Photos of Congressional Candidates Doug Chin, Sam Puletasi, Kaniela Ing, and Raymond Vinole

From Social Security to Immigration to the Trump Presidency, Where Do They Stand?

Editor’s note: Thirteen candidates are vying to succeed U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in Congress next January. Earlier this year, Hanabusa decided to leave her seat in the Congress and challenge incumbent Gov. David Ige in the Democratic primary for governor. Of the 13 candidates who filed for the District 1 race, seven are Democrats, two are Republicans, two are Libertarians, two are running as nonpartisan candidates and one is a Green Party member. The top vote getter in each party will square off in the Nov. 6 general election.

The Hawai‘i Herald compiled a questionnaire to find out where the candidates stand on the issues. We hope their responses help you in making up your mind when you vote in the primary election.

We start the questionnaire with a brief profile of the eight candidates who responded, in alphabetical order.

ED CASE

Current occupation: Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Outrigger Hotels Hawaii

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: United States Congressman (2002-2007); Hawai‘i State Representative (1994-2002; Majority Leader); Mänoa Neighborhood Board (1985-1989; Chair); Legislative Assistant, U.S. Representative/Senator Spark Matsunaga (1975-1978).

DOUG CHIN

Current occupation: Lieutenant Governor of Hawai‘i

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: Hawai‘i Attorney General; Managing Director, City & County of Honolulu; Acting City Prosecutor and First Deputy, City Prosecutor of the City & County of Honolulu.

BETH FUKUMOTO

Current occupation: Hawai‘i State Representative

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience:

KANIELA SAITO ING

Current occupation: Hawai‘i State Representative

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: Three-term State Representative, Majority Policy Leader; Neighborhood Board member; President, Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i.

DONNA MERCADO KIM

Current occupation: Hawai‘i State Senator

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: 35 years of public service: has served in every level of state and county government — Honolulu City Council, Hawai‘i State House of Representatives and currently in the Hawai‘i State Senate.

ERNEST “ERNIE” YORIHIKO MARTIN

Current occupation: Chairman and Presiding Officer, Honolulu City Council; attorney-at-law

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: Member, Honolulu City Council

SAM PULETASI

Current occupation: Retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent

Party affiliation: Democrat

Previous political experience: Neighborhood Board and active candidate.

RAYMOND RENE VINOLE

Current occupation: Founder, Eagle National Committee

Party affiliation: Republican

Previous political experience: N/A

IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE, WHAT ARE THE FIVE MOST PRESSING ISSUES FACING OUR COUNTRY TODAY — AND WHAT OUT-OF-THE-BOX IDEAS DO YOU HAVE FOR
SOLVING THEM?

ED CASE:

1) Failure of our federal government to lead in solving our nation’s problems due to political division, dysfunction, special interest influence and other factors. It is unfortunate that the “out-of-the-box” solution is what any of us must do to reach agreement and move forward in our personal and work lives: stop yelling and fighting and start talking and working.

2) The rapidly worsening condition of our federal finances and budget due to the growing imbalance between revenues and expenses, resulting in exploding federal debt. No personal or business checkbook could be run this way, and to make matters worse, we are borrowing the money to cover the deficit from our future and from other countries like China. One solution is “pay-go,” meaning that any spending increase or revenue reduction must be matched by an adjustment elsewhere so that the result is budget-neutral.

3) The long-term stability of our economy and its ability to continue to generate good jobs for all Americans. Although it is doing fairly well now, the worst mistake is to take it for granted and assume it will just continue along. History teaches us that we must always keep taxes and regulations at reasonable levels so that businesses, including Hawai‘i’s mostly small businesses, can survive and prosper.

4) The long-term stability of our social safety net programs, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but also many more that assist citizens in need such as low-income seniors and others. The solutions are very basic: assure adequate funding; assure efficient operation and delivery; curb waste, fraud and abuse; and ensure that the programs work in the great diversity of Hawai‘i far from and not understood by [Washington,] D.C.

5) Our country’s relationship with the rest of the world. We have borne the responsibility of world leadership for generations now and have made our world better for it. We have also benefited back home from being part of the larger world through trade and other interaction with other countries. Hawai‘i tourism is just one clear example. Yet, today among some, there is a move to withdraw from the rest of the world, which is a very dangerous trend. Our best hope over the next generations is to continue to engage with other countries toward world peace, stability and interaction.

DOUG CHIN: 

I know how hard it is for Hawai‘i families to make ends meet, pay the bills and put food on the table. That’s why I will never stop working to make sure Hawai‘i families have a chance of success and that we face our challenges head-on.

You can count on me to fight for more affordable housing for Hawai‘i families; to protect Hawai‘i’s natural beauty and address climate change; invest in our green energy future; to give every child a quality education and protect them from the gun violence epidemic sweeping our nation; and to work with our congressional delegation to ensure Hawai‘i continues to receive the federal funds we need to thrive.

BETH FUKUMOTO: 

Housing is the single greatest need in Hawai‘i and in the United States. We should invest in federal grant programs that are specifically targeted to municipalities who are innovating responsible and climate-resilient solutions to housing shortages.

We should be using our federal funding for affordable units that encourage green living and help achieve a federal 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2050. While many municipalities can achieve renewable energy before 2035, it may take extra time to move the entire U.S. to the same standard. I’m committed to setting and meeting those goals with investments in grid modernization, renewable technologies and a “first hurt, first helped” policy that would eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and invest those savings in communities previously reliant on and hurt by the fossil fuel economy.

In addition to housing and energy, healthcare, cybersecurity and the cost of higher education are the most pressing issues. I support a single-payer system or Medicare for All plan that leverages the bargaining power of the American people to lower prices of prescription drugs and other skyrocketing costs. I support student debt cancellation.

Finally, I think cybersecurity goes unmentioned too often. Nearly every aspect of our daily lives is reliant on technologies vulnerable to state-sponsored cyber attacks. Congress needs to get up to speed on digital threats and start focusing defense funding more heavily on cyber defense
immediately.

KANIELA ING:

1) We must get big money out of politics. Every pressing issue facing our country today comes down to one thing: money in politics. We need to repeal Citizens United, stop the flow of seedy corporate money into politicians’ hands and reclaim our democracy from corporate interests. I am the only candidate to lead by example and refuse all corporate money.

2) We need housing-for-all. Congress should invest heavily in at-cost construction of social housing in high-need areas like Hawai‘i while providing federal loans with 0 percent down payments everywhere. A tenants’ bill of rights would protect renters from unjust evictions, promote diverse communities and ensure rental housing is truly affordable. Taxes on vacant units worth over $2 million would curtail nonresident speculation.

3) In today’s economy, universal access to quality education must start at Pre-K and continue through college. I championed free community college in the Legislature and will champion tuition-free college in Congress. We must also provide relief to the millions of Americans buried in student loan debt.

4) Restoring the Affordable Care Act is not enough: America needs to join the rest of the developed world and provide healthcare for all. As a nation, we pay far more than any other country to provide inadequate healthcare to only some of our people. We need Medicare for all.

5) A Green New Deal. Waikïkï could be underwater in my son’s lifetime. Climate change is a global problem that requires strong American leadership to address. I supported 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 in the Hawai‘i state Legislature and will continue to make it a national goal by 2035 by investing $1 trillion in sustainable infrastructure to reboot our economy and aggressively combat climate change.

DONNA MERCADO KIM:

1) Lack of responsible leadership in our Oval Office, resulting in a decaying image worldwide, loss of important allies, chaos in the executive branch with shocking dismissals and resignations and a disregard for the truth.

This is obviously a very complex and deeply troubling situation that will require great cohesion on the part of the legislative branch. Thus, my experience in bringing people together and working collaboratively will be a key factor in forging alliances in the U.S. Congress. Only by reaching out and working with all members of Congress will we be able to achieve common sense reform and solutions. I will fight to uphold and restore the principles upon which our country was founded and work tirelessly with others in the House to protect the values that we hold dear such as respect for the security of our seniors, protection of our environment and the wise use of diplomacy.

2) The reversals on the Affordable Care Act and the attack on senior citizens’ right to Social Security and Medicare. Health care is a human right. I am committed to protecting health care and senior citizen programs that are vital to the fabric of our society. Hawai‘i led the nation in providing quality and affordable health care with our Prepaid Health Care Act and I will always work to ensure our kupuna have access to the health care they need. The original premise of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care affordable and accessible to all. By working together with all constituencies, I will advocate for making adjustments to better manage the program’s costs and effectiveness. We need to revalidate the fundamental assumptions to ensure we are meeting the original objectives of the ACA while at the same time recognizing that health care for all is a human right, not a privilege. I will do everything in my power to preserve and expand Medicare and fight to ensure continued and expanded Social Security for our senior citizens.

3) The attack on our pristine and precious natural wild places. Politics has no place in scientific knowledge and achievement, particularly when that knowledge can preserve and protect our planet for future generations. Ignoring the advice of scientists throughout the world regarding the dire impacts of climate change is an irresponsible and reprehensible position. I will not compromise on protecting Hawai‘i’s or our nation’s land, air and water. Recently, our environmental laws have been significantly weakened because of Trump’s de-emphasis of federal environmental laws and his rejection of the science on global warming. This is despite the recent and more frequent catastrophic natural disasters affecting our country and the world. I will strive toward re-establishing our nation’s environmental protection laws and stop the current direction of the EPA and administration. I oppose the erosion of our precious national wild places. I will reach out and work with environmental groups towards this effort.

4) The disregard for the importance of public education. Public education is a critical equalizer. I am a public school graduate and if not for public education, I wouldn’t be who I am today. This is why I have always fought for greater opportunities for public education.

It is imperative that our youth have access to high quality, affordable higher education. The skyrocketing cost of college has burdened graduates with huge loan debt. I will fight for low to zero interest rates on student debt and make it easier for graduates to pay off their loans. I will push for incentives such as granting federal funds to states that lower tuition costs for quality education.

An educated citizenry is the most important national product we have. We must address the deteriorating quality of our schools, properly compensate teachers and insist on a great education for all. To this end, I will work to increase graduate student stipends, maintain open access to community colleges, lower interest rates on federal student loans, and improve salaries for teachers and funding for school infrastructure.

5) The erosion of the middle class as working families struggle to make ends meet. As I grew up, both my parents worked to make ends meet. We lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Today, middle class families continue to struggle. Government has to do a better job of attracting high-paying industries through tax incentives and less government regulation. It is becoming harder and harder for small businesses to sustain themselves. High-paying jobs are going to more business-friendly states or to foreign counties. Additionally, workplace policies have not kept up with the needs of our changing workforce, and the federal minimum wage lags far behind the states’ minimum wage.

Affordable housing is a huge component as middle class families strive for home ownership. All levels of government — federal, state and county officials — must work together, and I will lead this effort to stop the erosion of the middle class. Our great middle class is what distinguished our nation and made it great. We cannot become a county of “haves” and “have-nots.”

ERNIE MARTIN:

The biggest issues facing our community are access to affordable housing and homelessness. We need to increase the federal minimum wage to resemble a living wage. Federal resources, such as HOME funds, Community Development Block Grant funding, low-income housing tax credits, and others must be effectively managed in coordination with the county and state. There must be a comprehensive plan to address homelessness and affordable housing, one with measurable benchmarks and community buy-in. Too often, once the federal resources are awarded, we lose track of the implementation. I would require regular progress reports as part of a coordinated effort with the county and state.

Infrastructure and transportation improvements go hand-in-hand with increasing access to affordable housing. Transit-oriented development represents our greatest opportunity to create truly affordable housing that our workforce can afford. We must work together to ensure the successful completion of the entire rail line, from East Kapolei to Ala Moana, and be sure that we efficiently plan the communities and development around each station to meet the immediate housing needs of the community.

In addition to ensuring that our veterans are not neglected or shorted with respect to the benefits that they have earned, I believe it is imperative that we also increase congressional oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure timely delivery of services to veterans through a more streamlined and efficient operation. I would work directly with veterans’ advocacy groups to identify barriers and sponsor legislation to remove them.

SAM PULETASI: 

Immigration; Economic development; Military; Homeless; High cost of living; Poverty.

RAYMOND VINOLE: 

Economic growth; Job creation; Border security; Peace through strength abroad; Overturn abortion and assisted suicide; Overturn gay marriage.

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