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Hawaii State House, District 17

Duties: The Hawaii State House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Hawaii State Legislature. The Hawaii House of Representatives is a part-time body.Areas Represented: Hawaii Kai, Kalama ValleyHow Elected: The house consists of 51 members elected from an equal number of respective representative districts. A Representative must be a Hawaii resident not less than three years, is at least 18 years old, and is a qualified voter of the representative district from which the person seeks to be elected. Candidates for state legislative offices who are nominated in the primary election and are unopposed in the general election will be deemed elected to the office sought after the primary election regardless of the number of votes received by that candidate (Hawaii State Constitution, Article III, Section 4).Term: Two years, not subject to term limits. Base Salary (2020): $62,604 plus $225/day if living outside Oahu, $10/day for members living on Oahu; Senate President - $70,104

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  • Candidate picture

    Keith KOGACHI
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Gene WARD
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

Please provide a brief Candidate Statement describing your qualifications and why you are running for this office.

What are your top two goals and how will you achieve them if elected?

What do you think about the state of women in Hawaii's elected and appointed public offices? What have you done to support women in government? What will you do?

How would you address concerns about a lack of transparency at all levels of government?

Do you support automatically registering people to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or state identification card, provided they can voluntarily opt out of registering. (Senate Bill 2005 passed the senate and is currently in the Hawaii House Judiciary.)

What, if any, actions would you work towards in your first 100 days to address the threats facing Hawaii due to climate change?

Do you believe the response to the COVID-19 crisis could have been improved, and if so, how?

Phone (808) 542-8005
Email Address keith@keithkogachi.com
I believe my broad work experience in the financial field including nearly 20 years as a practicing Certified Public Accountant with an international public accounting firm, 10 years with a locally owned insurance company serving in various management capacities including as director of internal audit, chief investment officer and treasurer and over 3 years in state government as audit administrator and over 2 years on temporary assignment as the administrator of the public works division, the state's centralized engineering function, provides me with the relevant financial experience to contribute to solving the budget challenges our state faced before the COVID-19 pandemic which is now severely exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic
My top two goals would be first, ensuring that the State’s plan for controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus which at the time of the next legislative session in January 2021 may have been fully reopened to include tourism is successful in controlling the spread of the virus. The second goal, given my background and experience in financial matters, would be to follow-up on the State’s plan for economic recovery. I believe a lesson learned from the Great Recession is that we should avoid budget cuts and the resulting furloughs and layoffs that may delay or prolong the recovery in our economy. Accordingly, we should also ensure that unemployment benefits remain in place for as long as possible (including extensions as required).
I believe there should be more women in elected and appointed positions based on our population of women which make up about 50% of our population. My prior actions as regards supporting women in government has been as an administrator with the state to encourage and support women candidates who were qualified to apply for open positions being advertised that often were supervisory or management positions within state government. As part of my responsibilities as an administrator I have also participated on interview panels that selected women finalists for open management positions. As a legislator I will continue this support by supporting appropriate legislation that eliminates unfair barriers for women.
I support public records laws which for the most part was suspended as part of the Governor’s emergency supplemental proclamation (SP) issued on March 16, 2020 as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension, covering public agency meetings and records and information practices, among other laws, were suspended to “more effectively provide emergency relief and engage in emergency management functions, including, but not limited to, implementing social distancing measures, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Governor subsequently issued in another SP on May 5 an update restoring portions of the law related to public agency meetings and information practices.
I support the intent of SB 2005. As a follow-up to passage of this bill, we should be prepared to take other actions to encourage participation by the registrant by voting in elections. I believe the new law for mail in ballots should facilitate this initiative and look forward to monitoring voter turnout results to determine if more needs to be done to encourage participation by our residents in our elections.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) issued a report in November 2019 to comply with the law requiring annual reporting to the Governor about information necessary to track progress toward implementing climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. The report addressed implementation of adaptation to sea level rise impacts which I believe is a major threat facing Hawaii due to climate change as the impacts to communities, beaches, property owners and our key infrastructure such as airports, harbors and highways (along shorelines). As a process is in place for addressing rising sea levels, I would recommend that we continue to monitor progress by the state (DLNR) to address this issue and I would recommend changes as required.
I believe there are certain lessons learned, among others, that we should focus on going forward. The first area of focus is the State’s preparedness to handle a resurgence through, as already communicated by State and County leaders, enhanced and robust additional testing capacity, contact tracing and quarantining capacity. Other areas include our infrastructure such as bed capacity and qualified health care professionals to handle any resurgence in the virus. The second area of focus is our infrastructure to handle crisis situations. These include technology and human resource policies. Technology alternatives beyond new or modern technology and a more flexible policy for temporary assignments during crisis situations should be explored.
I add to the legislature private sector executive experience and a mixture of diplomatic/relational overseas experience which will be greatly needed in the 2021 Session. I have owned my own business for 15 years and trained over 300 entrepreneurs in 10 countries to start their own business while working with the United Nations in Africa and Dr. George Kanahele. I have served as a Peace Corps Volunteer as well as Peace Corps Country Director and know what the heart and core of public service is. Lastly, I am a product of the University of Hawaii-Manoa where I earned a Ph.D. in Economic Sociology, and had the honor to be appointed by President Bush as a Senior Democracy Advisor in the foreign aid office – USAID’s Office of Democracy.
Saving lives is my first goal. This will be accomplished by massive testing for the coronavirus. The goal is COVID-free schools where kids and teachers will be regularly tested and feel safe, next COVID-free airlines to Hawaii, COVID-free Hotels, and COVID-free workplaces. Saving small businesses is my 2nd goal: More small businesses are dying in Hawaii than there are new cases of the virus. The state is ranked last in the nation for ‘friendliness to small businesses’ and we must win back the confidence of the business community by cutting taxes and regulations to get businesses back on their feet. My third goal is to get the State’s fiscal house in order to provide essential services while dealing with huge deficits and less tax revenue
In case you didn’t notice it, the Minority Caucus is made of 60% women, and I think this makes a clear statement in itself, especially in comparison to the Majority where there is less that half this amount of women in the Hawaii House of Representatives. What have I done? As one of the longest servicing House Minority Leaders whose job it is to recruit, train, and fund candidates for office, I believe the results of our Caucus speak for themselves, and we expect more women to be elected in the Minority Caucus in the 2020 elections. Also my daughter from China just completed law school and is expected to become an exemplary public servant and diplomat. And women also dominate the University of Hawaii in numbers as well as graduation rates.
As a member of the “loyal opposition” this question points to the danger/consequences of a super-majority. The League may not see it this way, but in a democracy without checks and balances, everything can remain secret. We have introduced numerous bills over the years for transparency in budgeting – including having footnotes on what each bill will cost before it passes; we have also introduced bills to have all hearings televised and broadcast to the public, as well as offering neighbor islanders distance testifying over the internet. Lastly, I have advocated making “gut and replace” an illegal maneuver in the House as well as spoke on the floor against the Speaker to have the power to say what Hearings/Sessions will be covered by Olelo
Yes, I support the measure. We must get out of the basement of having the lowest voter turnout in the nation to being one of the highest. I felt so strongly about this a few years ago, I introduced the Australian Ballot Bill that made voting compulsory or you would be fined $50 for not voting. I got pemmulled for introducing the bill, but it signified how committed I was/am to get people to vote. Hopefully all mail in voting will give us an uptick, though experiences in other states suggest it may only be temporary. A super-majority legislature is to some people as boring as a one-sided football game and when the score gets too high for one team, fans from both sides of the contest leave the stadium before the game is over. Is thisRus?
The Legislature meets only 60 days per year and I believe climate change is an important planning variable for building permits and development plans. Proximity to the sea and shoreline setbacks are 2 factors that impact our visitor industry by dictating location and structural integrity of buildings. Another threat is the bleaching our reefs, which was mitigated in the 2018 Session by a bill I introduced in 2017 to ban the chemical oxybenzone in sunscreen in Hawaii. Our reefs are endangered by this chemical and the highest concentrations have been found at Hanauma Bay and Waikiki. This legislation was championed by Friends of Hanauma Bay and goes into effect in 2021 - after allowing a 3-year window for the cosmetic industry to recalibrate.
Many leaders were way over their heads on how to handle the crisis. E.g two DOH professionals (Anderson/Park) were locked into untenable positions and had to step down after causing a lot of harm by their denial of the importance of COVID testing. Instead they implemented “testing after-the-fact” eg Hale Nani, OCCC, Hilo Vets’ Home, etc. Biggest mistake was protecting the most vulnerable too late and learned nothing from Mayor DeBlasio’s colossal mistake in NYC nursing homes. The solution is Hawaii’s own Oceanit Labs which has a 10-minute self-administered saliva test for $20 and is being overlooked. Dr. Sullivan’s “Allure-19” is self-administered like an over-the-counter pregnancy test, and could be Hawaii’s 1st pharmaceutical industry!