comscore 2020 Election: John H. Clark III | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2020 Election: John H. Clark III

  • John H. Clark III
Name on ballot:

John H. Clark III

Running for:

State Senate – District 19

Political party:


Campaign website:

Current occupation:

Founder & Executive Director, TeenBuildingUSA



Previous job history:

Naval Officer; 32 years of service to the United States Navy

Previous elected office, if any:


Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

My entire life has been about service.

I served over 30 years in the United States Navy.

I founded a nonprofit organization and served as the executive director for 10 years (while I was on Active Duty).

For the past five years I have served on the Ewa Neighborhood Board. While on the Board, as the Education Committee Chairperson, I played a pivotal role in attaining air conditioning for Ewa Beach schools and securing legislative funds in the amount of $6.29 million for improvements to the James Campbell High School athletic facilities. In addition to serving as the Education Chairperson, I also served as the Economic Development Committee Chairperson. In this capacity I have endeavored to hold developers accountable, while working to resolve community related challenges.

As a retired Naval Officer, I have extensive experience in contract management, leadership development, budget development, and personnel administration.

As the founder of a nonprofit organization that teaches teenagers life leadership skills, and as a small-business owner, through the most demanding of times, I have learned to leverage optimism, experience, collaboration and creativity to rally our residents and achieve new improvements for our community.

As a small-business owner and heavily taxed resident, I have a clear understanding of why Hawaii is consistently ranked as one of the worst states for starting and maintaining a business.

While serving across the world in the U.S. Navy, I gained multinational experience, worldly instruction, an MBA, and exceptional communication skills to facilitate change and relate to stakeholders, staff, elected officials, and community members at all levels.

What will be your top priority if elected?

I have served as the Chairperson of the Education Committee and the Chairperson of the Economic Development Committee on the Ewa Neighborhood Board for several years. If I am elected to serve the residents of Ewa and the state of Hawaii, I will continue to press for increased accountability in education, better oversight of land use and developer responsibility (which includes more affordable housing and better funding for our schools), and, perhaps most importantly, I plan to continuously engage the residents of Ewa Beach in an ongoing conversation regarding what’s going on in city and state government.

Historically, Ewa Beach has some of the lowest voter turnout in the state.

The best way to decrease voter apathy is to increase voter curiosity and interest.

The best way to increase voter curiosity and interest is to sincerely listen to community interests and desires – and then give our residents a return on their investment of attention and time.

As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more can be done to protect residents’ health?

Education, enforcement, and, ultimately, embracing of a “new normal” are probably the best assets we can have as a society.

We need to continuously educate ourselves, our ‘Ohana, our co-workers and employees, and our neighbors about the evolving facts regarding the virus and its impact on our health, our society, and our ability to interact with each other.

We need to accept and enforce guidelines that have been promulgated by informed public-health officials. In reality, this means “holding accountable” those individuals and groups who refuse to abide by the guidelines set forth by legal authorities.

Finally, persevering through this pandemic has already changed the world; as individuals and as a society, we need to fully embrace the dramatic shift that is occurring under our feet with each passing day. Many people seem to be in a soft sort of denial about the far-reaching repercussions of our new reality.

What more can be done to help residents who have been economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 5-7.5 states, “”Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. “Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the “Aloha Spirit.”

As such, Hawaii is a special place, and I sincerely believe we have a special duty to live Aloha.

I often blog about “Where can one find Aloha?”

The answer is…

“We find Aloha wherever we give it.”

Inasmuch as the tourism industry and related trades have been hit especially hard during the pandemic, there are other markets and industries that continue to employ people and generate positive cash flow for the state. While many in the tourism industry have been furloughed or have lost their jobs, the military, government contractors, the banking industry, construction, and several other businesses continue to have discretionary income.

Hawaii needs new blood – new leaders with new ideas who are willing to do innovative things and creatively manage emerging products, technologies, and services. Despite being the most remote archipelago in the world, we are America’s gateway to Asia – and Asia’s gateway to America. With China’s lockdown of civil rights in Hong Kong, Hawaii could very easily become the financial center of the Pacific. But we must first update and streamline our antiquated government systems. We must update our infrastructure. We must endow, empower, and finance fields of study and fledgling areas of competence where Hawaii can someday become a market leader.

Let’s turn the threat of the pandemic into an opportunity to reinvent Hawaii into a more egalitarian society where the Spirit of Aloha is manifested in our politics, our pecuniary procedures, and our plans for the future.

Then again, we could simply legalize gambling and a state lottery… and subsequently bring in billions of additional funds every year.

Should public worker furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing be used to help the state deal with lower tax revenues and higher expenses during the pandemic? Why or why not?

Many hands make light work. In other words, even a difficult task becomes easy if enough people help complete it. The State of Hawaii is facing one of the most austere budgetary climates in its history – without a clear path to recovery. Accordingly, the entire continuum of solutions should be (at least) considered as we seek viable solutions. If we fence off the ideas or potential applications of furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing, we are, by definition, limiting the number of solutions through which we can persevere through the ongoing pandemic.

To balance the budget, we must re-assess the value of every single dollar spent by our state. And we must place greater efforts on expanding ways to receive funds without raising residents’ taxes.

We could centralize and cut government where redundant services and lax oversight exist. This will require significant compromise, coordination, and some degree of discomfort. However, it might actually create different jobs and initiate new industries.

I would not concur with deep cuts into social programs. With as many as 250,000 unemployed residents, social programs are safety nets. Estimates vary wildly on how much revenue Hawai’i will lose from the steep drop in tourism. However, as the state begins to open up, the efforts of residents and government to keep the number of COVID cases low could work in our favor. For example:
We can market Hawai’i as having the toughest entry requirements, and the lowest rates of infection. By communicating the correct message, these factors can create strong demand, whereby people will actually WANT to come to Hawaii to specifically enjoy a safe, COVID-free vacation. Concurrently, the state could add a $100 COVID fee to visiting tourist… a small price to pay for enjoying a COVID-free paradise.

Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy has suffered greatly due to the pandemic. If elected, what would you propose to support and diversify the state’s economy?

We have a resilient and resourceful community that is packed with talent, teamwork, and a true sense of Aloha. If elected, I would create a standing “Best Practices Forum” to research, document, and share new ideas, proven methodologies, and evolving technology on how we can utilize and “synergize” existing resources to diversify the economy and industrial base.

As the recent pandemic has clearly exemplified, Hawaii can no longer afford to draw significantly upon the often lucrative but precariously perched patronage of tourism to facilitate and fund our local initiatives.

If elected, I plan to seek greater collaboration among the military, tourism industry, commercial companies, county, and state organizations to facilitate an authentic Creative Community of Interest. This includes proactively seeking overt partnerships with developers and other stakeholders who might have a specific interest in various sections of the community. This will not be a forum for special-interest groups, but rather an altruistic platform that can facilitate genuine malama for areas that need critical assistance but are often not seen as a worthy solution to current and future challenges.

Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.

To be sure, given the recent events regarding Katherine and Louis Kealoha, the state can do more to increase accountability of those who are charged with the awesome responsibility to protect and to serve.

Accordingly, yes; I support reforms to policing in Hawaii. I hold our community police in high regard. Indeed, today’s police are faced with solving a wide range of issues, beyond the already complex mission of law-enforcement. As a veteran who has served in a war zone, I have experience with living and working in a high-stress, high-demand, dynamic and evolving environment where the quality of split-second decision-making can be the literal difference between life and death. Over time, continuous stress in highly dynamic situations can have an adverse effect on people and their decision-making process. Subsequently, errors will be made.

Some of those errors will be minor; others of some importance… and others of great significance.

Accordingly, I believe disclosing the disciplinary records of SOME (as opposed to ALL) law enforcement officers in Hawaiʻi is warranted, but only for the most serious and often recurring errors of judgement.

To be sure: there needs to be a clearly established threshold of what is expected of our community police force. I sincerely believe police are our friends, neighbors, and community partners. They are a part of us.

Yet, their chosen field of work necessitates a higher standard of expectation. While serving as an Active Duty Naval Officer, I clearly understood and accepted my oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As a member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, I was subject to not only Constitutional law, statutory law, treaties, administrative regulations, and the common law… but also to the Uniform Code of Military Justice – a separate law that ensured my fellow brothers and sister-in-arms and I adhered to a higher standard.

Similarly, police officers, who are literally law-enforcement experts while in uniform, should be held to a higher standard. And though it doesn’t appear to occur often, when officers fail to meet those standards – especially when officers fail in a horrendous and offensive manner, there should be a public disclosing of the respective officer’s disciplinary record(s).

Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?

I support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island only if it can be done with proper regards for the land and what the land represents to people of our island state. For example, if the Thirty Meter Telescope is replacing another telescope, I support its construction.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

Over the course of my military career, I served throughout the Pacific, including Korea, Japan, Guam, and The Philippines. In addition to serving as Brigade Operations Officer for an Army Brigade here in Hawaii, and as a logistics officer on a nuclear submarine at Pearl Harbor, I also served as the Contracting Officer at Joint Base Pearl Harbor and as a Contracting Officer in Taji, Iraq (Baghdad).

I have followed talented leaders and led hard-working teams of people across the political, cultural, social, and economic spectrum… all while working for Democratic and Republican presidents in their role as Commander-in-Chief.

Most importantly, my diverse travels, career military service, exposure to political systems outside of Hawaii, and our shared community experiences here in Hawaii have prepared me for the far-reaching mission to listen to – and seek realistic resolutions for – people across the political, cultural, social, and economic spectrum.

I currently serve on a School Community Council, various organizational boards, and the Ewa Neighborhood Board. I have learned that, despite partisan political politics “Together, we will make our community better.”

As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, author of several books, and a small-business owner, I am also blessed with a creative tenacity to be innovative when required.

Today, more than ever, we need knowledgeable, creative, and experienced leadership.

Part of the leadership of which I speak includes the ability to exchange ideas, concepts and visions with other knowledgeable, innovative, competent and ETHICAL leaders. I can’t solve problems all by myself, but I promise to give my all as we seek better solutions for ongoing and emerging challenges.

As we fight our way through this pandemic, we should:

A) Have a Plan;
B) Publicize the Plan
C) Keep the Plan firm but flexible
D) Maintain a vision for the future (not merely focus on the bad things occurring here and now)

In the overall scheme of things, with the right vision, phases, and steps, like a mighty computer, we can solve this challenge, literally one step at a time.

And it begins with optimism, hope, and a vision.

The plan is the intersection of optimism, hope, and our vision.

I say “our vision” primarily because, although I have an MBA in contracts management, and an undergraduate business degree, as a community advocate, retired naval officer, and chairperson of several committees, I believe some of my best strengths are in listening, learning, leveraging, and leading.

View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2020 Hawaii elections coverage.

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