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Hawaii State Representative, Dist 50

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: Moku Manu Island, Popoia Island, a portion of KailuaHow 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 (FY2022): $62,604 plus $225/day if living outside Oahu, $10/day for members living on Oahu; Speaker of the House - $70,104

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    Kathy THURSTON
    (Rep)

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    Toni C. DIFANTE
    (Dem)

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    Natalia HUSSEY-BURDICK
    (Dem)

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    Michael LEE
    (Dem)

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    Esera D.L. VEGAS
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

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

How would you stop corruption or the appearance of corruption as a State Legislator?

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?

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Campaign Phone 808-688-3481
Campaign Mailing Address PO Box 342181
Kailua, HI 96734
I was born & raised in Kailua, and have worked in politics for the last 5 years since Senator Laura Thielen invited me to work with her. Before that I was studying Biology (pre-med), because I like science & want to help people, but after working in her office I realized that my calling is to help people through legislation. I prefer supporting roles rather than being in the spotlight, so when I learned that my district Representative isn’t seeking re-election I tried to find another candidate to support. But I was unable to find anyone willing to run who has been as involved in my community as I was, and we need more women in office, so I decided it was time to step up.
This is one of the main reasons I’m running: to end the stagnant, pay-to-play culture that is currently prevalent in the Legislature. I’d start by removing the Legislature’s exemption from Chapter 91 - the Sunshine Law. Another low-hanging fruit is disallowing incumbent legislators from fundraising during legislative Session, the current practice of holding fundraisers the day before critical legislative deadlines is inherently unethical. I also support other common sense accountability measures like strengthening conflict-of-interest laws, publishing voter information guides, and reducing the power of a Chair to unilaterally kill bills without consent from their committee members.
As the most geographically isolated land mass in the world with a wide variety of renewable energy options, there is absolutely no reason why we should continue to import 90% of our food and energy. I’ve drafted legislation to create career readiness programs for sustainable clean energy jobs, high tech data systems, and creative industries. We need to diversify our local economy by supporting local farmers through public land leases and shared commercial kitchens. Our State & County officials need to work together and thoughtfully plan where we’re going to build transit-oriented affordable housing in areas that make sense for the community and the environment.
It was frustrating that so much of the decision-making power was concentrated in the hands of basically just 5 men: the Governor and our 4 county mayors. As Chief of Staff for a State Representative, I helped write almost a letter per day to the executive branch begging them to consider a different decision, or to allocate the federal funding in a certain way, but it felt like we were yelling into a void. I support reigning in emergency powers, especially for expenditures of federal funds. There should have at least been some kind of an advise-and-consent process. Now that we understand the airborne nature of this virus, it is imperative that we increase ventilation in public spaces.
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