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 Margaret Lim, Republican candidate for state House District 27, which includes Pacific Heights, Nuuanu and Makiki Heights. Her opponent is Democrat Jenna Takenouchi.

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

Candidate for State House District 27

Margaret Lim
Party Republican
Age 53
Occupation Realtor broker, investor, small business owner
Residence Nuuanu-Pali

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Started Tutors For Christ, volunteer group that tutored children at Next Step Shelter in Kakaako, 2008-2017.

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

Rising levels of crime and home invasions and the economic fallout caused by Covid-19. These issues are a direct result of rising cost of living, failing morality and illegal drug use.

I will propose bills to crack down on drug dealers, pushers and users, and advocate initiatives to engage faith-based organizations and businesses in working together toward a long-term solution.

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?

Currently, Hawaii’s largest industries are tourism and defense. Any plans to diversify our state’s economy should capitalize on these strengths.

The state government should work in conjunction with our military to boost Hawaii’s health care industry and shift our purely recreational tourism industry into the medical tourism industry. People who seek medical care in other countries outside of their home country are willing to pay top dollar for medical services and often pay in cash.

Promoting medical tourism will increase the supply of health care in our islands, lowering prices for local residents. Medical tourism would also provide wage-growth opportunities for people working in service-oriented industries, such as hospitality and food.

Hawaii must also focus on increasing its forestry and agricultural output. The state can revive agriculture in Hawaii by directing funding to agroforestry programs and purchasing new equipment for local farmers.

Increasing the state’s production of crops and lumber would allow the state to expand its food and wood manufacturing capabilities. This plan will not only improve food security but also provide more jobs while improving our environment.

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?

Many households have at least one family member working two jobs or more in order to survive. Some households have family members that choose not to work or work little hours due to various reasons. Both types of situations are not healthy for families and our economy.

To support both types of families, I propose offering tax credits to those working beyond 40 hours per week. This will operate as a wage boost to hardworking families and incentivize the few reluctant workers to contribute more to our workforce.

When families receive higher take-home income and small businesses can hire from a large pool of potential workers, we will experience economic growth and increase the standard of living in our state.

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?

Many people are aware of how often good bills get killed before they are even heard because they automatically will not get enough votes due to party politics. This should not happen. We need fair and open discussions about important issues that plague our state and the possible solutions.

This thoughtless process has continued unabated for many years because of the one-party control in our state. That is why our state rarely experiences significant positive change and Hawaii voters lose interest in state politics. On the flip side, our Legislature is also forced to entertain thousands of bills each session. This makes it impossible for the public to properly scrutinize each bill. It is impossible for anyone to know what each of the 3,000 bills proposed each year are about.

To address the issues of bills being killed on the spot and the flood of bills, I propose requiring legislators to collect a certain number of votes from the constituents in their own district before they can propose or reject any bill. This will improve transparency and accountability in our government and increase public interest in the legislative process.

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

I support a statewide initiative process. Having a statewide citizens initiative process will improve public trust in government and increase voters’ interest in the election process.

Many Hawaii voters express that their elected officials do not listen to them or they feel powerless to influence political outcomes. Instituting a statewide initiative process will give back the people of Hawaii their voice by allowing them to personally vote for specific legislative outcomes. It will also restore voters’ interest in our election outcomes. Encouraging a vigilant and participatory “we the people” can only benefit our society.

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?

I agree that our state legislators should have term limits. Our founding fathers desired that we, their descendants, have a free government that ensures the life, liberty and happiness of its citizens. To achieve this end, they purposely created the Constitution to ensure the balance and separation of powers.

How can we ensure life, liberty and happiness when the people of Hawaii have lost hope that their voice matters in our state politics because the same old party and incumbents dominate all political life? For the last 60 years, the Democratic Party of Hawaii has gone unchallenged. Even today, only five of the 82 partisan seats up for election this year are held by Republicans.

While it may be true that Hawaii is known as a Democratic state, the severity of this imbalance in power indicates that a deeper problem exists with our state’s political system. Having term limits for state legislators would be a necessary solution to achieving the balance of power that our founding fathers desired.

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?

I support the state’s Sunshine Law and open records laws. Hawaii voters are interested in attending legislative and board meetings, but currently are inadequately informed about them. Our state’s notice laws only require boards to give at least six days’ notice to the public of when and where a meeting will be held.

Can voters request a day off from working to attend public board meetings when they are only given six days’ notice? Absolutely not! That’s why corruption is allowed to happen in broad daylight.

Furthermore, while our law requires boards to post recordings of meetings to the public, this requirement is weakened by giving the board discretion over whether it is “practicable” for the board to record the meeting. I would propose requiring boards to give the public at least three weeks’ notice of public meetings, and require all public meetings to be recorded — no exceptions.

I also support a ban on campaign contributions during session; campaign contributions during the legislative session amount to bribes, which pervert justice and are against God’s law, because they can lead to partial decision-making.

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?

To encourage legislative transparency and accessibility, I propose requiring attendees at legislative meetings to fill out a form that publicly discloses who they are, or are representing, and what meetings they are in attendance at. In addition, I propose that the names of each lobbyist or lobbying organization that weighs in on a piece of legislation be publicly disclosed in a timely manner and fashion.

The Legislature should also direct funds to set up a program to transcribe each bill into layman’s language. Many voters find it difficult to understand what a bill is proposing because of the legal jargon. Each bill must have a version that is written at the seventh-grade level, as most people can only read up to eighth- or ninth-grade level (most popular novels are written at these levels) and especially because Hawaii has a large population of people whose first language is not English.

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?

To bridge the growing division between citizens and their politicians, we need new ideas and new perspectives — not just new faces from the same  party. Hawaii has a notorious reputation for being ruled by the Democratic Party for far too long. Hawaii residents are tired of the same party making the same unkept promises, packaged differently each election cycle, for the past 60 years.

The Republican Party in Hawaii has been almost nonexistent for many years. I will help bridge the gap between Hawaii citizens and their government by reinvigorating Hawaii’s Republican Party with fresh ideas and passion.

The Hawaii Republican Party that the people of Hawaii think of has undergone dramatic changes in leadership and structure these past few years. We are a new party with bold ideas, new perspectives, that loves God and has deep concern for our fellow residents, things our local government desperately needs. Most of all, I practice godly principles in every aspect of my life and work and have the career skills to resolve disputes and complete contractual obligations.

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.

My Big Idea for improving the state government’s efficiency and responsiveness to the people of Hawaii is to create a statewide polling website where any resident can report their greatest concerns or issues affecting their district or the state. The website algorithm would then continually rank the top 10 or top 20 issues that are most pressing to residents belonging to a certain district and to the state as a whole, based on the data that residents input. This website would operate in perpetuity.

During the legislative session, these top 10 or 20 issues must be the focus of any bill that is proposed or debated; any bill that does not address one of these top issues that affect the people of Hawaii should not be entertained during the current legislative session. Instituting this requirement would drastically reduce the number of bills that our legislators propose each year, which wastes time and resources without accomplishing what “we the people” actually want and care about. I imagine this system would reduce the 3,000 or so bills that legislators and the public must examine to just a couple hundred highly relevant bills.

Instituting this polling system would allow “we the people” to set the agenda for each legislative session.

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