Full name: Aaron Ling Johanson
Name on ballot: Aaron Ling Johanson
Political party: Democrat
Running for: House
Current job: Small business owner and founder (College & Career Consulting); state representative
Place of birth:
Job history past 10 years:
Small business owner and founder, Opportunity Enterprises LLC (college and career consulting); state representative, state Legislature; deputy chief of staff, U.S. Mint; division director, The White House; deputy chief of staff, Lieutenant Governor’s Office
Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?
Yes. I successfully ran for state representative in 2010 and have been re-elected in 2012 and 2014. I have served three terms in the state House of Representatives.
Other civic experience or community service?
Nine-term director, Moanalua Gardens Community Association; seven-term director, Moanalua Lions Club; member, Aiea Community Association; member, Friends of Aiea Library; former youth leader, Calvary Church of the Pacific in Aiea
Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
Politics is a means to improving peoples’ lives, not the ultimate end. I strive to be a constructive, collaborative leader, prioritizing Hawaii’s needs over the politics as usual hyper-partisanship and political games. My highest priority as a state representative is to be a servant of my community.
What makes you qualified to be a state representative?
I am a Moanalua-Yale graduate, small business owner, and public servant with leadership experiences in the White House and U.S. Mint. My record of proven results includes authoring and passing tax relief for working families (House Bill 1702) and reforming our procurement laws to ensure better results for taxpayers (HB 2060).
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?
Public infrastructure is an important part of life. I do not support increasing all three taxes together because it constitutes a dramatic increase in costs to taxpayers. The Legislature appropriated $37 million in lieu of these tax increases to fund state road projects.
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?
In 2015, I voted against extending the general excise tax surcharge because HART lacked a financially viable plan for rail’s completion. Numerous cost overruns and delays have since confirmed that reality. Because the excise tax is regressive, disproportionately hurting the poor and elderly, any extension must be weighed cautiously.
Should the state play a role in cracking down on illegal vacation rentals in Hawaii?
I believe the enforcement role is more suited to the counties versus the state. Since counties issue permits for residential and commercial activity, they are the appropriate entity to enforce their zoning laws and permits. Better enforcement by the counties would likely help to reduce illegal vacation rentals.
Should the Legislature require that police officers in Hawaii use “body cameras,” and help to fund the use of those cameras?
The Legislature needs to work with all stakeholders, including counties, the public and law enforcement, to ensure public safety. I support implementing a body camera policy, with the counties drafting the actual policy for their respective departments and the state providing commensurate funding. This ensures maximum safety, transparency and accountability.
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?
When people occupy positions of public trust, a greater responsibility to uphold that trust exists. If cases involving officers have been adjudicated and a final verdict has been rendered or determination made indicating violations of law or departmental policy, it is generally fair for there to be greater public disclosure.