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 Lauro, Republican candidate for state Senate District 25, which includes the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Kailua, Lanikai, Keolu Hills, Waimanalo and Hawaii Kai. His opponent is Democrat Chris Lee.

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 25

Brian Lauro
Party Republican
Age 54
Occupation Entrepreneur/retired law enforcement
Residence Hawaii Kai

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

The biggest issues are election integrity, crime, 2nd amendment infringement, cost of living and taxes. Laws need to be passed to eliminate government corruption and the mishandling of crises like Covid-19, which was a primary contributor to these issues.

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 always going to be our state’s main source of income, in addition to the U.S. military. I believe we need to do everything we can to bring Hawaii back to being a safe, friendly, aloha state that is an affordable, family friendly place to visit.

The Jones Act has had a huge negative impact on the possibility of lowering the cost of living and entertaining the diversification of industry in Hawaii. Therefore, I support Jones Act reform and other bipartisan efforts to address cost of living issues for the people of 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?

— Affordable housing for kamaaina: Hawaii ranks No. 1 as having the highest cost of living among our 50 states, thereby forcing many families to move to other states with lower costs of living.

— Voting integrity: The mail-in voting has created the largest voting scandal/fraud the United States has ever seen. Laws with oversight and accountability need to be created.

— Protect individual liberties: Our Constitution upholds the rights and freedom of every individual. The state shall not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process and equal protection by the law. Ensure that freedom of speech is upheld and that public servants hear the voice of their constituents by opening their line of communication through avenues such as regular public forums in our communities. We the people shall elect a constitutional sheriff to replace the governor-appointed state sheriff who is beholden to the governor and not to we the people.

— Boost economic diversification: Continue to promote a diverse economy with an information-based component and lower taxes and regulation to reduce poverty, reduce dependence on tourism and support local small businesses.

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 see our politicians and their votes being bought by corrupt money and businesses with personal interest. This is destroying this state. As well as the fraud that came with the “mail-in voting” law. This has hindered the possibility of a fair and equitable election. Without that, we no longer live in a democracy.

Our forefathers came to America to escape oppression from a one-party tyrannical government. And to prevent that from happening again, they wrote a Constitution to give everyone life, liberty and to pursue happiness. Somehow Hawaii has found a way to dissolve hundreds of years of work and is chipping away at our freedom and the exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability.

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

This is an issue that I am currently undecided on and would welcome additional discussion.

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?

Absolutely. Term limits for state legislators are a critical component of promoting a fair government that serves the people. For example, look at the U.S. Congress. Term limits could address the corrupt incentive structure that can develop when incumbents remain in office too long.

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?

In light of the recent and prominent corruption scandals, government integrity has become a hot topic. I believe that the secret to combating corruption is to encourage voters to vote individuals into office who embody honesty and truth, and have a clear, indisputable history of loving and serving the people.

I was asked to run because I embody these characteristics and loathe corruption. Therefore, I am definitely open to ideas such as requiring the Sunshine Law and open records laws to apply to the Legislature and banning campaign contributions during 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?

I don’t have an opinion on the topic of lobbying.

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?

Leadership is so critical. I think we all need to be someone that others can value and respect. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” But, as long as there are corrupt, selfish people, there will be dissension in government.

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.

First of all, Hawaii is far worse after the mismanagement of the pandemic. We find out our strengths and weaknesses, who our leadership really is, when we face crisis or large-scale emergencies.

Going forward, we might begin by calling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and considering the adoption of Florida’s action plan. DeSantis handled the pandemic like a leader that cared about the people, and I believe that a number of his policies and procedures could directly assist in improving some of Hawaii’s flaws that were exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

As long as we have a government that seeks money, power and control over people and freedom, we will continue to repeat 2020/2021.

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