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 Joe Webster, Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. The other Republican candidate is Joe Akana.

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

Candidate for 2nd Congressional District

Joe Webster
Party Republican
Age 48
Occupation Business owner and consultant 
Residence Kailua-Kona, Hawaii island


Community organizations/prior offices held

None provided.

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

Housing. We can start with the low hanging fruit and get Hawaiians their homestead lands as promised.

There is no good reason why a homestead parcel needs to have a $400,000-plus home built on it when modular/prefabricated homes are fractions of the cost. 200,000 acres and 28,000 people on the wait-list. Why?

Tiny homes, modular homes – these are good solutions for a lot of folks. Instead, we have folks living in their cars (and on top of their food trucks).

By the way, our government paying to ship work-at-home folks from the mainland to live in Hawaii wasn’t well thought out.

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 hate that this is a thing. My son was at Millard South School when it was shot up by a deranged and angry student with a history of problems.

That student was able to obtain a gun from his father who (in my opinion) should have had that gun locked up safe.

Assault weapons: Common sense tells us an 18-year-old kid has no need for an assault weapon. Nobody needs an assault weapon.

We have common sense laws here in Hawaii with regard to age restrictions, background checks, etc.

I believe Americans have a right to own firearms and passing some background checks and waiting a while is reasonable.

A quote from a police officer: “If you need a gun TODAY, you don’t need a gun.”

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? 

I am running as a Republican and can tell you the Republican Party is divided on this issue as well. We need to move on.

I am running as centrist. I hope that more candidates can come out and do the same.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of guts to run for office and say, “Hey, here are my positions and views, and no, they don’t align 100% with the party.”

Congress needs to step it up and lead by example and stop the finger pointing and divisive rhetoric on both sides.

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? 

The solution isn’t simple. It takes a lot of research and a lot of experts in the field to make proposals and suggestions for this large of an issue. Best approach is baby steps, not a 10,000 page-bill written by a particular party that won’t pass.

5. What is your position on the Senate filibuster? 

No opinion on this either way. For now, it’s fine where it’s at.

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? 

Congress can help with incentives. But what incentive does the local power company have to allow residents to feed solar power back into the grid?

What incentives do solar installation companies have to use panels and batteries that aren’t going to end up in the landfill in two years?

It needs more thought and research before we just pick something and run with it.

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?

It needs to be amended (carefully). Is Hawaii ready to hire and house thousands of employees to inspect foreign cargo?  We can barely house our current resources.

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? 

Stop poking the bear!

It would be nice if Biden can just stop talking about some of these things and stop escalating. Try working together. By the way, Taiwan is not our problem.

One could only hope that if we got along with China, they may work with us to stop the flow of fentanyl chemicals out of their country. While we are at it – perhaps we should stop allowing the flow of illegal guns into Mexico.

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? 

What I saw with Red Hill was similar to what we may see with a private company as well. I wouldn’t make a blanket statement about the military as a whole here.

I would say that crumbling infrastructure is a problem throughout America.

We still have oil pipelines leaking.

If food inspectors can go into a restaurant and shut it down because of noncompliance, someone at the local government should be able to inspect a fuel storage facility to ensure it’s not going to blow up or leak into water and the local land.

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.

One big idea: Admit that we need help! We need to get up to speed with the 21st century. I’d start admitting we are behind and need help – with a fresh set of eyes.

Most things government-related in Hawaii are outdated, slow; there are not enough workers, etc. From the building permits, to the DMV, to the unemployment servers crashing — and now we are out of toilet paper?

Bring on some third party auditors and look through things. Folks that have been in government a long time here seem to just want to keep things running the same and don’t seem to get the bigger picture.

We are a state in the United States of America. There is no reason why we can’t look at another state that is doing something well, and adopt their systems and learn from them. Did I mention the DMV?

Lose the sense of elitism and entitlement. No, we can’t and won’t stop people from moving here or having children. We can allow prefabricated cheap homes so people don’t have to live in their cars.

It’s not rocket science. We do need to get folks to stop thinking that Hawaii will and should remain the exact same indefinitely.

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