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 Brian Ley, nonpartisan candidate for state House District 4, which includes Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Beaches, Koae, Kapoho, Pohoiki, Leilani Estates and Kehena The other candidates are Democrat Greggor Ilagan, Republican Keikilani Ho and Libertartian Candace Linton.

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 4

Brian Ley
Party Nonpartisan
Age 60
Occupation Nuclear technician
Residence Pahoa, Hawaii Island


Community organizations/prior offices held

Vice chairman, Hawaii County GMAC; member, Mental Restorations Foundation, assisting alcoholics and drug addicts.

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

The biggest problem in my district is crime. The majority of our crime is drug and alcohol related. Legalize marijuana, using some of the tax revenue for drug and alcohol rehab, both inpatient and outpatient. All nonviolent substance abuse crimes are sent to rehab. First, this will be cheaper for the state to rehab than incarceration. Second, they are off the streets and hopefully they can get help for their addiction and turn their life around.

Pass mandatory sentences for violent and habitual offenders. We need to stop our judges from doing the current catch and release program.

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 expand our economy into good-paying jobs. We need to pass liberal hemp production laws. We need to grow and manufacture hemp and hemp products. This will give us good jobs and help the environment, and export made-in-Hawaii products.

Also, reduce regulations on our cottage industry, making Hawaii more self-reliant.

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?

We need to reduce government regulations to allow our small businesses and cottage industries to flourish, without government killing our business. It’s a sad fact that Hawaii is rated the worst state to start or own a business. We need to be encouraging our entrepreneurs to have thriving businesses, to expand our tax base and grow the Hawaii middle class.

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?

We need stronger sunshine laws, and to actually enforce them. We need to actively terminate and vigorously prosecute legislators who violate our laws. We need to stop the process of the chairperson of a committee being able to decide if a bill gets heard or not. It’s easier to bribe one person than trying to buy all the legislators.

The trouble with a one-party rule is that the legislation is pushing party politics, instead of doing what needs to be done for the betterment of Hawaii.

We need to make running as a third-party member easier. Especially people trying to run nonpartisan. Especially in the primaries, where a nonpartisan candidate has to either get 10% of the vote or beat/tie another party candidate. In the November election, just list the candidates’ names, without their party affiliation. This would keep people from just voting party lines and make them do some research. Like we do with our candidates who run for mayor.

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

I strongly support a citizen initiative. It’s sad that Hawaii, being run by the party saying it’s for the people, is one of the few states not having a citizen initiative. The people need to be able to pass legislation that their elected representatives won’t pass, due to party politics.

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, we need to rotate fresh ideas into our legislation. And we need to stop the good ol’ boy network of back door deals. This will also help control the rampant corruption that is plaguing our government right now.

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, stronger sunshine laws. And immediately terminating any legislators who willfully violate any ethics or campaign contributions. Make our legislation process actually democratic. Stop the ability of a single chairperson to keep a bill out of their committee.

Every bill needs to be heard and every legislator needs to vote on every bill. This will make it harder to buy off a politician in critical positions. Take the power from the few and give it to the many.

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?

Stricter sunshine laws that are enforced. Stop the closed back door meetings, especially those that are meeting with other government agencies. Stop last-minute committee meeting scheduling. Hawaii has full-time problems and needs full-time legislation. This way we can schedule committee meetings in advance, so the working public can plan ahead to either show up in person to testify or get the time off for a zoom meeting. The current process only benefits legislators and special interest groups and lobbyists who have people being paid to act on short notice.

Everyone in the House and Senate, needs to vote on every bill. There should be a record of how the committee voted for a reference for a final vote. Written testimony should follow any bill from beginning to the end. Having people constantly giving written testimony on the same bill, every time it moves to a new committee, is draining and redundant.

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?

We need to stop forcing opinions and beliefs on people. Allow people to make their own decisions, based on the latest facts and information available. Forcing people doesn’t help convince people that they need to rethink their position. Teach people it’s OK to have a different opinion or philosophy and let people live with the choices they make.

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.

I would greatly reduce the power of the government. If the governor declares a state of emergency, stricter sunshine laws will be implemented, not ignored. Any emergency declaration will be across the board. No catering to special interest or big businesses. No more shutting down small business, while allowing big businesses to keep their doors open.

The Attorney General’s Office would be run by an independent individual. That office would vigorously investigate any and all corruption. And it would look over all bills being considered by legislation. We need to stop passing laws that go immediately to court and are overturned. It may benefit party politics, to put on a dog and pony show, but all it does is waste taxpayers’ money and time.

Implement a more stringent background check and ethical behavior for everyone in public office. Anytime the state of Hawaii falls into the bottom third of anything, special procedures kick in to bring the state up.

Hawaii should be embarrassed that the education of our children is so horrible, and we rate poorly in a lot of other categories. Instead of being the second in lack of freedoms, we should be one of the states with the most personal and economic freedoms.

In conclusion, we need a state and government that everyone should be proud of.

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