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 Angela Young, nonpartisan candidate for state Senate District 14, which includes Kalihi, Fort Shafter and Moanalua.

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 14

Angela Young
Party Nonpartisan
Age 31
Occupation Community advocate and activist
Residence Kalihi, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

ROAR (Rescue Of Animal Rights); CARES (Community And Relationship Exchange Services); ADD Productions (Aloha Divine Design); Kapalama Neighborhood Security Watch.

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

I’d like to share a personal neighbor’s story so that you might really get to know the constituents who are in need of protection. My 7-year-old neighbor recently started taking kung fu classes. I thought it was for fun. I asked her, “Why did you choose kung fu? Of all the classes you could’ve chosen, dance, hip hop, or ukelele classes, why did you choose kung fu?” She replied, “I didn’t choose to take kung fu class. My mom signed me up for the kung fu class because she says there are bad guys in the neighborhood.”

Let the impact of that statement sink in.

This past year, the City Council and HPD District 5 Community Policing Team assisted our neighborhood with initiating the Kapalama Neighborhood Security Watch. Our group felt safe and assured because our safety concerns were heard by the elected officials, HPD, community and board members. I, along with a team of neighbors, worked with the City Council and HPD to ensure we got essential safety resources to the community.

Safety is the biggest concern facing our communities and I have not theorized about what I will do about it, but I have actually done things to protect our ohana and keiki. I promise that if I’m elected, I will continue to prioritize safety and domestic tranquility.

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?

Our state has to stop relying heavily upon tourism because it contradicts the efforts to maintain and preserve our unique Hawaiian culture. If we want to protect our indigenous plants and wildlife, if we want to conserve our aina Hawaii heritage, we must put a limit on tourism.

Not every aspect of tourism is bad, but as of right now, we are too dependent upon tourism as a main source of revenue for the state. And if we want to also prioritize the preservation of our aina and our culture, we will have to look for alternative options to diversify 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?

Autonomous markets are great options to be explored by middle-class families. An example of an autonomous market is a farmer’s market where people trade or sell their fruits, vegetables, crafts and homemade goods. We see more of these markets now, as art, flea and farmers markets become a trend in Hawaii.

Creating these markets allows people to operate within their own means without having to outsource labor, look for investors or use corporate money. People create value with what they have instead of putting value into stocks or investments. People depend on the land and their skills for these autonomous markets. More markets in which people can create opportunities for themselves without depending on banks and corporate financial institutions will help to shape a healthier and better economic system for our city.

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?

When a party is wealthy and generous and has many prominent members, their influence and power will be great among the people and the state. They host a variety of political events and provide various resources to the state and its constituents. Yet, their influence is great because perhaps, there is currently legislation limiting their power.

I would be open to getting into a discussion about setting limits on that party. My intention is not to control the party but to prevent corruption. I hope the party and the state can work together to minimize corruption. The party’s resources and the party’s work is much appreciated, but their wealth and contribution should not be influencing decisions affecting the state. Also, the party’s prominence should not be shaping the narratives of the legislators.

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

I support the initiative process because in California, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times, “The power of California’s initiative process ensures voters and legislators both have their hands on the state government’s steering wheel.”

If the initiative process creates an opportunity for citizens to get even more involved in the political process and civic engagement, then it should be considered by the State of Hawaii.

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?

It may not be necessary to put term limits upon these offices because if someone new rises up from the community and is a true advocate, he or she will be able to generate enough interest to win the race. And therefore, the term limit upon the incumbent is not necessary.

Term limits can create a negative effect. For example, a great legislator who has worked hard in the community is running again for the fifth term. He or she will not get to continue to do the work they do for the community if they are no longer in office.

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?

To address corruption, I recommend reading “United States Strategy on Countering Corruption.” It was published in December 2021 to address corruption at the federal level. I think our state will have to look at the federal precedence and how they are implementing initiatives to counter corruption in order to find effective strategies to address this problem. This publication is comprehensive in providing solutions to corruption.

Strategy announced by the White House has five so-called “pillars”:

— Modernizing, coordinating and resourcing the U.S. government efforts to better fight corruption.

— Curbing illicit finance.

— Holding corrupt actors accountable.

— Preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture.

— Improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to advance policy objectives.

Hawaii can start with pillar 1’s objectives, developing corruption-related research and data collection. It is important to understand what are the variables and factors contributing to the corruption within our state. With this strategy, we can then tailor prevention and enforcement-related actions.

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?

One thing I would love to see happen to create more transparency in politics is to create educational campaigns about the Legislature’s efforts, especially during the legislative sessions. By helping the general public to disseminate technical information, legal vocabulary and the due process of policymaking, the people will get more opportunities to truly understand the process that goes on at the state Capitol.

I think what people commonly mistake as a transparency or accessibility concern is really an educational concern.

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 government did what it had to do to protect the health of its citizens. I was in China in 2020 when the pandemic started. I was at the heart of the pandemic disaster and it was truly an incredible experience to have lived through two nations’ regulations because they were dramatically different in how they mandated their policies.

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.

Homelessness is one of the most critical and challenging issues facing Hawaii because our land capacity is limited as we are an island. And addiction goes hand in hand with homelessness as we see many homeless live in cycles of drinking and substance abuse.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi approaches homelessness from a brand new perspective. Since he’s been in office, he’s implemented a new strategy, CORE (Crisis Outreach Response Engagement). With the previous mayors, homeless people were handled by HPD, or law enforcement. HPD would perform “compassionate disruptions,” also known as homeless sweeps, as a strategy to manage the homeless people. They would try to get the homeless into shelters and the streets cleaned up, but with little to no success.

CORE employs a team of social workers, medical professionals and trained mental health service providers to respond to homeless concerns. CORE is modeled after STAR (Support Team Assistance Response) from Denver. Data from STAR shows that within the first six months of operation, STAR responded to 748 homeless calls, none of which needed police or law enforcement.

If I get elected, I will work on researching and drafting legislation to support CORE and similar initiatives to create real and lasting change for the homeless people. Helping the homeless people get medical attention and advocating for mental health will create safer communities.

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?