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 Tae Kim, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. The other Republican candidates are Rob Burns and Seaula Tupa’i.

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

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Tae Kim
Party Republican
Age 56
Occupation Attorney
Residence Honolulu

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

I believe the biggest issue facing Hawaii is “same old same old” life-long and established lawmakers serving and preserving self-interest rather than serving the needs of the people of Hawaii.

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?

For a tourism-driven economy, we do little or nothing to invite tourists; rather, tourists leave with disappointments and (as) victims of crimes. We must promote our kamaainas to be more inviting to our visitors. We must also invest in private-public partnership in solar energy and be less dependent on all the imported fossil fuel. Why are we powering our electric cars with oil from places like Russia?

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?

There are so many needed issues in Hawaii, everything from affordable housing, homelessness, health care and public safety. We can’t address these issues without means to pay for them. We can’t wait for federal government handouts and we cannot continue to overburden our residents by increasing taxes.

We must explore solar energy industry to invest in Hawaii, to manufacture solar panels and all things solar-related. We must also invite plans for gaming in Hawaii.

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?

Again, we need the means to provide for the assistance. We can and must be energy-independent, and gaming will bring billions of dollars to the state.

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?

One idea would be to have a trial of subregions; however, appropriating fair funding would be an issue and we need the means to execute them.

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?

Term limits. In a perfect world, legislators will serve and leave; however, in the current world, we do need transparency and open records law applying to all public office holders and appointed commissions. Why do we wait for indictments?

7. 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 State of Hawaii is 63 years old and the Democrats continue to control 95% of the state Capitol. Why is there the issue of division if you’re all one party? This is a clear indication that the lawmakers are not wanting or needing change. Why change a good thing that works for them?

We must have more balance of power in our state Capital. People are both complacent and too lazy to demand change. All public office-holders must be accountable for their actions or inactions.

8. The office of lieutenant governor has few official duties and is often viewed as irrelevant. But some LGs have managed to play a significant role in government. What would you do to make the office more productive?

The lieutenant governor is not appointed or selected by the governor. Lieutenant governor is an independent public office elected by the people. As the secretary for the State of Hawaii, I will record and report every issue that concerns the people of Hawaii to the people of Hawaii, and relate the people’s concerns back to our lawmakers.

9. Sometimes Hawaii governors and lieutenant governors have not gotten along very well, and those disputes have spilled into the public realm. How important is it for you to be on the same page as the governor, and how will you handle disagreements on policy.

I will always answer to the people first and last. Any disagreements will be publicly addressed.

I will not be seeking a second term and I will not be seeking the office of governor. I will serve one term and use the voice that people have given me to give the people their voice. Every elected office belongs to the people. It’s not about securing your political position or self-entitlement, it’s about public service.

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.

I will promote more remote learning and communicating with the people through increased use of our technology, i.e. Zoom communications accessible to all people by having remote stations across the state, including public libraries and community centers. People must be informed and engaged in everything that concerns our community.

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