Name on ballot:
Rynette Ipo Keen
State Senate – District 5
Aloha Aina Party
Previous job history:
Convenience Store Manager, Accounts-Receivables, Cattle Rancher, Office Manager / Inside Sales Coordinator, Business Owner, Full Charge Bookkeeper, Administrative Assistant and Tax Preparer, Customer Service Manager, Vault Teller, Foreign Money Teller, Proof Department Supervisor, Proof Operator.
Previous elected office, if any:
I have not held political office before but I have been elected to the board of various community groups.
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I am a community activist, outreach worker, and concerned citizen that believes our elected officials no longer listen to our citizenry.
What will be your top priority if elected?
My top priorities include genuinely affordable housing, diversification of our economy, expanded educational opportunities, correcting years of wrong to the people and the land of Hawai’i.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more can be done to protect residents’ health?
One of the major problems facing the people of Hawai’i is incoming visitors who might be carrying the virus. As such, I would propose setting up specific hotels on each island to receive incoming visitors to ensure the enforcement of the 14-day quarantine mandate. All visitors will be required to stay at these specific hotels until their 14-day quarantine requirement is fulfilled. All violators will be arrested and fined $5,000. All visitors will be responsible for all expenses they incur during their quarantine. Before departing from the quarantine holets, they would be required to take a test to ensure they are no longer a threat to our communities. This would also reduce the need to test all our citizenry and would reduce costs. This plan has been active in Guam and has enabled them to keep their economy open and healthy.
What more can be done to help residents who have been economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I believe that once the quarantine issues are changed to the plan above, we will be able to reopen our local economy and put people back to work without the fear of community spread.
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?
These are tough times for everyone, and in my opinion, everyone needs to tighten their belts. I believe that all elected officials should take a pay cut and all public service department heads. I do feel that the current pay raise voted on by our politicians came was improper at this time. Although valuable workers, a pay raise in a time a crisis is not the way to go, especially when thousands have not received their first unemployment checks since the start of this situation. No taking a pay raise may help the State in not having to place public workers on furlough, cut their pay, or downsize.
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?
Diversification of Hawai’i’s economy is long overdue. I want to propose that we diversify through a circular economy where we would become more self-sustaining through farming, ranching, and local business entrepreneurship. Hawai’i has suffered not only from the lack of tourism but also through “Brain Drain.” Many of us have seen family members live the islands in pursuit of better employment opportunities. I would also like to propose that the University of Hawaii – Maui Campus be turned into a four-year university that offers more classes in medical, social work, mental health, technological, education, and business classes. I would also like to have our tuition made more affordable to low-income families.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
In my opinion, we have a great police force. However, the current laws are such that ethic profiling and injustice are pervasive. Most of our police force does the best they can with the laws they are required to enforce. Although, there is always room for improvement though clearer, not biased laws. I believe that no one is above the law, and regardless of one’s position in the community, we must all abide by the law. I also think that we do need to consider the amount of force used in the apprehension of a criminal. Deadly force is not to be taken lightly and should be invoked as a last resort. We must stop the shoot to kill for minor offenses, as well as lethal chokeholds.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I am in STRONG OPPOSITION to building the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna A Wakea. For years the University of Hawai’i has not fulfilled its commitment to the Hawaiian community by ensuring that Mauna A Wakea is appropriately respected and cared for. It is unconscionable that the school that calls itself “a Hawaiian place of learning” refuses to honor the people’s requests by voting on the side of foreign corporations. I am not against Science or Exploration. However, I am 100% against the further desecration of Hawaiian lands and people. I am STRONGLY OPPOSED to additional building on Mauna A Wakea. The amount of damage to this sacred space is irreversible at this point, and I will not support allowing more destruction to this sacred place.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
COVID 19 has impacted most of us that call Hawai’i home. Instead, it has exposed many of the injustices our current elected officials have done and continue to do. I believe that we, the people, through Unity, have great POWER over those who have lorded over us for too long. Thought the POWER of Unity, we, the people, need to elect people with passion for our people and our island community. That is why I have chosen to run with the Aloha Aina Party. We believe in recognition of the Divine – whatever that means to you), Caring for our People – all people that call Hawai’i home, Caring for the land from the mountains to the sea, Complete Government Accountability, and Transparency, and Correcting the wrongs that have been allowed to continue for too long.
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