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 Conrad Kress, Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu. His opponent is Democrat Ed Case.

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

Candidate for 1st Congressional District

Conrad Kress
Party Republican
Age 65
Occupation Retired Navy SEAL
Residence Kailua, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

None provided.

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

Recent sustained spikes in prices across the spectrum. This administration campaigned on a suffocating energy policy and has followed through on its pledge. We need to find alternative energy sources wherever possible and practical. The results speak for themselves with devastating impact throughout our beloved state in the form of an outright economic assault on the family. One look at the gas pump, your electric bill, the cost of food, the costs of clothing and service says it all.

Congressman Ed Case has been a willing partner in all this.

Solution: Rein in the executive branch. The legislative branch should aggressively approach workable energy solutions. These solutions should not be driven by a few fanatics, but through careful study and thoughtful implementation. We should see much more debate on bills relating to energy policy. Executive fiat is a dangerous trend that must be stopped. In short, do your job, Congress.

We need to allow free market forces to dictate cost, availability and utility, while diminishing our foreign dependence (Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc). This will reinstate and grow American jobs, restore the disrupted supply chain, and allow prices to respond to the return of domestic production and availability.

2. What can the U.S. Congress do about mass shootings in America? Would you support banning military-style assault weapons and establishing universal background checks? What other measures would you propose to reduce gun violence?

It’s a mistake to continually direct our attention at the instrument of the crime and not direct our attention to the criminals who commit the crimes. From there we need to look at why lawlessness in general is on the rise. In Hawaii County there was a staggering 67% rise in violent crime last year! No honest assessment of what is going on can be attributed to the use of rifles in crimes. Here in Honolulu, violent crimes have been rising at frightening levels.

I have a strong, formal background in medicine (physican’s assistant). In order to correctly address any medical problem, the correct diagnosis needs to come first. As a former U.S. Navy SEAL, I also have a significant background in the use of weapons and their proper place in conflict.

This is not an easy, push-this-button-for-the-solution issue. It’s hotly debated and, in many cases, driven by powerful emotional reactions to highly visible tragedies brought on by madmen.

What we have to ask ourselves, is what has happened over the last few decades and address those polices, trends and outcomes.

3. The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the questions of whether the 2020 election was stolen have shown how seriously divided the nation is. Some say democracy itself is in trouble. How would you work to end the political polarization that divides both the Congress and the country?

Solution: Create an atmosphere of mutual trust with respect to election and information practices.

If one recalls the same questions in 2016 were leveled when Hillary Clinton was defeated (followed by an unrelented campaign of mistrust).

Fairness and balanced reporting in the press: Journalists should practice the craft of reporting the news, not creating it.

Have a top-down review of journalistic practices that ensure they behave and refrain from unduly influencing election practices and voter perceptions.

Keep the federal government out of our opinions: If you recall, the Biden administration tried to set up a “Disinformation Governance Board.” This appointed board was formulated to monitor and ultimately control which opinions were approved and could be propagated among citizens. This is an absolute affront to freedom in America. It dissolved within a few weeks, but the fact it was enacted is frightening.

Keep Big Tech out of our opinions and the need to express them: This administration is also teaming with large tech companies to control the flow of free thoughts and ideas. This is a direct assault of our freedom of speech and freedom of the press and represents the true danger to our democratic republic.

4. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while currently financially sound, risk future funding concerns because of changing demographics. What would you propose to shore up the country’s major safety net programs?

This cannot be properly answered in the 200-word limit imposed.

The current national debt just passed the $31 trillion voted for a scaled down variant $700-800 billion bill. This is still money printed out of thin air to be paid back by the next generations of taxpayers.

Our Social Security program is running dry. Policymakers have no plan to fix it, and generations of Americans have been duped into believing it’s a good deal, according to heritage.org.

The Social Security Board of Trustees reports that the program will run out of money in 2034. That means anyone 55 or younger today won’t receive a single full benefit, and most current retirees will be subject to 23% benefit cuts — an average loss of $4,400 per year.

Social Security’s solutions are straightforward, and despite the program’s fiscal imbalances. Policymakers could protect a popular program and reduce the chances of a fiscal crisis. It’s time for policymakers to get serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order.

5. What is your position on the Senate filibuster?

The filibuster empowers the minority and frustrates the majority, according to heritage.org. It is a tool that extends debate, and it has always been a part of the way the Senate does its legislative business.

The legislative filibuster is a crucial part of the Senate. Leading Democrats like President Biden himself have long defended it. Democrats themselves just spent six years using it liberally to block bills from Sen. Tim Scott’s police reform to coronavirus relief. And less than four years ago, when it was Republicans who held the Senate, the House and the presidency, 27 current Democrats, plus Vice President Harris, signed a letter insisting this longstanding rule should not be broken.

I agree with Vice President Harris it should not be broken.

5. Is the U.S. on the right path when it comes to mitigating climate change and growing renewable energy production? What specific things should Congress be considering?

My general take on the matter is: Green energy wherever plausible, practical and purchasable.

There should be a well-considered transition from one set of energy sources to another. Fanaticism has no place in any critical problem-solving discussion.

Jumping to unproven technologies could have unintended consequences that could ultimately cause greater damage to the environment. This is a very real possibility and should be considered. We should press forward, but carefully and rationally. Shaming people into any viewpoint is not optimal.

Here in Hawaii, it falls upon us to protect our ocean and all the benefits we derive from a culture of the sea, surfing, paddling, kiting, fishing, boating, diving and tourism for our future generations; it is part of our legacy. At the same time, we must support a free market approach to encourage innovations that will keep energy prices from crushing us more so than present and diminish our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

We must make investments that will help our country lead the world in the development and production of efficient and renewable energy technologies.

I believe innovations that are safer, cleaner and cheaper will lead to better-paying jobs and an increased standard of living.

5. The Jones Act requires that domestic freight transport on U.S. waterways be conducted by crews that are at least three-fourths American, and on vessels built in U.S. shipyards, and that are American-owned. What is your position on this law and its effects on Hawaii? Does it need to be amended or repealed?

The workers unions of Hawaii clearly understand that Ed Case is willing to outsource their jobs and allow foreign countries and foreign workers to destroy their livelihood. They are rightly concerned about his actions.

During his last term, Ed Case introduced four bills designed to take away jobs from Hawaii. All of them had zero co-sponsors. In plain terms, nobody else in Congress thought they were a good idea.

The Jones Act is critical to American security and prosperity, delivering over 650,000 U.S. jobs, a reliable supply chain, and protection to our nation’s borders and national security interests. These benefits do not stop within the contiguous United States – and are realized even more in states like Hawaii, 2,500 miles from the U.S. mainland and home to 13,000 jobs related to the Jones Act shipping industry.

We have posted several videos on this issue from industry leaders on our websites and YouTube Channel.

The Jones Act is not the actual reason for high prices and supply chain breakdowns. This is a mischaracterized, straw-man argument being paraded around. The Biden/Case energy (fuel policy) is the actual culprit for the majority of the increase in costs of just about everything here in Hawaii. 

8. The Biden administration says China is the greatest long-term threat to the U.S. and has been trying to expand its influence, especially in the Pacific. What can the U.S. do to build better relations with the Asia-Pacific region?

That’s interesting, because Biden has been telling the public on numerous occasions that a rising, and powerful China is a good thing for America. Why the sudden turn-around?

Recognizing and engaging threats from foreign aggressor nations and/or non-state actors, the ever-expanding encroachment of the Chinese Communist Party/People’s Republic of China into our Pacific Island home cannot be ignored any longer.

The PRC/CCP is encroaching into Oceania and more specifically deep inside previous footholds in the INDO PACOM Area of Operations.

The coupling of their military expansion programs along with the Belt and Road Initiative have made accessibility easier for China through their economic development programs.

These programs around the world, which have been funded by the CCP (in 70-80 countries) with PRC/CCP placement in these sovereign nations. Examples include Uganda’s only international airport in Entebbe and Sri Lanka, the Hambantota seaport, which was ceded over as a consequence of loan default with PRC/CCP.

The ever-expanding conquest of territory by the communist regime has reached to within conventional striking distance of the United States. We should potentially look carefully at teaming closer with India and reviewing/learning from their model for dealing with China.

9. The Red Hill fuel crisis illustrated not only how critical the military’s role is in Hawaii but also the serious problems it sometimes causes. It is also a central component of the local economy. What would you do to ensure the military behaves responsibly in the islands?

Recent updates to the Red Hill fuel spill and its mitigation, has now led to the appointment of the former INDO-PACOM J3 Operations Director, Rear Admiral John Wade. The focus on causation, contamination, mitigation, litigation and future management is critical.

As the potential Congressional District 1 representative, I would be actively involved with the task force, the military representatives, the families, and the community at large affected by the Red Hill fuel crisis.

My 41 years of military service within the ranks of the United States Navy/Naval Special Warfare uniquely positions me to accurately assess the problem, find the most appropriate solution and implement those solutions. I have been in over 70 countries complementing large teams that stood up community programs that involved significant logistical planning, risk mitigation and follow-on assessment protocols.

I would like to explore the practical feasibility of desalination plants for the islands as a freshwater source.

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.

My medical background and career in Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) gave me a unique perspective in the governmental approach to this and I come away with the sense, much could have been done better:

— Be honest with the data.

— Government behavior exacerbated the problem.

— Medical community was compromised early.

— Media did not serve the public with the truth, but fanned the flames of hysteria. Hawaii was flung into fear mode despite the data pointing to a different outcome and alternative solution sets.

The state and federal governments made dire predictions which did not come to fruition, and they never amended the approach to a sensible policy. The Trump as well as Biden administrations governed by fear and mandate. Emergency Powers should have been requested from the executive branch and legislative leaders would debate the bill and vote for it to be law for 30 days or so. Instead at state and federal levels, the governor and president both acted as supreme leaders and circumvented the separation of powers as delineated in the state and U.S. constitutions. The legislatures hid behind edicts of unelected bureaucrats and chaos reigned in some cases to this day.

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