comscore District 43 - Karen Awana (D)

District 43 – Karen Awana (D)

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Full Name: Karen Awana

Name on Ballot: Karen Awana

Age: 50

Political Party: Democrat

Running For: State House

District: 43

Email Address:

Current Job: Community advocate

Place of birth: Hawaii

Job History Past 10 Years:

State legislator (Chairwoman, International Affairs, majority floor leader, vice chairwoman, Transportation, vice chairwoman, International Affairs, Women’s Caucus, Keiki Caucus, Kupuna Caucus, Hawaiian Caucus, Rural Caucus); National Conference of State Legislatures (Native American / Alaskan Indian and Native Hawaiian Caucus – vice chairwoman, National Asian Pacific American Caucus, National Quad Caucus (Select members of the Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American Caucuses); Enterprise Honolulu Advisory Council; legislative aide to Councilmember Todd Apo; adviser to the AIM for Youth Project to address racial inequity and engage youth in public civic opportunities.

Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome? Yes. /state Legislator – Elected, Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board (board vice chairwoman, treasurer and secretary) chairwoman – Transportation, chairwoman – Public Safety, chairwoman – Health & Human Services) – Elected, Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board (chairwoman – Hawaiian Affairs, chairwoman – Parks & Recreation) – Elected, Nai Aupuni – vice chairwoman (Election did not take place, however among those who did participate, I was elected as their vice chairwoman).

Other civic experience or community service?

Member Waianae Lions Club, board of directors on the Waianae Habitat for Humanity, St. Francis Hospice Volunteer, Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Team, Red Cross Hawaii Volunteer, Waianae Moku 2030 Navigator’s Group Community Planning Member, Nanakuli Ahapuaa Member, organized and participated in community beautification, environmental stenciling and recycling projects. I’ve donated and volunteered for various events in the district during the past 20 years.

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you? As a former member of the state House of Representatives in this district for eight years, I know I can do the job. I have demonstrated that I am able to provide funds for capital improvement projects and pass meaningful legislation for the district and our state.

What makes you qualified to be a state representative?

As a former legislator, I am equipped with the skills and talents necessary to be effective. I have passed meaningful legislation for our district and the state. I have been successful in securing millions for our district. I am the candidate who can get the job done.

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?

It would be difficult to support increases. Families are struggling to make ends meet. The Federal Highway Administration is concerned that the state is not spending hundreds of millions allocated for road projects. Government needs to be diligent about using existing funds before looking at taxpayers for additional money.

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?

The train has already left the station. At the same time, we will not be held hostage to misappropriation of funds. I would need to look at the request before taking a position on this issue.

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

If there are “illegal” activities, the state has a responsibility to take action.

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

In light of the recent findings of police brutality, I believe body cameras are warranted. We need to ensure the safety of both the police officer and the general public. Funding of these cameras should come from government as this equipment would be work related.

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. When crimes are committed the public should have the right to know. However, this issue is one in which discussions between collective bargaining, the police department and the administration should ensue before looking for legislative approval.


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