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

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

Micah Aiu
Party Democratic
Age 33
Occupation Attorney
Residence Honolulu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

None provided.

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

Clean water is one of the major issues facing my district. We must ensure that the Navy quickly and safely decommissions the Navy’s Red Hill’s fuel storage facility.

I will try to work with our congressional delegation to ensure the Department of Defense finds a solution for Red Hill that preserves Hawaii’s aquifer.

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 the largest driver for Hawaii’s economy. I support responsible and sustainable tourism.

However, diversification is one of the most effective ways to increase long-term economic resilience. I support making it easier for new business to start and expand to Hawaii.

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?

The obvious answer to this is build more housing. I support streamlining the permitting and development process, which would reduce the costs and to encourage more developers to build housing. The Legislature can make sure that it is wisely spending tax dollars and the impact of taxes is proportional to the benefit.

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?

While I am a Democrat, I don’t believe that ideas belong to any one party and they should all be considered so that we can implement the best policy for the state going forward.

Should I be elected, my priority would be to learn as much as possible about the many priorities of our community, how to balance these needs against our tax base, and establish open relationships with a variety of constituencies. We must take a collective responsibility for our actions.

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

I believe that elected officials in Hawaii are properly representing the concerns and policy priorities of their constituents and any initiative process would likely be a waste of taxpayer money.

Moreover, given the modest size of our districts, voters and the public at large have ample opportunity to express their views, face-to-face or through written communication, with their representatives at the state Capitol, City Hall, neighborhood board meetings, and community events.

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?

This issue assumes that our representatives are not effective or not doing a good job. While I occasionally disagree with the polices being forwarded in the Legislature, I believe that our representatives are doing a good job.

Imposing term limits would disqualify otherwise good and effective individuals who want to serve the community from actually serving.

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 recent corruption scandals were not due to the Sunshine Law or fundraisers. If any person, elected official or not, chooses to violate the law, he or she will find a way no matter what the laws may hold.

Nevertheless, I support initiatives to strengthen Sunshine Law and open records laws. I also support a ban on fundraisers during the legislative session.

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?

Covid-19 has shown us that the Legislature can be made accessible to the public with hearings and testimony on Zoom and it being uploaded to YouTube. All hearings should continue to be electronic and in person, and the hearings should be made available after for viewing later.

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?

While division may be occurring in other states, I still believe that Hawaii is a special, welcoming place, a home to may different cultures and ideas.

I believe the real issue is getting people engaged in the democratic process. Our voter turnout for the 2022 primary was a mere 39.8%. We need to get more voices involved to have a healthy discussion.

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 have relied on the government to do everything and unfortunately as the old adage goes, “A jack of all trades is a master of none.”

I would ensure that the government is only providing core and essential services and providing those services at 100% efficiency. I believe that one of those services is infrastructure. The government should provide quality roads and buildings and ensure those buildings are properly maintained and modernized into the future.

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