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 Mary Smart, Republican candidate for state Senate District 18, which includes Waipio, Crestview, Royal Kunia, Mililani, Waipahu and Akupu. Her opponent is Democrat Michelle Kidani.
1. What is the biggest issue facing your district, and what would you do about it?
Cost of living increases. We need to cut all wasteful and useless government programs.
I would begin with rail, which most people don’t want to ride; there isn’t enough HECO power to operate it; the operation and maintenance costs are excessive; it was poorly planned and managed; it was bait and switch regarding its costs and the number of local jobs promised our community; it is old technology and an eyesore to our beautiful state. Repurpose the rail infrastructure to make it an asset to the community.
Regarding Covid-19, a waste of $22.5 million spent on tests that expired and another $65,000 expended to have a contractor destroy the expired tests was inexcusable. Government must be held accountable for their mismanagement of our precious taxes. The government needs to stop wasting taxpayer money advertising the Covid-19 shot. Everyone who wants it knows how to get it.
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?
Hawaii chases out viable businesses due to our anti-business policies. Until we replace our local and federal legislators and executives, my ideas will go nowhere. Since we are an island state over-dependent on shipping, we need to produce more products at home, especially food.
We have agricultural land that is idle that should be put into production for crops and animal husbandry; we should support local food processing plants and encourage a healthy lumber industry for construction and furniture making. Hawaii’s koa and mango furniture and other artifacts are highly prized. Lumber is a green/renewable commodity.
We need to take measures to reduce shipping costs to bring raw materials and energy resources to our state, which will facilitate economical export of finished products. This is essential as the global supply chain is currently interrupted and Jones Act ships that service Hawaii are low in number and costly.
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?
It has been government intention or incompetence that destroyed the middle class in Hawaii, which was exacerbated during the Covid-19 health emergency. I would restrict the government from declaring some businesses “essential” while mandating the closure of others. Furthermore, I would reinstate with back pay and damage compensation those employees who were fired for not taking the experimental “vaccine” which requires informed consent, or fired for not submitting to testing with products known to give false positives.
Businesses that were forced to close must be compensated for their losses that were the result of government overreach. Secondly, I would find ways to build single-family homes that Hawaii residents can afford to buy. Private property, especially fee simple land, is the best way to build family wealth.
The classic book “Land and Power in Hawaii” describes the machinations to hoard the land by a few and restrict widespread land ownership. Our state must prohibit “highest and best use” land grab schemes that violate personal private property rights.
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 am running for Senate District 18 specifically to be the voice for the people who are not represented by current one-party rule. I have been an active testifier in the Legislature. It seems that the committee members are more interested in having participants adhere to the one- or two-minute limit than the informational content of the testimony. There is rarely a question asked of testifiers other than government employees, favored lobbyists and organizations.
During the “pandemic,” the authoritarian one-party-rule allowed the Capitol (the people’s house) to be locked down and violated our medical privacy to gain access when it was finally opened. The legislators and governor’s staff were essentially barricaded in their office spaces to separate themselves from their constituents.
5. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
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 support term limits. The original idea was for citizens to give up their time to represent their neighbors as public servants, sometimes at a great loss in income and benefits they had in their private life. With career politicians we have established a political “elite” class that enjoys benefits and privileges the general public could never dream of having.
I was originally against term limits because each election was an opportunity for change; however, with all the election corruption that has been exposed, I believe term limits are in the best interest of the public and would gladly adhere to any limit imposed.
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?
I am in favor of transparency in government. If a lobbyist or organization has written a bill for legislative consideration, that organization’s/company’s name should be prominently displayed on the bill. There are many loopholes with the Sunshine Laws. For example, during the recent reapportionment commission process, a smaller Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) developed their map proposals in private without having to discuss their process with other members of the Reapportionment Commission.
The Legislature appointing a commission to look into ethics and lobbying accountability and transparency is more of the “fox watching the hen house” than a true effort to root out unethical practices.
I dislike the excessive cost required to run for public office and would agree to a ban on campaign contributions during session since it gives an unfair advantage to an incumbent.
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?
To support their funding sources/lobbyists, the Legislature introduces too many bills each year — some bills are active for two years. It is very difficult for the average employed resident to keep up with all the activity in the Legislature as the bills are revised over and over as they pass back and forth through the Senate and House. Many objectionable bills pass without external comment, not because the public isn’t opposed, but because they didn’t know the bill was being considered.
I would limit the number of bills each committee could consider in a session and only address those of the highest priority to the constituents, not the lobbyists. I am tired of seeing bills pass that the public opposes but favored lobbyists support.
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?
I would start telling the truth and not censor facts that are in opposition to “expert opinions.” Common sense and known cures are more reliable than paid experts. I would stop the fear-mongering and expose the manipulated statistics regarding the recent pandemic, a disease with nearly a 99% recovery rate for most people with minimal co-morbidities.
Prior to injecting a medical intervention, especially a vaccine which has liability protections against lawsuits, I would require the recipient to be advised whether it is an experimental or FDA-approved product, informed of all ingredients in the injection, and provided an up-to-date report on the number of adverse reactions and deaths attributed to the product.
I would require that the government respect the constitutions of the United States of America and Hawaii, especially related to bodily integrity and surveillance. Face recognition systems (Hawaii spent millions on them) and contact tracing are invasions of personal privacy.
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 put K-12 education (and pre-school) back into the hands of parents. That would require a restructuring of the Board of Education into community districts and reinstituting elected board members by putting the repeal of the governor-appointed BOE on the ballot for voter approval. The public schools should not have been shut down.
I would also stop taking federal funds, such as the “American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief” program that comes with requirements such as requiring social and emotional learning, critical race theory, comprehensive sex education and others that are detrimental to students and their ability to learn. These federal programs are a type of bribery to have the state institute measures that they would never agree to without the monetary incentive. I would support parents in their efforts to remove pornography from school textbooks and school libraries.
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