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 Ernest Caravalho, Aloha Aina Party candidate for state House District 28, which includes Makiki and Punchbowl. His opponent is Democrat Daniel Holt.

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 28

Ernest Caravalho
Party Aloha Aina
Age 61
Occupation Health care
Residence Chinatown, Oahu


Community organizations/prior offices held

Current president, Honolulu Chinatown Lions Club; officer, Knights of Rizal; appointed officer, Hawaiian Lodge Free and Accepted Masons; officer, Fraternal Order of Eagles; former vice-chair and current member, Neighborhood Board 13.

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

The biggest issues are crime, houselessness and affordable housing. For crime I will work with the community to insure we have more police walking the district. We need to have foot patrols to help to curb the increase of crime and we need to have working cameras in our district. These are just a few examples for crime.

For houselessness we need to identify who needs rehabilitation for drugs and alcohol and we as a state need to set up a state-of-the-art mental health facility. We also need to get more behavioral health workers out on the streets working.

For affordable housing the state must step in and give more contracts to developers who are willing to build homes people can live in.

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?

We need to divert the money we give to tourism and use that money to invest in diversifying our economy. We need to give some of that money to our local farmers and to other sustainable local ventures that can help us to be self-sufficient of mainland and foreign goods into Hawaii. Each island should be producing their own dairy, meats, vegetables and fruits. We must be self-sustainable thus ensuring that we are not held hostage to goods coming into Hawaii.

We should invest into a world class health system making Hawaii the place for health care, keeping our children here. We need to invest in hemp and bamboo. We also need to build a world-class education system and bring in high-tech industries to Hawaii. Hawaii should position itself as the financial capital of the Pacific.

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?

I believe that in Hawaii we must challenge the 14th amendment and equal protection clause. We do this by establishing a residency law of seven years. In this way no one who cannot prove seven years in Hawaii can buy land or homes giving those in Hawaii a chance to compete.

We need to increase the minimum wage at a faster rate then they have it now and we must look at universal basic income for all our people.

The media must do its part by not continuing to say to our people its okay to move to Vegas, and stop calling it the ninth island.

Teacher pay must go up and our education system needs to be overhauled. Time for our children to be able to compete and live in their home state by giving fair livable wages comparable to the continent.

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?

Although we say that we have the most lopsided Legislature in the country I would have to disagree with this to a point. In Hawaii our Legislature is broken. As we see we have a one-party rule but when you look deeper into this you will see that our Legislature hardly gets things done with a lot of grumbling between them. I surmise this is because in fact we have a lot of Republicans running as Democrats knowing that is the only way they can win.

Hawaii must have an open primary where the people are allowed to vote for who they believe in. We must allow people to vote their conscience and not party. By saying you choose to vote on your primary ticket as a Democrat and not be able to vote for someone you believe in can make a difference. Our closed primary system limits us to who we can vote for thus allowing a one-party system. Until we address this we cannot move forward. Thus, we see many Democrats winning at the primaries because the Republican or other parties are not fielding anyone to run as they know it’s a losing battle.

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

I support a citizens initiative. This is way overdue.

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, there should be term limits. I strongly believe in term limits. Without term limits we have leaders who are stuck in a mode with no vision for what our future should be. We also have many of them who are bought out by special interest groups and big corporations.

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?

The Sunshine Law should be a part of the government. Not just for neighborhood boards but for everyone involved in leadership positions. All records should be open to the public and we must ban campaign contributions during sessions. We must also go back to public funding for all candidates, giving everyone equal time and monies for campaigning to ensure big corporations, special interest groups and lobbyists cannot buy any one candidate.

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?

Seeing that there may not be much room for people to be in the different committee rooms, I would suggest that these meetings be open to all the people via zoom or other internet meeting application. By making these meetings open we thus allow the people to get a better understanding of our government and hopefully can stop the corruption that is plaguing our government.

Our leaders must be always subject to the Sunshine Law and everything must be recorded. Many might say this goes too far but it doesn’t. What is the difference between having these meetings open on the internet and recorded or having cameras on our streets to help with crime? There is none. It will force people to be on their best behavior and cause our leaders to learn that they are but servants of the people.

We cannot allow lobbyists or corporations to have the ears of our leaders while the people have none. There must be a balance so the Legislature must introduce a bill that will address this.

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?

As part of humanity, we are different, whether it be from culture, race, region, religion and so on. It is who we are. We shouldn’t be indifferent to our brothers and sisters.

As people who live on the most isolated islands, we should have grown up to understand this at an early age. Many of our elders know this, yet many of our young have not, especially those coming into our islands who do not share this concept of compromise.

We as a people have forgotten how to compromise. Instead, many have an ideology of its my way or the highway. There can be no good with this attitude. We must re-educate our people to learn to be acceptable of others and to listen to new ideas. We may not agree with it but we can learn from each other thus giving us an edge to compromise and ensuring all our ways, to build a better future for our generations to come.

We must stop, listen, understand and compromise, thus putting everyone into a win situation. Compromise is the key here. Learning and respecting our neighbors and their values and ideas is the way of bridging our people.

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.

Hawaii must build an internet infrastructure that is accessible to all our people. In doing so, businesses will be able to allow their employees to continue to work from home or to be able to have hybrid work schedules.

In doing this we would free up the roads, streets, highways and freeways of massive traffic, thus easing all the congestion on our systems and cleaning up our environment at the same time.

This will also force businesses to rethink how they do business in Hawaii and thus cut down on the office space they rent or buy, leaving empty spaces to rent out for housing of our people.

An internet infrastructure will change how we think and enable us to become an example on how we, in the most isolated place on Earth, are fighting for our environment and our future. It will give us just one part of self-sustainability.

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