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Candidate Q&A: State House District 49 — Kilomana Danner – Honolulu Civil Beat – Honolulu Civil Beat

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“I would say that anyone that believes themselves to be the only qualified person capable of representing the people for unlimited terms probably needs to take a humility break and a reality check.”
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 Kilomana Danner, Republican candidate for state House District 49, which includes Kaneohe, Puohala Village and Maunawili. His opponent is Democrat Scot Matayoshi.
Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.
1. What is the biggest issue facing your district, and what would you do about it?
The high cost of living. In Hawaii we pay the highest electricity rates and the highest gasoline prices. We are second in the nation in food costs and personal income tax rates.
Repeal or reform the Jones Act. The Jones Act requires that all goods coming into Hawaii from other American ports must be shipped only on American flagged, staffed and built ships. This requirement makes it cheaper to import oil from Russia, Libya, Sudan and Argentina than it is to purchase oil produced in Alaska. We then pretend that we are the greenest of green environmentalists, trying to meet goals set by Democrats to be 100% energy independent of oil by 2045.
In the meantime, 60-75% of our electricity is generated by oil purchased from some of the worst foreign regimes in the world. Regimes that have no regard for environmental standards for oil production that American producers must adhere to.
I would move to eliminate the general excise tax on food, medicine and health care services, and lower the state income tax rate.
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?
I do not believe that reducing tourism is the way to diversify the economy. Increasing opportunities in other sectors will bring diversification. Multinational airline and hotel corporations should be able to market Hawaii as a tourist destination without $60 million taken from taxpayers every year. I would defund the $60 million per year budget of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and put that money toward developing agricultural lots on DHHL lands held by the state.
There are 28,000 Native Hawaiians on the DHHL wait list that are eligible for residential and agriculture lots as required by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920. This federal law became state law as part of the Hawaii Admission Act of 1959. The law requires the state government to make these lands available now, not in another 120 years.
The state of Hawaii should obey its own law and provide access to land and water to create 28,000 agricultural lots across this state. The government could then just get out of the way and watch Native Hawaiian landholders, working and partnering together with Hawaiians of every ethnicity, create the greatest economic diversification of agriculture and local food production in Hawaii in 120 years.
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?
Lower the cost of living. Lower taxes. Develop government systems that are required to live within their means. Elect officials that are determined to find ways to deliver services in more efficient ways, rather than looking to increase regulations, budgets and taxes as the solution to every problem.
As a grandfather, I have already experienced, as thousands of others have, seeing their children and grandchildren face the reality of having to leave these islands because the high costs of remaining here give them no other choice.
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?
The single-party control of this state is the direct cause of every governmental failure at every level of government. The reason you have 500-foot windmills next to homes and schools in Kahuku is because of the single-party control of the government. The reason you have trains that cannot be built without years of corruption, cost overruns, and delay is because of single-party control of the government. The reason the State of Hawaii can continue to break its own state laws in regards to the Hawaiian Homestead Act for 62 years is because of single-party control of the government. The reason you can have problems go unsolved for years on end is due to single-party control of the government.
Single-party control of government does not require that solutions be brought forth and implemented to help the people. Because with single-party control you are accountable only to your party and the special interests that funnel monies into your party and your campaigns. Single-party control of Hawaii gives the Democrat Party absolute power over every aspect of government. They hold themselves accountable to no one but themselves.
5. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
At present, I do not support a citizens initiative process. It may be a process that becomes necessary at some point simply because elected officials will not or cannot find solutions to long-standing problems. Problems and issues that remain unresolved election cycle after election cycle.
I believe the citizens initiative process is the process of citizens electing their representatives. All Hawaii citizens, those who choose to vote and those who choose not to vote, are ultimately responsible for the type of government they will live under. More importantly, each citizen’s individual initiative, the action or inaction each citizen takes or does not take, every voter or nonvoter of today, will be held responsible for the kind of government their grandchildren will be forced to live under.
If you are satisfied with your state government, which has been under the single-party control of the Democrat Party for 62 years, then continue to put Democrats in power. I’m 63 years old; when I take the initiative to vote or run for office today, it is not for my today, it is for the tomorrow of my grandchildren.
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 do believe that term limits should be in place for the Hawaii Legislature. I think that holding office for an unlimited period of time makes you more and more beholden to the special interests that continue funding your campaign with increasing amounts of money every election cycle. I would say that anyone that believes themselves to be the only qualified person capable of representing the people for unlimited terms probably needs to take a humility break and a reality check.
Unlimited extended years and terms in political office benefit the individual politician, much more than it does the people they represent. There is no public benefit to unlimited terms for incumbents. If there were a benefit, we would not still have the same unaddressed issues that were in place when they were first elected years ago.
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 open to all of the above. Corruption and lack of transparency is the fruit of single-party control. I believe every campaign contributor for every elected legislator should be published. is a fairly easy site to navigate. Click on your state and the candidate or officeholder’s name, you may be surprised to see the amount of monies these politicians are able to collect. You will also find that the amount of monies they are able to collect increases each time they run for another term of office.
Frankly, the system we have today seems to promote that the person that can put out the most and biggest, glossiest signs with the best photo of their best smile is the best candidate for the office. When in reality, all that really means is that they are able to raise a lot of money. Before you vote for an incumbent again, check if there has been any improvement on any issue that they promised to fix three election cycles ago.
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 would the Legislature change its own internal rules to be more open?
All of the above. Provide access to nontraditional news media to video record all sessions. The problems we continue to have with government corruption, lack of transparency and, an inability to solve longstanding issues, are not caused by particular individual officeholders of a particular party.
It is the overall single-party control of the entire system itself. It is a system that is accountable only to its own party and the special interests, that breeds systemic corruption and a lack of transparency. It is a system as a whole that covers for itself. So that the same problems and issues that are apparent today are able to fester and grow larger over many years without solutions. The single-party system protects and covers itself for years on end without providing solutions.
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?
We need to learn from experiences of the past two years regarding the government overreach that caused harm in all areas of our lives. Hawaii statute gives the governor emergency management powers for up to 60 days, after which time the elected lawmakers are to become involved.
Gov. Ige was able to take for himself full authority to issue orders that affected every aspect of our lives. He told you how many people could come to your home for dinner. He ordered you to be vaccinated if you wanted to go to a restaurant. He made determinations on whether you could attend church. It amazes me when I look back on some of the crazy, scary things the governor did with “his” power.
He was able to extend his powers, unchallenged by any legislators, by issuing 25 new emergency proclamations, each for an additional 60 days. The governor is not elected to be a lawmaker from his position in the executive branch. We the people elect senators and representatives to be lawmakers. These emergency management statutes must be fixed so that the governor cannot by his own decision, take full authority for himself, for unlimited periods of time.
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.
Eliminate the single school district system. Make each island its own school district, with Oahu being divided into six districts. School board members elected by district voters would hire a superintendent to implement the locally elected board’s direction and vision.
Our current system is run by one superintendent, hired by a school board with members appointed by the governor. That superintendent then appoints six assistant superintendents and 15 complex superintendents. That gives us a bureaucratic top-heavy system run by 22 superintendent-type positions, far removed from the parents.
This kind of government bureaucracy must be eliminated in all systems of government in our state.
The official state motto is, Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina I ka Pono, the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.
The Hawaiian Homestead Act has been federal law for 120 years. It has been state law for 62 years as part of the Statehood Act. Give the land to the people as you are required to do by your own laws. This state can never live up to its motto in regards to righteousness when it refuses to obey its own laws.
One big, innovative, specific idea for Hawaii? Obey your own laws.
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