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 David Alcos, Republican candidate for state House District 41, which includes Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ewa Villages, Hoakalei and Ocean Pointe. The other candidate is Democrat Matt LoPresti.
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?
Besides keeping close tabs on COVID-19 statistics, no one has addressed how we will bring visitors in a virus-free environment. Pre-arrival testing is not 100% effective. We must protect our Hawaii residents.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
Review the budget and figure out what we need instead of what we want.
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
Implement more food production. Use agriculture to supply both residents and visitors.
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?
This is something we need to know more about. But I understand that we need more money in Hawaii to survive, so there should not be any income being taken away.
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?
We need to find a way to bring back the economy while keeping our residents safe. We needed stronger guidelines for visitors. We need to make sure of sufficient personal protective equipment and that our COVID-19 case numbers are going down in our state and communities.
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?
Everyone should be treated equally. Thankfully, there is not as much discrimination against people of color in Hawaii as in other states. But I do believe that our focus should be on what is happening here and what we can do improve situation. I also believe that to move forward we need to ensure the safety of our people and officers.
7. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
It is a possibility that this will bring the government closer to the people. Before we decide on such a thing, we need to go over the pros and cons of our current form of government where elect officials who act on our behalf make laws instead of a direct initiative approach where citizens can vote directly on new laws.
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 disagree with his action to open government laws. We need more transparency during this pandemic.
I would create a small communications group to review as well as update the public through video-conferencing and access to detailed information on the internet.
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?
We definitely should address this proactively and team up with agricultural practitioners, various organizations and groups to better understand our local ecosystem. Although, right now our people need jobs, shelter, safety and security.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
In Ewa, our traffic and overcrowding of our schools are a major issue. We were a small community and it is growing now more than ever.
Our roads and schools can’t keep up with the amount of housing development that is going on. Before the development, they should have built the infrastructures first. But now, we must build bigger roads or alternate routes and more classrooms.
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.
First off, I believe projects and development have to show mass importance to the community. The people should not have to be pressured into seeing benefits. From the start, the ideas should come from the community.
Also, the honest truth is that Hawaii is one of the most expensive states to live in. I would build an economy where our people only need one working job to make enough for a living. Housing should be affordable.
We live in a place that should be paradise for the people that live here, not breaking our backs and losing sleep more than we should to survive and feed our families. A possibility to contribute to that happening would be by providing efficient education and job-training opportunities for our young generations.