Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 Primary 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 Gary Cordery, Republican candidate for governor. The other Republican candidates are Duke Aiona, George Hawat, Keline Kahau, Lynn Mariano, Paul Morgan, Moses Paskowitz, BJ Penn, Heidi Tsuneyoshi and Walter Woods.

Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Candidate for Governor

Gary Cordery
Party Republican
Age 62
Occupation Owner/ RME, Kingdom Builders in Hawaii
Residence Kailua, Hawaii


Community organizations/prior offices held

None provided.

1. What is the biggest issue facing Hawaii, and what would you do about it?

There are several issues facing Hawaii which require immediate attention. But to narrow it down to one underlying issue that affects all others, it is corruption. We will do the following and initiate others for implementation as soon as possible:

We will nominate an attorney general who upholds the constitutional rights of the citizens and who will demand the prosecution of crime. We will open a nonpartisan “Office of Corruption” that will coordinate with the attorney general. The newly established “Office of Corruption” will not be under the purview of the attorney general’s oversight. This office will focus on governmental and political corruption and will engage the FBI in their federal and state capacities. This issue of corruption will be eradicated as we establish equal justice in all sectors of the state.

2. Many people have talked about diversifying the local economy for many years now, and yet Hawaii is still heavily reliant on tourism. What, if anything, should be done differently about tourism and the economy?

A primary missing piece in the diversification of our local economy is our long, lost agriculture business. Through common-sense DLNR and DOH policy changes, we will re-establish dairy, poultry, beef and produce industries locally across the islands. Changes in policy that would kick-start and support local agriculture include changes in land use, regulatory constraints, the removal of GET on food and medicine, and a nonprofit transportation of commodities.

We will also recruit public/private partnerships to bring high-tech industry to Hawaii. To further support and solidify agriculture businesses in our economic diversification, we will begin scalable desalination. This will provide water resources to develop lands that are constrained by the lack of natural resources.

3. The Legislature this session approved spending $600 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands plus another $300 million for other housing programs. What specifically would you try to do to create more housing for middle- and low-income residents?

We will see if these commitments are ever funded into actual programs, but I believe addressing the fact that these are leased lands is the real underlying long-term solution. Hawaiian people must own their land; paving the way for wealth creation, legacy properties and self-motivation for individual families. I will promote that the main stakeholders should agree and underwrite much of the development costs related to these lands and the Hawaiian people.

Housing shortages are a product of bad housing policy. DLNR and DOH will allocate additional lands and address regulations for development, however, this must not be government housing or subsidized through tax credits. In correcting fees, proper regulation, shipping charges and a competitive market-driven housing industry will self-correct the issue.

Finally, the military must develop its own housing solutions on federal lands, and no longer should the private housing market be required to absorb the housing needs of the military. The housing allowance is driving the cost of available rentals out of reach for the average citizen.

4. An estimated 60% of Hawaii residents are struggling to get by, a problem that reaches far beyond low income and into the middle class, which is disappearing. What ideas do you have to help the middle class and working families who are finding it hard to continue to live here?

The people are being crushed by the ever-increasing size and scope of government, and with this sizeable growth are ever-increasing taxes of all types: regulations that constrain businesses, social programs without a work requirement component, and medical services reaching all-time highs.

We will shrink the government through retirement, lower taxes and regulations, remove GET from food and on medical family practitioners, push for the removal of the Jones Act in Hawaii, create locally grown and provided agricultural products, and create opportunities for small businesses to actually be profitable.

5. The pandemic was particularly difficult for Hawaii’s public schools. Should there be a change in the way schools are administered? Would you support more local control including breaking the single school district into subregions?

Yes, we need a constitutional amendment to once again allow parents back into the curriculum decision-making process. The school system must be decentralized, allowing for county-run school budgets and thereby establishing their own priorities. There should also be school vouchers where the financial resources follow the student.

6. Hawaii has recently experienced a number of prominent corruption scandals, prompting the state House of Representatives to appoint a commission tasked with improving government transparency through ethics and lobbying reforms. What will you do to ensure accountability in the Legislature? Are you open to ideas such as requiring the Sunshine Law and open records laws to apply to the Legislature?

We will promote the election of a nonpartisan ethics commission to investigate and forward complaints to an independent office for accountability and transparency. This includes both private entities and public agencies of government.

We will aggressively prosecute all forms of corruption. We will make public all aspects of government spending including the representatives who add to bill amendments without oversight.

7. Recently a house on the North Shore of Oahu fell into the ocean. Climate change is real and will force us to make tough decisions. What is the first thing Hawaii should do to get in front of climate change rather than just reacting to it?

DLNR must make common-sense changes to shoreline policies, allowing its citizens to manage their properties. Empirical data shall be reviewed to assess changes in our environment. Resources collected by the state through fees and assessment must be applied to their actual justification for such funds. No longer shall these resources be deposited into the “general fund.”

8. Hawaii has seen a growing division when it comes to politics, development, health mandates, and other issues. A governor represents all the people of the state. What would you do to bridge those gaps and bring people together in spite of their differences?

This is in essence good government: “bringing people together.” I will initiate policies for all the people. Leadership requires the humility to listen and reason together. Currently, we do not have this! If serving the people is the purpose of government, then we will find common ground for the people. I will listen and embrace wisdom from all sources.

9. Historically, governors and lieutenant governors have sometimes publicly clashed. How do you envision the relationship between the state’s top elected officials?

Service in leadership to our people as governor and alongside many other elected officials would highlight the foundational principle for all relationships: working together for the people rather than personal agenda.

I will listen and we will determine where the lieutenant governor has experience, passion, and commitment. Service in humility keeps the people in the forefront and elected officials working toward a common goal.

10. 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.

This may seem rudimentary but Hawaii needs wisdom; the wisdom to look beyond what has been routine government decisions and exchange them for solutions that function at a high level and at a low cost. There are numerous examples nationally and globally.

To implement such considerations, we need to allow the private market, ingenuity and innovation to be welcomed into the state. We must end the constraints of corruption, which protect market share. We must embrace new energy policies, interrupt health care and insurance monopolies, and level the playing field for private providers. We must have access to all health care options and information.

We must bring desalination and water purification to our islands, agriculture back to Hawaii to fill our markets with locally grown products, and finally provide equal justice to all people, creating a safe and secure place to live and establish our ohana.

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