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Hawaii State Senate, District 20

Duties: The Hawaii State Senate is the upper chamber of the Hawaii State Legislature. The Hawaii State Senate is a part-time body.Areas Represented: Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, and WaipahuHow Elected: The senate consists of 25 members elected from an equal number of constituent districts across the islands. A Senator must be a Hawaii resident for not less than three years, is at least 18 years old, and is a qualified voter of the senatorial 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: Four 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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    Feena M. BONOAN

  • Candidate picture

    Mike GABBARD

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?

I have been working towards this my whole life.There are certain things I am, have been, or have done that I feel make me more qualified to fill this position than others.I am a Navy veteran, HPU graduate and I have a from rags to middle class story.I have experience in community relations, non-profits, and small businesses.I have first hand knowledge of the criminal justice system from being a prison guard and from decades of visiting my brother.For me this is a part of my contribution to society and civic duty, it is also what I like to call a life tile.Life tiles are things that I can be proud of, things that few dare to do, or have the opportunity to do.I would be honored to add to my life, serving the people of Hawaii as State Senator.
The economy of Hawaii is in trouble. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of one party rule and bad fiscal choices.We are going to have to cut spending, reevaluate our relationship to government employee unions, and allow for new profitable businesses to grow and thrive here.There are few things as likely to create an economic boost to Hawaii as the gaming industry.I would like to point out a few things here:1.No one wants a casino in their neighborhood.2.Hypocrisy of the“9th Island”3.Repeat offenders bogging down the criminal justice system.I say let the folks who are running them already set up their businesses in a zoned area,stop arresting our neighbors,and save a trip to Vegas.
Although Hawaii has had the highest rate of electing female U.S. Representatives in the nation since it gained statehood in 1959, it wasn’t until 2012 that Hawaii elected its first woman U.S. Senator, Mazie Hirono. I belong to Zonta International, a 100 year old organization that works globally to advance the status of women. In the “Perfect Zonta World,” in which women's rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential, women would have access to all resources and are represented in decision making positions on an equal basis with men. I don't have to be the first woman president, I just want there to be one. I am excited to support Jo Jorgenson for president this year as the Libertarian candidate
It’s 2020 and the technology is there to be more transparent, but there are security and privacy issues that must always be considered. I share every citizen’s frustration with this issue! Ultimately it comes down to good decision making about what is shared to the public. I do believe anything that is funded by taxpayer money should be available to the public and the press to audit. I truly don’t think this is a situation that can be fixed with legislation. How can morals be legislated? By the time one runs for office, their moral code is basically set…by life experiences, by parents, by peers, or by religious beliefs.
Yes I think this is a good idea.
The climate is changing, and Hawaii should adapt not through government mandates, but through individual choices.I have a personal vendetta with plastics and trash on the streets, I will continue to pick up the trash.I can’t do it all by myself, I’m only stopping if it is in my lane. I do and will continue to encourage others to be vigilant and have some initiative, instead of ignoring the trash.There has been a new “R” added to the old green mantra, it is “Refuse.”I will continue to encourage folks to refuse plastics and extra trash pawned off by whoever is giving it away.On another note Hawaii’s public utilities commission has locked the state in old energy systems which are inflexible with more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Hindsight is 2020 they say, and we all are working with more information than we started with on the pandemic. Hawaii is and was very lucky due to quick actions that started voluntarily in January. We can and should have a discussion about best practices and processes, what is needed and things that are not. The exercise police, for instance, was over board. Studies show that Hawaii’s economic depression may lead to hundreds of deaths from suicide or substance abuse, so the state should have taken a more balanced approach to protecting the public’s health. It should have simply encouraged safety measures such as voluntary mask wearing and voluntary social distancing for people at high risk while allowing freedom of movement and commerce.
I’ve represented West O`ahu in the State Senate for the last 14 years. During this time, we’ve seen the Kapolei area grow into a vibrant and high-quality place for people to raise their families. I’ve been able to work with my colleagues in the State Legislature to secure funding for the UH West O`ahu campus, the Kapolei Court Complex, the Kualaka`i Parkway, the Kapolei Interchange Project Phases 1 &2, Ho`okele Elementary, and Honouliuli Middle School (East Kapolei). These additions to our community have greatly improved our quality of life. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, and it would be an honor to continue helping and serving the people on the westside.
My top priority this session was to pass HB1819, which allows farmers to apply directly to the USDA to become licensed to grow, process, and sell hemp products. This would allow us to create a new Hawaii-branded hemp industry, create jobs, and diversify our economy that now relies too heavily on tourism. Hemp is an amazing plant that can produce over 25,000 products. (And, no, you can’t get high on industrial hemp because the THC content is .3% or less). I’m happy the bill passed the legislature and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature to be signed into law. Hemp, hemp, hooray! My second goal is to assist in efforts to create high-paying jobs on the Westside so that Senate District 20 residents can work more closely to where they live.
We need to encourage more women to run for public office. I helped my wife, Carol, get elected as a member of the Board of Education and my daughter Tulsi Gabbard assume office as a State Representative, City Council member, member of the Hawai`i congressional delegation, and even a candidate for U.S. President. I’ll continue speaking with young women and girls in our schools to encourage them to consider public service as a career opportunity.

At the Legislature, our city and county councils, and government boards and commissions, we need to make much improvement in allowing for remote public testimony to accommodate those who are working or can’t be at hearings in person because of where they live. This will make a big difference in allowing people to know what’s going on in government and for getting them involved in the policy making process.
Yes, I voted in support of SB 2005 in 2020 and would like to see this important legislation be signed into law.
As the Senate Agriculture and Environment Chair, I'll continue supporting legislation like SB 2060 which we passed during our legislative session that ended on July 10. This bill would strengthen the state's coastal zone management policy and improve our overall resiliency to climate change. The bill identifies sea level rise as one of the coastal hazards that the state must address. It would improve the protection of beaches and beach ecosystems that are under threat from sea level rise. The bill prohibits shoreline erosion structures (hardening) on sandy beaches unless the granting of a variance is clearly in the public interest.
We have the lowest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the country, so it’s important we recognize that we’ve been able to save many lives by implementing our stay-at-home orders and continuing to physical distance and wear face coverings if we do go out. Hopefully, we can avoid state worker furloughs to prevent the cutting of important state programs. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations crisis that occurred early on taught us we need to quickly improve our outdated IT infrastructure at DLIR. We also need to continue to process delayed unemployment claims and provide grant/loan information to small businesses that are struggling. I want to take advantage of low-interest federal loans to keep our state government afloat.