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 Feena Bonoan, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. Her opponents are Democrat Brian Schatz, Republican Bob McDermott, Emma Jane Pohlman of the Green Party and Dan Decker of the Aloha Aina Party.

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

Candidate for U.S. Senate

Feena Bonoan
Party Libertarian
Age 38
Occupation Candidate
Residence Makakilo, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Director of operations, Hawaii Veterans Cannabis Alliance; vice-chair, Libertarian Party of Hawaii.

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

The cost of living is the biggest issue that is on the hearts and minds of the people of Hawaii.

The Jones Act is partially to blame for the high cost of living because it affects shipping costs, from building materials to Amazon packages. Revising and/or eliminating the Jones Act would be what I would do to ease the cost of living issue in Hawaii.

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?

I will support and defend the constitution. I see gun violence and mass shootings as a criminal justice system issue. The perpetrators are given stardom and then hushed away from the public eye behind bars. Part of the purpose of punishment is to serve as a deterrent so that others do not follow.

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?

This is the easiest question to answer; I’m a Libertarian. We do not have any Libertarians in the Senate and I wouldn’t have the pressure to party up, or vote yes because the other side said no. Many times I have seen where the D’s and the R’s can’t and won’t listen to each other, they dismiss the other before they utter a word.

A Libertarian in the Senate would change the whole dynamic because a Libertarian can listen to all sides and make the best decisions for the people, not the party.

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?

I have lived my whole life being told that none of those programs would be around for me, yet here they are still going strong. I am confident even with the changing demographics that our country’s major safety net programs will be just fine.

5. What is your position on the Senate filibuster?

It is a tool, and should be used responsibly. Like other tools it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

6. 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?

I believe our hearts are in the right place when it comes to wanting a cleaner and sustainable world to pass on to future generations. There are engineers and scientists globally spearheading initiatives and developing new technologies to make that come into fruition.

Congress should be considering everything, from plastic-eating mushrooms to actually removing methane from the atmosphere by trapping it in clay. Congress can do best by removing bureaucratic hurdles that hold up innovation and progress on the path to a clean and sustainable world.

7. 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?

My position is to end the Jones Act. I understand the national security aspect of the Jones Act, but a boat is a boat. I’m down for repeal or amending as long as it’s smart, because what we have now isn’t smart.

In 2020 shelves got bare and we haven’t really recovered from it yet. We watched supply ships sitting off the coast of California in 2021. In an emergency we need the supply chain moving smoothly and swiftly. The people don’t care if the ship the toilet paper comes on is American-made or not.

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?

I believe we should start by working toward a common goal that benefits future generations. That goal could be expanding space exploration, combating climate change, making advancements in medical care, or anything that is nonaggressive and would leave a positive global legacy.

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? 

We have to hold them and those who turned a blind eye to it accountable. I lived at Red Hill for a year when I moved to Hawaii with the Navy 10 years ago and again in 2019 while my husband was deployed. I was told not to drink the water. There were community meetings about the water quality and it made the news several times, all years before the Red Hill fuel crisis.

We knew this was an issue, those in power knew and still they did nothing. They, as in some of my opponents, turned a blind eye and hoped it would go away. Also the NEX still uses plastic bags.

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.

So long as we are forced to pay into government programs through taxation it should be toward infrastructure that would benefit everyone.

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