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 Josiah Araki, Republican candidate for state House District 35, which includes Pearl City, Waipahu and Crestview. His opponent is Democrat Cory Chun.

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 35

Josiah Araki
Party Republican
Age 22
Occupation General worker, Surfco Hawaii
Residence Pearl City, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Hawaii Republican Party, House District 35 chair; Hawaii Young Republicans, founding member.

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

The biggest issue in District 35 is actually two that are linked, homelessness and crime.

I believe we should look to the Brookings Institute’s study in 2013 for the solution to these issues. Three factors appear to impact whether someone is more likely to be in poverty or involved with crime: whether they completed high school, have a full-time job, and waiting for marriage to have children.

Ohana is a cornerstone of Hawaiian culture. Unfortunately, the high cost of living often mandates both parents work full-time. This means children only see their parents briefly before school, then for a few hours after school. This is almost all the time the parents have to nurture and raise their children.

This not only severely diminishes the influence parents have on their children’s lives, but might also lead to behavioral or emotional issues that negatively affect their education.

The best way to attack the issue is from two fronts, first through legislation that reduces the cost of living to alleviate the burden on families, and by spreading awareness of the significance of these three issues through schools, media and partnerships with trusted community organizations.

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 needs to be one of several industries, rather than the primary driving force in our economy. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword that can cause the state to get caught in a feedback loop where either national or global crisis or economic downturn results in a decline of tourism, further hurting the state economy.

My view is that we should incentivize the use of lands for agriculture, along with incentivizing companies to make their products in Hawaii rather than abroad.

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?

See my answer to question No. 1. Further, I’d support the elimination of the Jones Act, although it is outside of the jurisdiction of the state House.

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?

This issue is a large part of why I’m running as a Republican. The mere act of me being elected would be at least a partial shift toward a more balanced Legislature.

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

Absolutely. For those who are unaware, a “statewide citizens initiative” is where the citizens of a state write and attain a certain number of signatures to bypass the state Legislature in the creation or amendment of laws.

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, I would absolutely support term limits for Hawaii legislative races. This allows new blood to enter the Capitol with new ideas, while also acting as an additional check on corruption stemming from entrenched incumbents.

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?

Yes I’m open to these ideas, as integrity is an incredibly important virtue, one I strive to live up to.

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?

Is this not the same question as above? an ethical Legislature should be one that is transparent.

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?

It is difficult to bring people together when rhetoric accusing the other side of violence or calling for violence against the other side is being spewed. For example, Mazie Hirono recently had a “literal call to arms” against pro-lifers and Republicans on the floor of the U.S. senate. To bring Hawaii together, we must be civil with each other. This means not calling the other side Nazis or fascists, which I’ve seen both sides do in the last two years.

Further, whatever rules are in place for one side should be the standard for all. If Wal-Mart is allowed to remain open during a lockdown, so should the small business two doors down. If BLM is allowed to hold a rally in front of the state Capitol, so should conservative groups. This will hopefully reduce the sense of being treated unfairly that sours willingness to cooperate.

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.

Since I was very young, my imagination was captured by the lyrics to an old song from a musical: “Put on your Sunday Clothes, there’s lots of world out there.”

We live in an incredibly beautiful and diverse state, both geographically and culturally, but most people are lucky to visit an outer island even once or twice. My one big idea is to make the islands feel more unified as both a people and as a state.

Hawaii is rather unique as far as U.S. states go, as you can’t simply drive from Honolulu to Kona like someone might from Los Angeles to San Francisco. If I could reinvent Hawaii and was bound to the realm of realism, I would try to make it so a man living in Pearl City can visit his aunty in Hilo as easily as he visits his grandpa in Manoa, so a group of friends from Waipahu High School can explore the dirt roads on the Big Island as easily as they might in Kahuku.

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