Full Name: Laura H. Thielen
Name on Ballot: Laura H. Thielen
Political Party: Democrat
Running For: State Senate
Email Address: email@example.com
Current Job: Senator; Co-owner, Lilinoe Orchard
Place of birth: Los Angeles
Campaign website: www.laurathielen.com
Job history past 10 years:
Director, State Office of Planning; Chairwoman, Department of Land and Natural Resources; Co-owner, Lilinoe Orchard; Agricultural liaison, City and County of Honolulu; Hawaii state senator, District 25
Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?
I’ve run for public office twice. In 2001, I was elected to the Board of Education and served two years. In 2011, I was elected to the state Senate and have served four years.
Other civic experience or community service?
President, Hawaii Women Lawyers; chairwoman, U.S. Department of Education Pacific Regional Advisory Committee; board member, Hawaii Women’s Legal Foundation; member, Kailua Neighborhood Board; volunteer, UH Master Gardener program; Aikahi Elementary Fun Fair Chairwoman; miscellaneous beach and park cleanups.
Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
I’ve worked in the private sector, including running my own business, and with many nonprofit organizations. My husband Tom and I have been married 25 years, and we have two grown daughters, ages 19 and 24. I was raised in Kailua, where my girls were born and raised.
What makes you qualified to be a state senator?
My work in private, nonprofit and government jobs gives me a unique understanding of how laws affect people, businesses and resources, and how state budgets and programs actually work. I can write laws that are effective and enforceable. I can critically review budgets and projects for viability and waste.
Gov. Ige says he will once again propose increases to the state gas tax, vehicle weight tax and state registration fees to help pay for state road projects. Do you support his proposal?
I voted against this proposal last year. The Department of Transportation failed to spend several hundred million federal dollars. DOT hasn’t restructured their department to move their projects faster in the future. Instead, they’re just saying “trust us.” But rail has shown we need the organization and complete plan up front.
If the Legislature is again asked to extend Oahu’s half-percent excise tax surcharge to finance construction or operation of the rail system, would you support such an extension?
No. I was one of the few senators to vote against the rail tax extension two years ago. Even then it was clear that there was no plan to contain construction costs, and no plan for covering operational costs. The city needs to strictly manage rail before asking for more.
Should the state play a role in cracking down on illegal vacation rentals in Hawaii?
Yes. We need to step up management of the tourism industry where their operations are reducing residents’ quality of life. Increasing numbers of illegal vacation rentals are reducing long-term rentals for residents and changing neighborhoods. Other places experiencing similar problems adopted enforceable laws that allow strictly limited vacation rentals.
Should the Legislature require that police officers in Hawaii use “body cameras,” and help to fund the use of those cameras?
Body cameras help officers defend against false accusations, and also provide crucial public evidence in cases of misconduct. I support them, but recognize that cameras alone will not fix the problems caused by the minority of officers who violate policies and procedures. We need more transparency in our police departments.
Dozens of police officers in Hawaii are disciplined each year for committing crimes or violating departmental policies, but little information is released about the officers or their cases. Do you think there needs to be greater public disclosure?
Yes. As co-convenor of the Women’s Legislative Caucus I’ve taken a lead role in promoting legislation to increase accountability of our police departments. Public disclosure benefits the vast majority of police officers who are good, hardworking people. Disclosure will help increase compliance with department policies and laws.