comscore District 17 - Gene Ward (R)

District 17 – Gene Ward (R)

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Full name: Gene Ward

Name on ballot: Gene Ward

Age: Don’t ask don’t tell

Political Party: Republican

Running for: House

District: 17

Email address:

Current job: State representative, entrepreneurship instructor and small business consultant

Place of birth: Ohio

Campaign website:

Job history past 10 years:

Presidential Appointee USAID

Peace Corps country director, East Timor

State representative

Entrepreneurship instructor and small business consultant

Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?

I have lost two elections and won nine; the first loss was my first run for the state house in 1988; and my second loss was to incumbent U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie when I ran for Congress in 1998.

Other civic experience or community service?

Served on the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, transportation chair

Member Rotary International

Member East-West Center Board of Governors

Served on various other boards of directors

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

Voters should know that my office is totally open to them and I consider constituents my bosses. I meet the community face-to-face at Zippy’s Koko Marina the first Tuesday of every month and I have a “Beer Summit” with the community at Kona Brewing in Koko Marina the first Thursday of every month.

What makes you qualified to be a state representative?

I have 25 years of executive/diplomatic experience at the state level as a business owner and state representative — at the national level as a Bush White House appointee, and at the international level as a Peace Corps country director and a UN expert in Africa and earned Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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?

No. I think he will regret this because these fees were almost doubled a couple of years ago and people are still outraged by steep increases. There is no gubernatorial justification for this when previous governors allowed the Legislature to raid the highway fund to pay for non-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?

Not another dollar for rail! HART implemented a damaged business model with 100-year-old technology and rejected best practices of Japan and Hong Kong where development rights for housing/shopping are given to the private sector in exchange for building the rail. Instead we stick it to taxpayers at full price+political muscle.

Should the state play a role in cracking down on illegal vacation rentals in Hawaii?

1) Yes, but the state failed in the 2016 session to exert its influence over the counties by making sure rentals are both licensed as well as paying taxes. 2) State should not allow Airbnb to serve as a tax collector and 3) State needs to incentivize more and cheaper housing.

Should the Legislature require that police officers in Hawaii use “body cameras,” and help to fund the use of those cameras?

With no statewide police, the state must help fund county departments. Body cameras should be required but outfitted slowly with proper training and usage starting in high risk areas where eye witness testimony regarding identity, behavior and motivation are key to the arrest and or treatment by the police.

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?

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. The more transparent the department the better it will perform. But as Dallas Police Chief David Brown said, “Every societal failure is being given to the cops to solve” so we must keep things in perspective of what we expect police can do even with cameras.

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