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 Anna Misako Hudson, Republican candidate for state Senate District 17, which includes Mililani, Waipio Acres, Wahiawa and Whitmore Village. Her opponent is Democrat Donovan Dela Cruz.

Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.

Candidate for State Senate District 17

Anna Misako Hudson
Party Republican
Age 65
Occupation Retired
Residence Mililani

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Regional vice-chair, of Central Oahu Republican Party; active church leader; city liaison for a senior foundation, a senior advisory committee and a youth commission.

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

Cost of living is one of the biggest issues facing residents not only in our district but statewide. With costs rising in every area of our lives, we are all feeling financially squeezed whether you rent or own a home, or if you work, or are retired on a fixed income. People are concerned for basic biological needs, such as food, energy, water, transportation, safety and security, so there are other concerns such as supply chain issues, and self-sustaining agriculture.

As a senator, I will focus on accountability and transparency to ensure good stewardship of our tax dollars. We must work together to prioritize our spending and enact legislation to address the issues to positively impact all in Hawaii.

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?

The tourism industry infuses $2 billion into Hawaii’s economy while employing over 200,000 workers, not to mention the trickle-down businesses they support like laundry, flower arrangements, food services, etc. It would be difficult to move away from tourism anytime soon.

Whatever direction Hawaii decides to move toward, Hawaii must provide educational and vocational training opportunities for residents to be able to compete for the available jobs, or provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to own their own business.

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?

Hawaii had the second-highest tax burden in the nation. We must find viable solutions for Hawaii to control spending and seek ways to generate revenue while balancing the budget.

There are examples of states, territories or countries with a flat rate tax that had surpluses. This may be an opportune time to have a comprehensive study of all tax, fees, license, etc., of the state and city & county to find ways to increase the take home pay of our residents, and reduce taxes if possible.

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?

I would work with other legislators to propose legislation that would cross party lines. I welcome an open exchange of ideas. If it hasn’t been done already, we need to take an inventory of our strengths and weaknesses and all the services offered by one of the three layers of government and remove any duplication of services. Hawaii’s government must work together to determine what areas need the most attention. According to the United Way-sponsored hi.211counts.org, of the 29,000 callers asking for assistance and information, 60% were asking about housing assistance, and 25% were for shelter.

Voters are the key to help Hawaii create a two-party system by electing more Republican legislators. I urge registered voters to actively seek the voting history of their current representative(s). Log on to www.capitol.hawaii.gov to read about the 311 bills passed by legislators, and signed by the governor in 2022. Also go to www.legiscan.com plus Hawaii 2022 and read the House bills and seek who are the key introducers of each bill. Then, please get out the vote, to elect or re-elect the next state senator.

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

I support a statewide citizens initiative process where the public is given the opportunity to introduce a proposal or measure for consideration. Interestingly, this process requires the proposal or measure to be placed on the ballot where the public is given the opportunity to vote for or against the bill.

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?

I am for a government by the people. I propose there be a maximum of a two-year term limit, or a total of eight years of service. If an outgoing candidate wants to continue staying involved beyond their term limits, they will likely find other opportunities to remain active. I believe there is an opportunity to develop and support staff or a “candidate of promise” to groom and mentor before one’s term limit ends.

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?

Laws and specific guidelines exist to direct elected officials on how to conduct themselves ethically. These rules also apply to all government employees. A zero tolerance approach must  be taken in dealing with legislative and staff misconduct.

A written documentation of ethics and other pertinent trainings officially held, and attended by staff and the newly hired must be recorded and kept on file, and revisited periodically.

As a rule, legislators and employees are typically not allowed to solicit, accept or receive, directly or indirectly, any gift. The Ethics Commission and training makes it clear of the rules to follow. Accepting of contributions during session should be carefully scrutinized since it can be seen as buying support, and/or perceived as a conflict of interest especially if the contribution being made is by an organization that has everything to gain or lose from the law being passed.

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?

Legislators are required to follow specific guidelines on how to conduct public meetings under the Sunshine Law and other regulations. Typically it is policy to give the public 72-hour notice prior to a scheduled public meeting(s) to offer citizens the opportunity to give their personal testimony for or against a bill.

Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practice Act (UIPA) §92F-11: Affirmative agency disclosure responsibilities. (a) All government records are open to public inspection unless access is restricted or closed by law.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Lobbying Disclosure Act, a person is required to register as a lobbyist if lobbying activities constitute at least 20% of their time working for a client.

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 must continually pray for unity and discernment. It’s crucial for each discussion presented to include a financial and environmental impact report as well as an outline of the pros and cons of each bill and be made available for citizens to review, and understand the justification of each bill.

Personally I am an adaptable, resilient individual with a strong moral compass. Through my experience as a transient military dependent attending 10 schools, I have learned to adapt to new environments and cultures in which I am placed in and able to work in harmony with my peers. It is always good to look for ways to find common ground despite our differences.

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.

Recently the CDC has admitted it mishandled the Covid-19 health crisis. I hope to return to the time where no mandates will be imposed and where medical privacy and HIPAA laws are honored.

I envision our legislators would strive to create and pass laws that benefit the people while being fiscally responsible. I would not reinvent Hawaii but would simply return to the time where people respected and displayed genuine aloha toward each other. Legislators must continue to honor and support small businesses so that all citizens have the opportunity to start a business in a timely manner, pursue their passion, and live out the American dream.

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