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 Joe Akana, Republican candidate for Congressional District 2, which includes rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. The other candidates are Democrat Kai Kahele, Libertarian Michelle Tippens, Jonathan Hoomanawanui of the Aloha Aina Party, John Giuffre of the American Shopping Party and nonpartisan Ron Burrus.
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?
The first priority is to ensure the safety and health of our nation and our people. The second is to get our economy kick-started and growing at full speed, just as it was doing prior to COVID-19. I see my role as working with the president and members of both parties to continue to grow our country
2. What would be your first priority if elected? How would that change if your party is in the majority? The minority?
First priority is to kick-start the economy. No difference if majority or minority. Our economic welfare is top priority.
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?
Unfortunately, the injustices caused by “bad apples” is painting a bad picture of all police officers. Defunding the police forces is not the answer. Revising the practices of the police forces and ensuring those practices are funded is definitely better. Requiring all officers to have body cameras and that they are all functioning properly should be a priority.
I also feel that passing major prohibitive laws that prevent the police from doing their jobs is not in anyone’s best interest. People are going to be hurt, families are going to be hurt, if the police are so restricted that they are unable to do their jobs. We are a nation of laws, not lawlessness, rioting and chaos
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?
We are a nation of laws. As such, we are also a constitutional republic, ruled by laws. Our legislators need to get their eyes off of themselves and special interest lobbyists and onto the needs of the American people. They have made the political party more important than the country. They have forgotten who they represent.
We need legislators that are of the people, by the people and for all the people. They and everyone need to be reminded that we are one nation under God and that we are far stronger united than we are divided. We are the United States of America. I fought against the rages of communism and socialism while in the military. People need to be reminded that the freedoms we treasure and hold so dear, were won by blood, by sweat and by tears.
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?
Having served in the U.S. Air Force for almost 10 years and then subsequently worked in Federal Civil Service for 15 years, I believe the military serves a vital role in Hawaii. Our strategic location is a strong deterrent.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is in a position/location that it has to deal with seven of the largest militaries in the world. It needs the continued support from Congress to be able to conduct operations that deter aggression toward U.S. forces and interests.
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?
Isn’t that the key? Congress essentially has one job to do – pass and approve the budget. And yet, they continue to pass continuing resolution after continuing resolution instead of actually getting to work and balancing the budget. That cannot continue.
We need to decrease the size of governments while continuing to develop opportunity for entrepreneurs through agencies like the Small Business Administration. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economic engine. We need to keep building them up instead of tearing them down.
7. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
Haven’t we been at war for almost 20 years? I think it’s time to be over war and bring our men and women home.
We must be always vigilant and prepared for war, but should only be going to war when we have been attacked (i.e., Pearl Harbor, 9/11).
8. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
The biggest thing we can do is what we do best. Be innovative and look for technological improvements that can make us better. Create cleaner-burning alternative biofuels that can be easily regenerated such as industrial grade hemp. This can then be made into E85, which produces a practically carbonless output.
9. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
I believe that Congress should be held to the same standards and programs that we the people have available. Why does Congress have a separate retirement system? Why do they have a separate medical program?
Hmmm, that needs to change. If we want it fixed, then Congress needs to be on the same retirement programs we are. So yes it is time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but we need to make it better for our kupuna and senior citizens than what they currently receive.
10. What should be done to reform U. S. immigration policies, if anything?
The current U.S. immigration policies like catch and release are seriously flawed. I believe that illegal immigrants should be returned to their home country. They got here illegally. The key word is “illegal.” It’s not “undocumented” or whatever the feel-good buzzword of the day is.
If they wish to legally immigrate into this country, then do so legally, just as the many millions of people have done throughout the history of our great country. If we are going to revise the immigration laws, then we have to make sure they are in the best interests of our people and our country.
11. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
The most important thing to remember about guns and gun control laws is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Should there be background checks? Sure. Why would we want to give a gun to someone that has a mental issue or anger issue or other such circumstances?
The NRA has a great program that takes people through instruction and learning about proper gun usage. We should add onto such programs.
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.
One thing the coronavirus exposed is our over-dependence on tourism. Instead of developing another industry after sugar cane and pineapple, our past state legislators went all in on tourism to the detriment of our state.
As stated previously, I believe that development of industrial grade hemp farms throughout Hawaii and subsequent build-out of smaller bio refineries, would solve three problems.
First we would develop a clean burning, carbonless fuel that would help to resolve our energy issues. We have the best weather on the planet for growing, why not take advantage of it?
Second, our energy would be self-sustaining and we would create a whole new industry. We would need people and farms to grow the hemp and we would create jobs at the mini-bio refineries. We would also need to revamp the current engines for our vehicles and everything else that would require modification to use the new fuel, creating more jobs.
Third, historically, hemp was always used as a rotational crop because it was able to restore nutrients into the ground. Hemp is also a huge carbon vacuum that literally sucks carbon out of the air to improve air quality.
13. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
We need to have legislators in place that work with the president, not against. Our current group has done nothing to support this current president. And he has done a tremendous amount of things to make the U.S. a greater nation – prior to COVID, we had the lowest unemployment in history for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans; we had the highest number of women back in the workforce; over 7 million people off of welfare; revised the tax laws; signed USMCA trade agreement; signed phase 1 of US-China trade agreement; and upgraded a depleted military, all of this without the support of Hawaii’s legislative party or Congress.
Can you imagine what it would have been if either one had been willing to work with him?