Name on ballot:
Ryan I Yamane
State House – District 37
No answer submitted
Previous job history:
Social Worker with various organizations including Hawaii Pacific Health, Queens Medical Center, Department of Health and Child and Family Services. Former Clinical Director providing academic and mental health services to youths and former Adjunct Professor at various institutions of higher learning, including Honolulu Community College and Pearl Harbor Shipyard, Hawaii Pacific University and University of Phoenix.
Previous elected office, if any:
Current State Representative for District 37
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
As the current State Representative for District #37, I have worked hard on behalf of the communities of Mililani, Waikele and Waipio Gentry. My background includes having a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the UH Manoa. Since being elected in 2004, I have been the Chair of the Committees of Tourism and Culture, Health, Transportation and now the Committee of Water, Land and Hawaiian Affairs. My professional and educational background has provided me over 16 years of community leadership and advocacy. Continuing to serve the people of my community is truly an honor.
What will be your top priority if elected?
The top issues facing the State of Hawaii include ensuring a quick rebound from this COVID19 pandemic. We need a vibrant economy that balances tourism with our overall sustainability for our residents. We should continue to focus on improving our public education infrastructure to ensure that our students are not only safe but have an education that will make them successful in this changing global environment. I would like to support Hawaii’s advanced technology and health services, so that we have viable jobs for our children. We also need to focus on supporting our public education systems so that our children can learn in a healthy and safe environment while we prepare them to be technologically competitive. This pandemic has shown that we need to have our State be more food self-sustainable, which includes supporting local farmers, ranchers and fishermen/fisherwomen and ensuring that we support buying local. We can address many of these issues by exploring public private partnerships, ensuring that our priorities in infrastructure improvements are based on community needs and developing Hawaii as the Center of Excellence in Healthcare and technology in the Pacific region.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more can be done to protect residents’ health?
We need to continue to ask the people of Hawaii to maintain the proper social distancing, wear masks in public and maintain proper personal hygiene. Our healthcare system is our safety net, so we need to ensure that our hospitals and health centers have the needed personal protective equipment, sufficient ventilators, and enough medical support staff to deal with any potential surge of patients. As our medical system moves to a more digital platform, we need to ensure our technological infrastructure can maintain this vital system securely and consistently. The further development of our State’s contact tracing is key to minimizing the spread; this would include training more contact tracers, hiring more health investigators and making sure we have sufficient testing kits readily available. Pandemic information needs to be provided in a timely manner so that families can make the best decisions to ensure the safety of their loved ones.
What more can be done to help residents who have been economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The legislature invested additional funds to help our unemployment office to support those who are receiving benefits and we also increased the rental housing subsidy to help families remain in their homes. What we need to explore as our State rebounds from this pandemic is helping workers who are laid off transition into other viable jobs. This could include job re-training, entrepreneurial seed money and supporting those seeking higher education to qualify for needed jobs in healthcare and technology. During these tough times, we need to work together with a focus on our Aloha spirit and our sense of Ohana.
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 State made an obligation to our employees, we should honor it, and so any downsizing should be done as a last resort. During past economic struggles, State and County employees where furloughed or rifted which caused a surge in economic burdens that lasted years and cost the State millions. The Legislature was able to balance the current budget for the next 18 months without any layoffs or furloughs. It is important for people to have jobs, so that they can pay their rent or mortgages, support local business with their purchases from their wages and having less people requiring State benefits that erode our healthcare system. We need to look for ways to save money, however we should not do it by firing people who are providing an essential service, all other options need to be explored like the elimination of vacancies, temporarily eliminating out-of-state trainings, lower the electrical cost and minimizing waste.
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?
Our economy has benefited from decades of tourism and the presence of the military in our State. We suffer from high costs of doing business, which makes it very difficult for small and medium sized businesses to thrive. In Hawaii we do have great potential in areas of agriculture, biotechnology research and Hawaiian niche markets. I will continue to advocate for tax relief of these types of companies, add more resources to make it easier to register businesses and patent ideas, increase STEM programs to provide our students opportunities in biotechnology, environmental sciences and health care. We are a global leader in environmental research and have such a unique biological diverse environment, that we can become a Center of Excellence for sustainability, climate change and alternative energy.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
Recent events on policing are a national call to action to improve and ensure that our communities are not only protected from crime but from any forms of abuse of power. Our local police force is one that other Counties across our nation should aspire too. We have problems like many other communities, however our men and women in blue work hard to ensure public safety and work collaboratively with other agencies that protect us from crime, identity theft and abuse. We as a State mourned together earlier this year when two officers lost their lives in the line of duty. I support actions for accountability and transparency that require oversight and protection without placing blame and focusing on transparency and ensuring public trust. Many of our law enforcement officers are dedicated heroes who place their lives in harm’s way to protect the public, as a community we need to also honor their sacrifice while we ensure accountability.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope has become a focal point for the Hawaiian people and they have made it known that they are upset with the years of neglect to their history and culture. I am hopeful that with this discussion, the Hawaiian community will develop their plan on self determination and galvanize together to right the history of wrongs so that they can have more access to lands to build their homes, expand Hawaiian language education and protect their history and Kupuna. The Thirty Meter Telescope project has gone through a lengthy legal and permitting process, if it was forced to cancel by government, it would indicate to our business community a lack of security in the judicial process. This would have a negative statewide impact on any future investments in Hawaii. I support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope and I support a greater investment in addressing the issues that face the Kanaka Maoli.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I am honored to be able to continue to volunteer to help the people of Hawaii during these ever changing times. I continue to volunteer with the American Red Cross, but for the past several months I have volunteered to support local residents with their unemployment claims while I manned the phone lines, volunteered with the Medical Reserve Corp to assist those who are quarantined with food and provide food delivery for seniors citizens during the lockdown. Thank you for your continued support and please stay safe during these very stressful times.
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