comscore District 13 - Kim Coco Iwamoto (D)

District 13 – Kim Coco Iwamoto (D)

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Full name: Kim Coco Iwamoto

Name on ballot: Kim Coco Iwamoto

Age: 48

Political Party: Democrat

Running for: State Senate

District: 13

Email address:

Current job: Retired attorney; owner/property manager, AQuA Rentals, LLC

Place of birth: Lihue, Kauai

Campaign website:

Job history past 10 years:

2006-2010: Member of the state Board of Education

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

2006: Elected to serve on the Hawaii Board of Education

2010: Re-Elected to serve on the Hawaii Board of Education

Other civic experience or community service?

2012-present: serving as commissioner on the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission

2012-present: serving as scholarship ambassador for Hawaii Community Foundation

2009-11: served on Hawaii Teacher Standards Board

2007-11: served on the University of Hawaii’s Career & Technical Education Coordinating Advisory Council (2010-11, chair)

2004-11: served on the Department of Education’s Safe Schools Community Advisory Committee

2007-09: served on the Grantmaking Committee of Hawaii People’s Fund

2005-07: served on board of directors for Hawaii People’s Fund

2004-07: served as a licensed therapeutic foster parent

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

I have multiple perspectives on homelessness. My public interest legal career started in 2001 as homeless outreach coordinator, offering legal clinics in shelters. I fostered teenagers who had experienced homelessness. As a small business owner, I manage apartments, half of which are offered to low-income or previously homeless residents.

What makes you qualified to be a state senator?

I am a public interest attorney who has been actively involved in the legislative process for 14 years. For example, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland asked me to draft anti-bullying legislation that became the Safe Schools Act. I then worked with the community to ensure the bill progressed to enactment.

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?

Hawaii has a regressive tax system: lower-income, working families pay a greater share of their household income than the wealthiest households. The current gas tax exempts electric car owners (including me) who also use the roads. Vehicle tax and registration fees should be based on current value, not weight.

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 matter how voters feel about rail, it’s hard to imagine that Hawaii will abandon rail at this point. However, we can start to fix our regressive tax system by including language within the GET extension bill to cut taxes on food, medications and medical supplies.

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

The state should either enforce this law or change it. The state needs to “crack down” on collecting general excise taxes and transient accommodation taxes from these rentals, then invest that revenue in enforcement or assisting with compliance.

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

The Legislature should require all state and county law enforcement officers to use “body cameras” when actively serving the public; this would reduce the likelihood of false accusations against officers, while improving accountability and public confidence. If the state mandates this safeguard, then it should pay for it.

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?

I propose creating Hawaii Police Accountability Commission that is autonomous and subject to the sunshine law. Fifty percent of HiPAC should represent government agencies and 50 percent should be community experts addressing prison reform, mental health, disability rights, homelessness and advocates from groups disproportionately represented in arrest or incarceration numbers.

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