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 Moses Paskowitz, Republican candidate for governor. The other Republican candidates are Duke Aiona, Gary Cordery, George Hawat, Keline Kahau, Lynn Mariano, Paul Morgan, 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

Moses Paskowitz
Party Republican
Age 57
Occupation Real estate agent
Residence Makaha, Oahu

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

Oh My God! The biggest issue is as clear as day, and common sense needs to prevail in dealing with our homeless, not our houseless problem.

As we are an island, we need to ensure that our local residents, starting with Hawaiians, have a home. If I’m elected, I will establish a six-month period for any unhoused nonresident or guest to leave the islands. During that time, we will ensure that every lawful and legal resident is able to obtain housing.

We must have somewhere for them to go. We will not allow our kapuna and keiki to live on a beach or the bushes.

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?

Tourism is the backbone of our economy; however, we need to expand the body of tourism to develop more opportunities for locals by investing in our human resources, such as training for customer service, management and related skills.

By reducing the involvement of our local government and removing unnecessary regulations, we need to enable new industries, such as technology, agriculture, energy and many others to grow.

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?

Before any new spending is undertaken, we need to perform comprehensive audits of every departmental budget to find out where the funds have been going for the past decade.

We know that we have corruption and mismanagement by our politicians; for example with the rail, so we need to address this before any new spending.

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? 

Hawaii’s residents are struggling to make ends meet because of monopolies and overregulation by our state and local government agencies. Some concrete steps would include working with our congressional delegation to remove the Jones Act, which will increase the availability of goods and materials at much lower cost and provide competitive alternatives to current bottlenecks in energy, shipping and government regulations.

Additionally, we need to increase the availability of our labor resources by increasing the minimum wage.  How great would it be if Hawaii had the highest minimum wage in the nation?

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?

DOE needs to be audited to determine why our schools are ranked last in the nation despite spending per pupil being in the top one-half of all states. It’s clear that our taxpayers deserve more choices for their children, such as charter schools, school vouchers, and more input in the way their children are taught.

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 at the Legislature? Are you open to ideas such as requiring the Sunshine Law and open records laws to apply to the Legislature?

Corruption is a serious issue that is just starting to be addressed by the federal government, as you can see through the recent trials and arrests of politicians and public servants at all levels of Hawaii’s government. I believe that we need to hold our officials accountable, so if you do the crime, you will go to jail!

Not only do we need Sunshine Laws, but we also need to establish clear objectives and metrics to hold our lawmakers accountable when the laws they pass do not achieve the stated outcomes. For too long, our politicians have been elected over and over without having to answer for their policy failures.

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? 

Climate Change, whether believed or not, affects each of us individually. I believe that the local government should have clear guidelines and resources available to help the individual homeowner preserve and protect their property.

Currently, there is a great deal of ambiguity and confusion about what is best for all; therefore, we need to focus on empowering the individual to make the decision that is best for them and their families.

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?

The growing division in Hawaii is because the people do not feel connected to their politicians. The pandemic revealed an astonishing lack of preparation by our local government, ranging from the incompetence of the Health Department to the unemployment office not being prepared to address the public’s needs during an emergency.

We need to restore the responsibility of our communities by ensuring that their vote counts!

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

For too long, the politicians have acted on behalf of special interests and paid token attention to the voters. All officials must be able to voice their concerns and ideas as well as advocate what their community needs are. If I am elected as your governor, my job will be to listen to all sides of the aisle in order to make the best decision on behalf of the peoples of Hawaii.

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.

The pandemic revealed that our politicians have been asleep at the wheel for too long and have focused on the present rather than the future. We do not need to reinvent Hawaii; we need to rediscover the values of our Hawaiian kingdom that brought us together in the first place. It is critical that we bring everyone together to rebuild Hawaii for the future.

We need to take new approaches, such as enabling text-based voting, to enable local communities to take charge of their daily lives rapidly and transparently. We need to take back the power of the local governments and bring them directly to the residents so they can make the decisions to address the issues that affect them every day.

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