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 Steve Tataii, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. The other Democratic candidate is Brian Schatz.

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

Candidate for U.S. Senate

Steve Tataii
Party Democratic
Age 72
Occupation Independent conflict resolution consultant 
Residence Honolulu

Community organizations/prior offices held

Vocational specialist advisor, Waiawa Correctional; candidate for state House in 1988 and 1990, and U.S. House in 1992, 2002 and 2008.

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

High cost of living, which has created homelessness problems. More than half of violent crimes are drug related. Our traffic is the worst in the country second only to Los Angeles. We have to increase our low wages, and finally, we need to take better care of our native species.

What to do about high cost of living? We need more affordable housing to begin with, and use alternative energy solutions such as solar, wind power, electric vehicles, etc.

2. What can the U.S. Congress do about mass shootings in America? Would you support banning military-style assault weapons and establishing universal background checks? What other measures would you propose to reduce gun violence?

I support commonsense reforms to recent gun violence to make Americans safer.

We must keep dangerous weapons off our streets, improve our background check system, make sure the mentally ill receive the treatment they need, and provide schools the required resources to keep our children secure. We can’t take hatred out of hearts, but we can do more to keep deadly weapons out of hateful hands.

3. The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the questions of whether the 2020 election was stolen have shown how seriously divided the nation is. Some say democracy itself is in trouble. How would you work to end the political polarization that divides both the Congress and the country?

The signs of polarization are evident on both ends of the political spectrum, though the trajectory, nature and extent differ from left to right. With Barack Obama in the White house, partisan antipathy was more pronounced among Republicans.

Overall, more Republicans than Democrats see the opposing party’s policies as a threat and the differences are even greater when ideology is taken into account. This is a new trend that requires some sort of mandatory teaching in sessions to stabilize, conducted by experts.

4. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while currently financially sound, risk future funding concerns because of changing demographics. What would you propose to shore up the country’s major safety net programs?

I have some useful ideas, which will be shared while taking my seat in the Senate, but let me just say that there is no better time than the present to rethink our societal effort to serve the economically, socially, and developmentally vulnerable in America than the moment when we celebrate our country’s independence.

5. What is your position on the Senate filibuster?

The Senate has a number of options for curtailing the use of the filibuster, including by setting a new precedent, changing the rule itself, or placing restrictions on its use.

6. Is the U.S. on the right path when it comes to mitigating climate change and growing renewable energy production? What specific things should Congress be considering?

We are slowly picking up pace, but more needs to be done to get there with innovation and cooperation.

7. The Jones Act requires that domestic freight transport on U.S. waterways be conducted by crews that are at least three-fourths American, and on vessels built in U.S. shipyards, and that are American-owned. What is your position on this law and its effects on Hawaii? Does it need to be amended or repealed?

My position on the Jones Act has not changed from previous candidacy days. We still need to revisit all the aspects of the Jones Act from its 1920 history till now, and make sure any possible revision would not lessen its benefits and risk our national security.

8. The Biden administration says China is the greatest long-term threat to the U.S. and has been trying to expand its influence, especially in the Pacific. What can the U.S. do to build better relations with the Asia-Pacific region?

A well-balanced economic relationship as long as it will not overpower our healthy and strong economy.

9. The Red Hill fuel crisis illustrated not only how critical the military’s role is in Hawaii but also the serious problems it sometimes causes. It is also a central component of the local economy. What would you do to ensure the military behaves responsibly in the islands? 

We need to continue working closely with the military and if what has already been done is not fixing the problem, we have to consider further investigations, sampling, and most of all studying the blueprints of the main water pipeline’s history.

We should also hire more exports with the knowledge in similar dilemmas from wherever they are.

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 believe we should continue doing what our leaders have so far asked us to do in a consistent and responsible manner, hoping the threat will soon subside and diminish.

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