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 Last, Libertarian Party candidate for State House District 5, which includes Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua and Kailua-Kona. The other candidates are Democrat Jeanne Kapela and Citialli Decker 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?
No, the state leaders have not handled the situation correctly. I would have given the choice for those establishments that believed the patrons should wear masks or not. They are private entities and can deny service to anyone they want, for any reason. We should eliminate the Hawaii Tourism Authority. What purpose does it serve?
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
I’d eliminate most employees of all state departments. It is ridiculous that we keep employing more and more people, along with the increasing benefits. And then they (state government) need to raise more taxes?
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
I’d shy away from helping tourist-selective private entities. They should not be given tax incentives while still claiming a hardship.
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?
Absolutely not! We should not give any preferential treatment to the remaining government workers. Yes, I would absolutely support reductions in benefits to all government workers. They (government workers) should have the same benefits as in the private sector, not more or better ones.
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 eliminate the majority of the government workforce, to include appointed selective employees.
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. I’d first try to implement a full disclosure of all members of the police misconduct records, as well as all government workers. The existing oversight boards must live within normal means. We cannot throw money to each department at will.
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 do not agree with the governor’s action regarding existing laws. I’d insist that the records of all governmental agencies be available to anyone who asks. But without the delays and excessive costs.
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?
I am not an expert in climate change, and would leave the decision to qualified individuals.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The overwhelming burden of taxes on the average working citizen. The purpose of taxes is to pay for the over-inflated state (and local) number of employees. Enough is enough!
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 question should be, “Why do we have such outdated technology,” and in the face of an always increasing government workforce. We should do as any non-government company does, pay people for actual work done, not an overinflated amount. We should, and must reduce the government workforce, along with all the underproductive employees. This would equal less of a tax burden on the non-government workers.
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