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 Roy Takumi, Democratic candidate for state House District 34, which includes Waiau, Pearl City and Pacific Palisades. The other Democratic candidate is Gregg Takayama.

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

Candidate for State House District 34

Roy Takumi
Party Democratic
Age 69
Occupation State legislator
Residence Pearl City, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

House of Representatives, 1992-present.;Hawaii Job Training Coordinating Council; Hawaii P-20 Council; Inter-Agency Council of Immigrant Services; Pearl City Community Association; State Council on Vocational Education.

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

In general, cost of living, traffic, housing, education, kupuna issues, etc., are issues that affect all districts.

This past session was focused on addressing the cost of living and, as a result, the minimum wage increased, and the earned income tax credit was made refundable and permanent. Almost a billion dollars was appropriated for housing, including $600 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

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?

We still have an opportunity to diversify or at a minimum reduce our reliance on tourism. The new regulations on short-term rentals should help.

Our K-12 and higher ed system should reflect the future needs of our community and align itself to better prepare students for the knowledge economy. The fastest-growing occupations in the technology, health and alternative energy fields will require different training and education than what is currently offered.

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?

The gap between rich and poor is getting wider and wider. To help the middle class and working families, we should eliminate the GET on groceries, gas and over-the-counter medicines.

The rich should pay their fair share and should pay more in taxes for absentee homes.  We should also tax real estate investment trusts (REITS).

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?

The lack of Republicans in the Legislature is more of a reflection that voters are not embracing the party of Trump in Hawaii.

As far as ensuring accountability and transparency, this is the responsibility of each individual rather than a political party.

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

In principle, initiative is an attractive concept.  In reality, other states have shown that special interest groups dominated the initiative process.

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?

Elections have a way of imposing term limits, not to mention new people coming in. This year’s election should see 20-25% of the House members being new.

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?

I am open to whatever recommendations the commission makes.

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?

The pandemic provided the opportunity for the Legislature to go virtual and we should continue this practice along with in-person participation. I’m in favor of opening conference committees to the public and stricter disclosure requirements for lobbyists.

Our internal rules should be as open and transparent as possible.

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?

The divisive politics we see across the country have come to Hawaii as well. It seems we cannot disagree without being disagreeable. Without mutual respect and open communication, it will be difficult to come up with common solutions.

That said, I believe that if you bring all the stakeholders together to engage in a process that is open, respectful, and cooperative, more times than not, you will find common ground.

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 invest in early education and develop a universal pre-school system for all 3- and 4-year-olds. All Western democracies and over 40 states in the U.S. invest in their earliest learners.

Research shows that this is the best investment we can make in human capital and it makes sense on many levels — pedagogically, behaviorally, financially.

An Important Note

If you consider nonprofit, independent news to be an essential service that helps keep our community informed, please include Civil Beat among your year-end contributions.

And for those who can, consider supporting us with a monthly gift, which helps keep our content free for those who need it most.

This year, we are making it our goal to raise $225,000 in reader support by December 31, to support our news coverage statewide and throughout the Pacific. Are you ready to help us continue this work?