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 Anna Odom, Republican candidate for state House District 43, which includes Kapolei, Akupu and Makakilo. The other Republican candidate is Kanani Souza.
1. What is the biggest issue facing your district, and what would you do about it?
Crime and road safety are major concerns for District 43. Just recently, more local businesses fell victim to a smash and grab in Kapolei.
We need more programs in schools to help identify students who have what it takes to enter law enforcement upon reaching the age of qualification.
With shortages in every field, it’s important that these officers who train here, work here in these communities for an extended period before taking that training to other states. However, the cost of living makes it even more difficult to stay. Which is another huge issue for the state, not just our district.
Ewa and Waianae need their own stations to help take some of the pressure off of Kapolei. Makakilo only has one, maybe two officers that patrol. Often these officers ticket parked cars but there is no means or presence to stop catalytic converter theft or even enough presence in Kapolei to deter burglary.
Road safety is a big concern as our neighborhood board has gotten nowhere in terms of any road safety improvement on Makakilo Drive.
Speeding is an issue along with no crosswalks, visuals or police presence to curb the bad habits. We need pedestrian activated lights and other visual and pedestrian safety measures in Makakilo.
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 first need to educate tourists who come to our home. The tourism industry along with the means of travel to get here need to work together in this. The first step in changing tourism is to start changing the mindset of the tourist. They need to be made aware of our environmental laws.
We need the relationship between locals and tourists to be a healthy one. The biggest complaint I hear about tourists is how disrespectful to the land and people they are. Let’s change this by making sure those who come here know the most important part of being here: aloha.
Once we have that healthy relationship, tourism will expand in a healthy way. But we need to ease up on the crutch and allow other ways for the economy to flourish. We need to be more self-sustained in food resources. The less we have to import and the more we can export, the better for us and our economy. We need to revisit the Jones Act. If we aren’t paying outrageous shipping fees, these monies go back into our local economy.
All of us should have a say and I would love to hear back from the community on how we can diversify our economy and what is needed from the government to make this happen.
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?
This is such a deep-rooted question. The answers are in all the answers given to the many questions asked of people like myself on any given day. We have to change a lot of things in many different areas to see an overall change that the people can see and feel, sooner not later. There is no one answer to fix it all.
As we try to correct the issues we have faced in a different way, from what we hope from a more conservative Republican perspective, we should start with transparency. Building the connection with the community on a daily basis is our job. We need each and every voice and face etched in our minds. This way when we walk into the Capitol and start making these decisions, those voices and faces are always with us.
Staying connected and transparent is key to rebuilding trust with the communities Representatives serve. Being available and having reviews of our decisions to be sure they meet the requirements without burdening the people is so important. Many decisions are made and despite the poor outcome, are still in place.
We need results that work and we need to acknowledge and fix the ones that have failed.
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 outcome of a lopsided government can be seen daily. We have had Democrats running Hawaii for a very long time and many issues have gotten worse with no end in sight. People lose hope and stop caring. People are forgiving and most like familiarity even if it’s uncomfortable. We have become stuck in a one-way think tank. We have to recondition ourselves to be able to make a different choice.
Then Covid-19 really shined a light on our issues. The same old same old will not get us out of this. What we hope for is true representation of our districts. Conversation back in our state Capitol and an exchange of ideas is what will move us forward, not an echo chamber. I for one love the idea of working with those who see things differently and working together to make our islands great for all of us without compromising conservative values or our constitutional rights.
5. 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 know many people have spoken about term limits but then every election cycle these same people are once again voted into office. As I mentioned, there are many variables to why people vote the same every election. There is a system in place to prevent the cycle.
We need more people investing and voting in the primaries. This is when we the people decide who in our parties will run on the general election ballot. The power is in our votes but with all the conversation surrounding term limits I think it should be something we vote on and let the majority speak on that.
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 or banning campaign contributions during session?
I believe everything we do must be something we have to answer for. If we move in a way knowing it’s all out in front for people to see, good honest people will want these positions to do good and not use our positions when elected for personal and financial gain at the expense of the rest of us.
7. 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?
Everything we do should be accessible. We need to look over our current laws and fix loopholes that allow for less transparency and accountability.
8. 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?
We need more conversations. Right now one set of voices feels left out. We need to know our concerns and voices are heard and we all can feel like our issues are being handled within the confines of our constitutional rights.
However, the only real way to appease everyone is that we have choices. More choices come from smaller government and less government interference.
9. 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.
The biggest thing we need here right now is financial relief. Big government relief and more opportunities for local growth.
Revisit the Jones Act and help release us from high shipping costs for everything exported here.
We need a full financial audit to stop the wasting of money.
Parents should be leaders in their child’s education and have options that meet their child’s educational needs.
Get the rail running and start recouping the loss from it not being functional and poor design planning.
Hawaii used to lead in innovation and now we follow behind mega-liberal California. We need to stop looking to the mainland for solutions and look here to the people and what we need and find a course to get us on a better path.
We have a lot of work to do. Vote in Anna Odom to have this clear mindset leading the way for a greater Hawaii.
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