Editor’s note: For the August 13 primary elections in Hawaii, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer a few questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities would be if elected.
The following came from Cherie Oquendo, Republican candidate for State House District 45, which includes Waianae and Makaha. The other Republican candidates are Maysana Aldeguer and Tiana Wilbur.
Access Civil Beat’s election guide for general information and learn about other primary candidates.
1. What is the biggest problem facing your district and what would you do about it?
Crime is one of the biggest problems we face in Waianae. Currently, our police force has a maximum of five to six police officers per shift for a population of more than 30,000 people. We need more police presence in our community to help deter crime and provide security. We need to get funding.
There are currently large sums of federal money being provided to Hawaii for Covid-19 relief and assistance. In January 2022, Governor Ige reported the following in response to federal funds allocated for Covid-19 and here is part of it:
— Tourism industry: $60 million, Hawaii Tourism Authority; $11 million, convention center, $41 million, Safe Travels Hawaii.
—Education: $28 million, University of Hawaii system; $1.3 million, financial need scholarships (HI Promise program).
— Infrastructure: $1.5 million, broadband infrastructure planning; $2.7 million, modernize the financial system.
The governor also said additional funds were expected.
To build a bigger and stronger police presence, we need a portion of the funds to be allocated to the Waianae District to protect our community, our ohanas and our friends. I will defend and fight for our rights to security and protection. We will no longer be ignored.
2. Many people have been talking about diversifying the local economy for many years now, and yet Hawaii still relies heavily on tourism. What, if anything, should be done differently regarding tourism and the economy?
The travel industry is our main source of income. Tourists spend over $2 billion a year in Hawaii. Although we are concerned about the negative impact on our earth, education could play a key role in minimizing and/or preventing it from happening.
Education should start on their flight with a video welcoming them to our islands and sharing our culture, one of which is collect your opala, don’t take anything from our beaches or parks, respect the land and people. The informative video should continue to be shown while tourists wait for their luggage, and an educational brochure should be placed permanently in hotel rooms.
3. An estimated 60% of Hawaii residents are struggling, a problem that goes well beyond low income and into the disappearing middle class. What ideas do you have for helping middle class and working class families struggling to continue living here?
Taxes and regulations destroy middle-class working families. Our paychecks are taxed by the federal and state governments. We are taxed again when filing our annual taxes if the government deems its citizens have not paid enough. We are taxed at groceries, retail stores, gas pumps, buying new vehicles, buying a home, eating out, and utilities, to name a few. -ones.
Hawaii has so many regulations that prevent housing development and cause difficulty in opening a small business and keeping existing businesses open. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and it is here that part of the middle class is located and is greatly affected. If we hope to keep our families on these islands, we must reform and deregulate laws that negatively impact our citizens.
4. Hawaii has the most lopsided legislature in the country, with only one Republican in the Senate and just four in the House. How would you ensure an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability of decisions? What do you see as the consequences of single-party control, and how would you address them?
Unfortunately, there has been one-party rule for nearly 40 years. The only way to have open dialogue, transparency and accountability for decisions is to increase the number of Republicans in the Legislative Assembly. This will promote non-partisan ideas and implement bills that contribute to a positive impact in our communities.
Voters need to be aware that every vote counts and not buy into the old adage that “I’m just one person and my vote doesn’t count”. We have the consequence of a one-party rule; big government, overspending, high taxes, self-imposed regulations, and with rising inflation, our Hawaiian citizens are primarily moving to the red states.
5. Hawaii is the only western state without a statewide citizens’ initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I am in favor of a statewide citizens’ initiative process. This would give every Hawaiian citizen a stronger voice with the ability to propose and vote on constitutional amendments without referral from their legislators.
6. Thanks to their campaign war chests and name familiarity, incumbents are almost always re-elected in legislative races in Hawaii. Should there be term limits for state legislators, like there are for the governor’s office and county councils? Why or why not?
I absolutely advocate term limits. Corruption is endemic when career politicians stay in power.
7. Hawaii has recently experienced a number of significant corruption scandals, prompting the state’s House of Representatives to appoint a commission to improve government transparency through ethics and lobbying reforms. What will you do to ensure accountability in the Legislative Assembly? Are you open to ideas such as requiring enforcement of the Sunshine Law and open documents laws in the Legislative Assembly or banning campaign contributions during the session?
When transparency is allowed, accountability always follows suit. The Sunshine Law requirement allows citizens of Hawaii to observe and participate in debates and decisions.
I support banning campaign contributions during the session. I believe it is unnecessary and can be used to influence the decisions of legislators that will not benefit their constituents.
8. How would you make the legislature more transparent and accessible to the public? Opening of 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?
Transparency should be the rule in government. The public should be allowed to consult the records of discussions and decisions before, during and after each session.
The citizens of Hawaii should be served first and conference committees should be open to the public.
Full disclosure should be required of lobbyists so that the public is well informed of their intentions.
9. Hawaii has seen growing division on politics, development, health mandates and other issues. What would you do to bridge these gaps and bring people together despite their differences?
Politics has become a divisive game. He managed to pit the poor against the rich, the Democrats against the Republicans, the conservatives against the liberals, and the list goes on. We must return to the basics of human decency and stop the great division. Take responsibility for your own actions and remember that we are culturally connected.
The aloha spirit must be in action at all times and its influence must be continued beginning with government officials and working through the public.
10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed many flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, ranging 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 a great idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
For Hawaii to have a viable and sustainable future, we must deregulate laws that make no sense, such as zoning laws that prevent the development of affordable housing, and promote local businesses by removing regulations that impede progress. good and honest.
We need to pass sensible laws and promote the trust and safety of Hawaiian citizens. It’s sad how common sense is no longer common.
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