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 Inam Rahman, Democratic candidate for state House District 35, which includes Pearl City, Waipahu and Crestview. The other Democratic candidates are Cory Chun, Jolyn Priete and Nathan Takeuchi.

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 35

Inam Rahman
Party Democratic
Occupation Medical doctor, small businessman
Residence Waipahu, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

President, Hawaii Medical Association; member, National Advisory Committee on Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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

There are many issues in my House District 35 such as crime, sidewalk repairs, theft, noise and illegal fireworks, but the most important issue is speed driving.

Some of the voters want stop signs and more police surveillance. However, most of the voters are asking for speed bumps. I have started to address this issue as well as other issues by contacting appropriate authorities.

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 know tourism is important for us because we offer beautiful weather, beaches and warm aloha. However, sole dependence on tourism has caused us more grief during calamities such as 9/11 and Covid.

I believe we should:

— Promote smart tourism and also make sure we provide the best experience to tourists by providing a clean and safe environment.

— Look for additional sources of income such as promoting our local products and using renewable energy such as solar, geothermal and wind energy.

— Bring in more of the high-tech industry.

— Make it easier for small businesses to do business, which in turn will create more jobs and boost our economy.

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?

If you look at an economy chart, the gap between wealth and wages has continued to widen since the Nixon shock of 1971. Therefore, no matter how much money the middle class makes, it is not enough to pay for the essential expenses of housing, food, clothing, health insurance and taxes. This trend will continue to get worse as long as paper money is being printed without the gold standard.

If I get elected, I will work with our congressmen to resolve this issue.

In addition, I will work on making the laws to provide affordable housing with government-subsidized loans where possible.

I will produce bills to stop price-gouging of prescription drugs and supplies, utilities such as gas, which has doubled within a few months, and food.

I will introduce bills to support small business and to make it easier for them to do business. I will also introduce bills to ensure that care homes and nursing homes are paid fairly to prevent them from closing down.

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 believe if we think of working for people and think of what is best for people who have elected us, we will do well.

I believe there are more Democrats in the Hawaii Legislature because Democrats follow diversity and unfortunately many Republicans follow mainland politics, which is strictly on party line instead of what is best for people.

I will address this issue by being an example of always working for the people.

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, there should be term limits in the state House and state Senate. An experienced state House representative can run for an open Senate seat and senators can run for any of the open seats of council, mayor, lieutenant governor or governor after their term limits.

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 support all the propositions suggested by Civil Beat in this question. I also strongly supported a recently passed law about mandatory ethical training for all government employees, including legislators.

I worked as an emergency room doctor at the U.S. Veterans Hospital for four years. All the employees received mandatory ethical training. It worked very well and kept everyone honest and ethical.

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 will introduce a bill which will require easily accessible disclosure of who produced the bill, who supported, who opposed, who lobbied for it and on whose behalf, as well as how it will benefit the public.

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?

I believe if we focus on the fact that we are working for the people who elected us and respect each other’s opinions we can not only bridge these gaps but make better laws.

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.

Plan in advance, be prepared, and have experienced and knowledgeable advisors. The plan should also include the impact of health care decisions on the economy, education and safety  of people.

If I get elected I will introduce bills to form advisory committees on health, the economy, the environment and safety, which will include experts experienced in respective fields.

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