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 Theodene Allen, Republican candidate for state House District 34, which includes Waiau, Pearl City and Pacific Palisades.

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

Theodene Allen
Party Republican
Age 45
Occupation Retail administration
Residence Pearl City, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

None provided.

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

The biggest issue facing the Pearl City community is crime. I want to educate and encourage the Neighborhood Safety Watch system throughout the community.

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 great for the economy. Hawaii needs to be more self-sustaining to not require everything to be shipped in. Also, encouraging support of local small businesses will benefit local families.

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?

With the current issues with petroleum rates increasing and inflation, this is affecting everyone in Hawaii. I want to get the Jones Act waived in the islands to help curb the extra costs of shipping because the majority of our consumables are imported.

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?

Being a good listener and researcher of the important topics that concern the people, I will continue to have an open dialogue with the constituents in the district through various communication methods, online and in person.

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

No.

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?

Yes, I believe there should be term limits. Incumbents become complacent.

Term limits will allow other individuals to take part in the legislative process, bringing new ideas and new possibilities.

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?

Accountability is important everywhere. To ensure accountability at the Legislature, it would be helpful to have checks and balances within the state Capitol, whether it’s having accountability partners or having committees to audit each other.

I am open to the Sunshine Law and open records laws applying to the Legislature and banning campaign contributions during session.

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 plan to openly provide what’s happening within the Legislature via a newsletter and potentially social media platforms. Transparency is important for constituents to feel comfortable with choices that are being made. Opening conference committees to the public for a limited time could benefit the progress with new ideas and suggestions.

The Legislature as a whole should be more open and transparent. In order to do this, the issues being presented and discussed should be available in advance for the constituents. There should be an open discussion between each legislator and their constituents regarding their ideas.

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?

There has been a huge gap created these last couple years. In order to bridge that gap, it should be normalized that people can make their own decisions. Let each individual or family be totally fine regardless of their decision.

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.

If I could reinvent Hawaii, I would encourage focus on faith and family first. As a result, I would bring prayer back in schools.

One Big Idea is for communities to create their own backyard trading where one family might grow mango and green peppers and trade with another family that might have lychee and taro. This will create a more cohesive community and when people get to know each other, they’ll be more likely to be supportive and crime in the area should likely decrease as everyone knows everyone.

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