Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 General 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 Robert Novak, Republican candidate for state House District 25, which includes Ala Moana, Kakaako and Downtown Honolulu. His opponent is Democrat Scott Saiki.

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

Candidate for House District 25

Robert Novak
Party Republican
Age 43
Occupation Health food sales, Uber driver
Residence Honolulu

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

Election Integrity. We need to audit all state election processes. It is fact that there is fraud in every election, but the question is how much fraud. This needs to be defined, then limited.

Furthermore, mail-in ballots offer high risk for fraudulent elections.

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?

Tourism is easy money for Hawaii politicians, and they have absolutely been overlooking our own local Hawaii residents. It should not be all about big corporation tourism money, it’s about sustainability for the local people. We can become more active and focus energy in local manufacturing, local agriculture and farming within communities to become more self-sustaining. And build and promote the IT/technology industry — that is the future. And the state could offer a local shipping hub, since we’re surrounded by millions of consumers in other countries.

To get to these ideas, I will introduce tax cuts and tax benefits for local small businesses to promote these endeavors to benefit our communities.

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?

Remove the UN agenda. Also, promote local small businesses by offering tax cuts and tax benefits.

We should reboot the local Hawaii Island ferry, which was shut down by the airline and rental car industries so they can make their money. Bring this back to the people.

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?

As a Republican candidate, this is exactly why I am running. It comes down to personal freedom, let the people be heard, let them freely speak, then grow.

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

Yes, we need initiative. Initiative by the people. We have too many Hawaii-based corrupt politicians doing what is best for themselves.

The unfinished rail project has become a money pit and this is a great example.

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, clearly and absolutely there need to be term limits. It is clear why — because it all comes down to power and money.

We need to take the money out of politics. But this all begins with election integrity, because if that is fraudulent, then those same politicians will stay in power.

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?

All processes should go through an ethics code, and the Legislature currently has nobody to keep them in check. We require more balance to the Legislature with a committee or board to oversee them. Checks and balances.

I absolutely welcome and see benefits to new ideas like the Sunshine Law.

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?

Our state needs to host town hall events. Also, we urgently need to regulate lobbyists. Also, information should be readily accessible to the people — it has been very difficult to receive transparency on simple information. And finally, the fact that publicly-accessible government building doors have been locked (post-covid) is a very bad sign.

Our state government needs massive change. It is worrisome that our politicians hide. Only people who are not favored by the people need to hide — is this because they are guilty of corruption?

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?

We need to begin by resetting how we live. Our society is sick, living off of fast food and sugar. Eating healthy should be normal, but eating fast food, junk food and sugar is the actual mainstream norm, which clouds people minds.

Meanwhile, through Covid, not once did state or federal government speak on a healthy lifestyle, or diet and vitamins that will help beat a coronavirus while corona viruses have been around for centuries. All while Big Pharma creates more billionaires.

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.

We are currently in a sick care system, and we need to get into an actual health care system. Pharmaceutical drugs offer a Band-Aid to illness. Healthy eating is eating normally. Fast food offers zero nutrition, which supports cancer growth. Meanwhile, food is medicine, think super-foods for vitamins and electrolytes.

Also, we need to stay hydrated, get proper rest, get exercise, get sun, which delivers vitamin D, etc. Not once during the Covid-19 pandemic did any local or federal government agency ever offer any of this guidance — only to wear a mask and get a vaccine. We need to heal, not harm.

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