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 True St. Thomas, Republican candidate for state Senate District 10, which includes Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Kaimuki, Kapahulu and St. Louis Heights. The other Republican candidate is Leilani Soon.

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

Candidate for State Senate District 10

True St. Thomas
Party Republican
Age 37
Occupation IT Engineer
Residence Kahala

Community organizations/prior offices held

Elks 616 member.

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

District 10 is likely most concerned with rising costs of living. Propose and persuade state officers to adjust tax policies which incentivize better use of residential real estate, maturing capital in local banks.

Also provide key information for effective energy policy and infrastructure development policy. Allocating extra funds to community development projects.

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 sharing the natural assets of the Hawaiian Islands with the world within reach in exchange for good resources that sustain the people and the comfortable habitat. Policymaking which uses our local work force to enhance Hawaii’s natural resources is good for the land, people and our trade system.

Farming, fishing, water and natural environment development need to be heavily invested in and a clear plan for development charted. I will propose and persuade officials to stand behind a plan to a develop natural resources.

3. 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 residents have many challenges to deal with, living on Oahu especially, but this is true for all the islands. The state needs to sponsor a labor force initiative, where any member can work at their leisure at the jobs listed in the system.

Rather than assisting our people with finding a new job process allow them to select a job to participate in on their schedule at fixed rates. This could be complemented with labor force residential areas and facilities.

4. Hawaii has the most lopsided Legislature in the country, with only one Republican in the Senate and only four in the House. How would you ensure there is an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability for decisions? What do you see as the consequences of one-party control, and how would you address that?

I see the lack of balance in the government as a serious concern and the concerns, including idea exchange, transparency and accountability could all be addressed in one easy step. Adding the voter name to the ballot will allow any party to confirm the validity of the ballot by confirming the validity of the voter. Once this occurs elections will reflect the voters’ choice. As of right now there is no connection from the voter to the ballot, which makes proxy voting unverifiable.

If the will of the voters is to continue in the current or any direction, I will support it; once there is a link to the voter on the vote which they cast.

5. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process? 

I do support this process but also recognize there would need to be veto options based upon incompleteness of the proposed actions and/or lack of substantial relevance to stated concerns/feasibility.

6. Thanks to their campaign war chests and name familiarity, incumbents are almost always re-elected in Hawaii legislative races. Should there be term limits for state legislators, as there are for the governor’s office and county councils? Why or why not?

I would propose a rating system which would be public for public officials. Extended terms would only be allowed to highly rated officials.

Financial incentives would also be allowed for high scores and low scores would and could likely limit compensation of officials to a base pay and force a limited term.

7. 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 or banning campaign contributions during session?

Corruption is a concern which has been in politics at every level for far too long. There needs to be a compensation tier system that forces low-scoring officials out with low pay, and high scores stay in with large bonuses. This will incentivize officials to act in the best interest of their voters to keep their positions and gain the bonuses from good scores.

8. How would you make the Legislature more transparent and accessible to the public? Opening conference committees to the public? Stricter disclosure requirements on lobbying and lobbyists? How could the Legislature change its own internal rules to be more open?

I would propose and persuade the state to adopt a tier-based compensation plan for officials where the public rates their performance. High scores stay in office with large bonuses and low scores are forced out with base compensation.

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

Provide special development projects and proposals to help all of Hawaii’s residents to enjoy their life more completely. I would also introduce legislation which restricts political discrimination and rewards private companies and media outlets who actively promote anti-political discrimination messages.

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 would like to focus on infrastructure. Looking at the land from atop a mountain, it is clear the habitable terrain is completely consumed by real estate. Reintegrating the natural environment into Hawaii’s buildings, cities and residential areas would be a gift to the people and the natural life which has been largely lost.

There should be tax benefits for residents with natural environment on their property, and tax cuts for real estate development projects which intelligently integrate the natural environment into their designs. Provide legal protection for businesses against claims brought through interaction with natural environment interactions.

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