be applicable to any residential property, whether single family home or condominium, that they currently reside in and are paying for. This tax-exempt status would remove thousands of Kanaka who have been on the DHHL waitlist, like myself for 43 years.
This action would make pono a promise that was initiated by Prince Jonah Kuhio 100 years ago. If and when the state of Hawaii and DHHL deliver on that promise, the tax exempt status would be removed.
The state has taken the motto, “Life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” No righteousness of any kind can be perpetuated on the land, if the original people of the land are not treated righteously in regards to their land.
The federal government involvement is not required to take this action. The state and its subdivisions, the city and counties, can pass this by executive order or legislative action.