Name on ballot:
Mark Jun Hashem
State House – District 18
Commercial Real Estate
Previous job history:
Small Business Owner / Commercial Real Estate
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I was first elected in 2010. In 2011 I served on the Committee on Finance, so I have experience with the previous $2 billion budget deficit. I know the hard choices that need to be taken to balance the current budget. I chaired the Committee on Housing and am currently the Vice Chair of the Committee on Education. I also served on Agriculture, Transportation, International Affairs, Health and Human Services committees.
What will be your top priority if elected?
My priority has always been to serve my constituents and my district. I have brought much needed infrastructure improvements to the district such as the re-paving of Kalanianaole Highway, expanding Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) to East Honolulu, and upgrades to our public library and schools. Due to the pandemic this year’s main priority is to help my constituents through the current crisis such as addressing issues that arise from government mandates and assisting them in receiving their unemployment and PUA benefits.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more can be done to protect residents’ health?
There is no magical solution to COVID-19. Each individual needs to limit their social contact, social distance and wear a face mask to prevent community spread of the virus. The government’s role is to provide adequate resources for testing and contact tracing, and to ensure people coming into Hawaii are COVID free.
What more can be done to help residents who have been economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The legislature has allocated $230 million for added unemployment benefits (additional $100 per week per person) and $100 million for rental and housing assistance ($500 per household per month) for the most vulnerable households. Another $56 million will help small business and manufacturing in training and job programs. About $100 million has been designated for sanitation supplies and personal protective equipment for essential workers such as childcare and senior home care employees, schools and nonprofit agencies. More federal and state help will be necessary.
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?
The deficit in the State Budget is too big for just one solution. A combination of borrowing, furloughs, budget cuts and revenue enhancements should be used. By using multiple tools, no one solution will be extreme thus limiting our impact to the economy and residents.
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?
Hawaii has a competitive advantage to the rest of the world in a handful of sectors such as agricultural research, the film industry, medical research, and astronomy to name a few. We should focus on these opportunities, support them and allow them to grow.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
All organizations should strive to improve their operation. Every organization should constantly evaluate their processes and look for ways to improve. When government organizations do not strive to improve or change with the current environment many find themselves stuck in a process that is no longer relevant.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
We can find a balance between respect for Hawaii’s culture while moving Hawaii forward. One area Hawaii has a competitive advantage to the rest of the world is in the field of astronomy. Some of the world’s best telescopes are already located here. It is essential to foster industries like these to diversify our economy.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I have been the District 18 Representative for 10 years. I am a husband, father, legislator and small business owner. I grew up in Hawaii, lived on the mainland and Japan. My experiences bring a unique perspective to my job as a legislator. I understand the challenges living in Hawaii brings. I want to make Hawaii a better place, a place where my kids can live too.
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