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 Andrew Sexton, Aloha Aina Party candidate for state House District 24, which includes Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa and Manoa. The other candidate is Democrat Della Au Belatti.
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. In the beginning when the virus came about, the state and federal governments should’ve gotten the first responders tested and made procedures. Come up with a game plan that adheres to the problem. Allocated money to the right places like unemployment. Opening up the state would have been faster.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
Evaluate the the budget of each state department. Cut overspending after the analyzation is done. Pass legislative laws to protect the process.
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
We need to build diversified, renewable programs for sustainability in Hawaii. Build educational programs for schools, vocational training for adults and get unions involved with training also.
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?
No, not satisfied. I would have to analyze the structure that is currently being used, then restructure the benefits with legislative bodies. No, I would not support reductions in benefits.
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?
Government leaders were not giving a lot of information about COVID-19. Gov. Ige tried to do the best he was capable of doing with the resources given.
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?
It is a very important issue. We need reform, continuous education and mock training for police. Also cross training with the sheriffs and Hawaii National Guard. Yes, I support police reform efforts.
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?
Disagree. We should have it digitally available.
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 state should work with the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency to help with policies. Being a Native Hawaiian, it is a very important issue to me.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Homelessness. People should contact agencies such as the DHHL , Department of Health, City Council and community centers for programs to help out.
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.
Sustainable energy. Add more recycling plants.