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 Garner Shimizu, Republican candidate for state House District 32, which includes Fort Shafter, Moanalua, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Aiea and Halawa. His opponent is Democrat Micah Aiu.

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 32

Garner Shimizu
Party Republican
Age 63
Occupation Retired/consultant
Residence Moanalua, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Moanalua Valley Community Association, past president.

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

The biggest issue that has been highlighted with recent information coming out in the open is the Navy’s Red Hill fuel tanks that imperil our water supply.

I would communicate and work together with my legislative colleagues, the administration, the Board of Water, and our congressional delegation to present a coordinated and united effort in the communication and processing with the Navy and federal government, to expedite defueling and safeguards to our water supply.

As we wait for Navy action to completely defuel and remove the threat to our water, we need to also concurrently and proactively work on water treatment or filtration systems that can ensure safe drinking water to the people.

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?

While tourism will remain an important contributor to our economy and workforce, to prevent irreparable harm, we need ongoing and even new efforts to better identify and manage detrimental effects to our environment and quality of living. We should not and cannot be so heavily dependent on this industry and absolutely need to expand our economic base to become more self-sufficient.

The government can develop, attract and recruit viable alternate industries by offering incentives such as tax breaks, land and workforce development arrangements. High tech, health care, education, renewable energy and sports industries are clean, environment friendly, higher income-producing businesses and employers. Dedicated ag land needs to be protected for diversified agriculture such as produce, coffee, flowers, macadamia nuts, livestock and aquaculture. We should look into other new viable crops such as industrial hemp.

We can emulate Singapore’s shipping port success by first securing a Jones Act exemption, then negotiating agreements to allow expanded free trade zone capacity at Honolulu Harbor or Kalaeloa/Barbers Point.

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?

Affordable housing is the single greatest cost factor negatively impacting our families and their ability to live here. We need all stakeholders — state and city government, landowners, developers, design and construction industry participants — to come together to identify and correct factors and obstacles that contribute to the high cost of housing.

HB 1837 establishes a statewide working group on affordable housing to foster increased interagency coordination on housing and zoning issues, identify and reduce barriers, and is a step in this direction. Actual specific progress and effectiveness of this bill needs monitoring and confirmation to keep moving this initiative forward and not allow this critical issue to be ignored.

Similar to housing, we can stimulate business with the various stakeholders coming together to identify and correct factors and obstacles that impede our business climate. Government can and should promote and assist the economy by removing and reducing oppressive, unnecessary regulations, streamline procedures, identify and correct mismanagement and unwise spending and expose and clean up corruption. This can greatly eliminate and reduce waste and inefficiency to better utilize taxpayer funds and reduce or limit taxes.

A Jones Act exemption is also needed to allow more ships to lower transportation cost.

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?

Business monopolies offering no choice will control cost and consumer requirements. Similarly, one-party control without competition or other checks and balances for our state’s entire history should take credit for quality of life circumstances we currently face.

The high cost of living puts many in survival mode with both partners working sometimes multiple jobs, while raising a family, maintaining a household and possibly other responsibilities. Many have no time to research candidate qualifications and positions and solely rely on mainstream media for their information to form their positions and decision making. We need media’s help to present objective journalistic reporting, clearly stating the facts of any idea simply, pros and cons, without any spin or persuasion to control outcome, allowing individuals to decide without influences.

This will help citizens make informed voting decisions. This should also apply to elected officials once in office to help the public see and understand, again through simple and clear objective fact presentation, what kind of decisions their voted officials are making and how this affects their lives. I will make every effort to be connected to my district through informing them of the issues and being open and accessible to hear their concerns.

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

I support the idea in concept.

However, to gain formal approval, good analysis and careful investigation of results from other states using this initiative will be helpful and needed. Thorough detailed guidelines with a well thought-out approval process and safeguards should be established to prevent abuse from powerful special interests.

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?

For the same reasons there are term limits for the governor, mayor and county councils, there should be reasonable term limits for our Legislature, and Congress as well.

Somewhat related to questions 4 and 7, consolidation of power and influence accumulated by career politicians establishing involved relationships with competing special interests, tends to pressure and lead one away from their fundamental basic purpose of serving and doing what’s best for the people. We have seen this in our recent corruption cases, where monetary influence and self gain takes over.

Someone who is more concerned with getting re-elected and catering to their special-interest donors will not be energized and motivated to always learn and pursue better ways to help the people.

Term limits will help prevent corruption, as well as introduce new fresh energetic individuals to serve selflessly for the people. Loyal, hard-working legislators serving the public well have the opportunity to serve in other positions once term-limited.

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?

At the core of my commitment is to serve as an elected government official entrusted by the people. I will abide by my sacred oath to serve the people, not myself, so help me God.

I will refuse any bribe or favors, and not put myself in compromising situations or positions where I have a conflict of interest.

Conflicts of interest need to be self-declared or identified and participants should be disqualified from involvement or participating in any way. Violators should be discharged from the Legislature and prosecuted accordingly. The Sunshine Law and open records laws should apply to the Legislature.

Regular audits of pertinent information will help all government officials and departments to be accountable and transparent, expose conflicts of interest, and highlight corruption. I would support banning campaign contributions during session.

Additionally, I would ideally like to see set campaign funding limits to greatly reduce soliciting donations, to eliminate the power and influence of money on any candidate’s campaign and future service, and level the playing field for all participants. All campaign spending commission reports detailing donors and amounts should be published for public viewing. This will clearly put on view any pay-to-play connections.

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 start, the physical State Capitol building needs to be opened up and fully accessible to the public, conference committees as well. Yes, impose stricter disclosure requirements on lobbying and lobbyists at the minimum, and maybe disallow them altogether. Eliminate the legislative procedure that allows gutting and replacing manipulation of bills. The practice of anonymous “by request” bill introductions should also be eliminated.

The Sunshine Law and open records laws should apply to the Legislature, as well.

Regular audits of pertinent information will help all government officials and departments to be accountable and transparent, expose conflicts of interest and highlight corruption. It should be the goal of the Legislature, and government, to be fully transparent, accessible and connected to the public, helping educate and inform the people with simple and clear communication of decisions being made. We should be public servants, of the people, by the people and for the people.

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 leaders, government needs to set the example and tone of unity. Essential to bridging gaps is changing and directing the narrative, especially through partnering with the media. The standard should always be respectful to those with differing positions. We can agree to disagree without tearing down one another with our words and opinions, instead being considerate, humble and courteous to one another in order to live aloha.

As we focus on the basic issues that are real common challenges to us all like reducing the cost of living, education, public health and safety, and protecting our environment, we can work together to achieve our shared goals and a better overall quality of life for our families.

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.

Government controls most parameters affecting our lives. Let’s reinvent our government.

Eliminate all political parties so that everyone is nonpartisan with no prejudgments, intolerance or competition. Legislators work together to analyze and formulate the best ideas addressing the most pressing problems for the people’s best interests.

A Civil Beat article stated the Hawaii Legislature typically passes only 10% of the bills introduced in a session. In the same article, “… with limited time in session, results in a too-many-bills and not-enough-time challenge…”, is an example of an inefficient process that needs improvement. Legislators need to maximize precious session time to carefully discuss and process meaningful change.

Almost 5,000 bills were introduced in the 2021-2022 session. Change this to a maximum limit of 500. All bills need to address the top 25 priorities that have been established by the governor, departments and public input consideration. Every bill will clearly state the initial cost, the lifetime maintenance cost and the public benefit and risks.

For every bill introduced and passed, at least two outdated bills would be taken off the books. In addition to our Legislature, there would be consulting firms to help research and provide recommendations with expert advice and guidance.

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