Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Sam Slom, a Republican candidate for the state Senate 9th District, which includes Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, Waialae-Kahala and Diamond Head. There is one other candidate, Democrat Stanley Chang.
Name: Sam Slom
Office seeking: State Senate, 9th District
Occupation: Owner, SMS Consultants
Community organizations/prior offices held: University of Hawaii Alumni Association; Livable Hawaii Kai Hui
Residence: Hawaii Kai
1. This year has seen an outsized influence from people who want big changes in how government is run. What would you do to change how the Legislature is run?
I would like to see the Legislature exhibit more meaningful transparency, more bills actually heard in committee, the end to “gut and replace” bills and more of an urgency in passing long-standing bills supported by the public. I also stand firmly for initiative, referendum, recall and term limits and would like a full discussion on switching to a unicameral body.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizen’s initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I have always supported statewide, unlimited initiative and offered a bill annually. Also support referendum, recall and term limits.
3. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
A monopoly, any monopoly, is bad for the electorate and taxpayers. The majority party has controlled Hawaii for more than 60 years yet the same problems (cost of living, education, homelessness) remain unsolved. Part of the problem is that my party has not done a good enough job of explaining alternatives and has left too many races unchallenged. The media does its part by cheerleading for the status quo. Dissent from the majority is not welcomed, so many new ideas are never discussed openly.
4. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
I don’t believe Hawaii’s lobbying, ethics and disclosure laws are necessarily lax; the problem is that they are often not enforced or ethics leaders are attacked and bullied by politicians.
5. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
I do support eliminating high fees for access to public information and have so voted in the past.
6. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Elected officials who do not listen to voters should be challenged and replaced. Voters don’t realize they are the masters, we are the servants.
If more people participated and voted this would change.
7. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The most pressing community problems currently are unwanted development and homelessness. I have co-sponsored public meetings and worked with community groups seeking solutions.
8. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development, yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests?
What is needed is an improvement in the business and investment climate, not necessarily new development. New private jobs and economic opportunities will help all areas of the state and are lacking currently.
9. What should the Legislature do to improve police accountability?
Support independent law enforcement review panels and hold heads of organizations (for example, the Honolulu police chief) accountable for transparency and disclosure.
10. Hawaii is the fastest-aging state. What would you do to ensure we’re taking care of our kupuna?
Kupuna will be better off if taxes are reduced, burdensome regulations changed and a better business climate with more competition created.
11. What would you do to improve Hawaii’s public education system?
To improve Hawaii’s public education: a) Decentralize; b) Reduce out-of-classroom expenditures and programs; c) Merit pay for teachers; d) De-unionize principals; e) Allow vouchers; f) Require improved test results.