comscore 2020 Election: Simon Russell | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2020 Election: Simon Russell

  • Simon Russell
Name on ballot:

Simon Russell

Running for:

State House – District 12

Political party:


Campaign website:

Current occupation:

Father, Husband, farmer and contractor



Previous job history:

Small business owner at Farm Maui LLC , consultant and professional lobbyist at Hui ‘O Mālama ‘Āina LLC

Previous elected office, if any:

State Vice President, Hawaii Farmers Union

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I care deeply for the future of our community. As a father, husband, farmer and small business owner, I will do everything in my ability to be a voice for our people and the future generations.

What will be your top priority if elected?

To keep us safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, while growing good paying jobs and leading Hawaii towards economic recovery by keeping money and jobs here.

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

Much more can be done to make sure that when people choose to visit Hawaii from at risk locations, that they are properly tested for COVID-19, and quarantines are strictly adhered to and enforced. Personal protective equipment, testing equipment, and logistics around the testing supply chain must be well stocked, managed and supported.

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

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Unemployment Insurance Program (HUI) needs immediate support to administer CARES Act funds, and modernization of its online interface to prevent fraud and abuse.

Applicants of HUI also need support in the application process.

This program needs immediate expansion of support personnel.

Additionally, we must work with the Federal government to insure that if job losses in our visitor and hospitality dependent regions continue that workers are able to pay their bills with continued federal financial support while they transition to another career, temporary or not.

The State of Hawaii can fund workforce development programs to help the hospitality workforce transition to other occupations in technology, agriculture and health related industries.

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?

This will be a very tough choice for our legislature and the correct path will mostly rely on the state’s balance sheet. As long as revenues are down by current levels or more, cuts will be necessary, because the State must balance its budget. However, I believe that there is a fair amount of redundancy within state government, as well as efficiencies to be had, so before I would support mass layoffs or cuts, I would look to support the state auditor auditing agencies that bring in state revenues, so that any inefficiencies could be remediated, any waste eliminated, and corrections made to the agencies that are mandated to collect the monies of our state so that they can better serve their purpose. Through implementation of a modernization of various agencies coupled with true transparency and accountability, perhaps layoffs and cuts might not be necessary. This is the path I will choose to support.

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 must look closely at more support for teachers for what our future economy will be, and support those teachers with cost of living adjustments, housing subsidies and credits for college tuition. We must create the workforce of the future and that begins with learning outcomes that support that workforce.

Hawaii can literally grow all of the fiber to build every house and most buildings that it needs to build. Every dollar spent locally generates $3-$4 of economic return locally. We must keep our money here with a safer and more managed tourism, a high tech industry to implement 3-D printing for manufacturing all of our industrial needs, a food and energy security program to meet the Aloha Plus challenge of supplying all of energy and most of our food needs by 2050.

In the immediate future, and due to COVID-19 I will support a modern civilian conservation corps to restore our watersheds to vibrant health, so that they are producing as much fresh water as they are able to. Then I will support a public works program to rebuild Hawaii’s water delivery infrastructure and modernize it so that only the water that is necessary to divert will be diverted out of watersheds, while the rest will recharge the aquifer, and sustain life in our streams, rivers, estuaries and the nearshore waters, better known as our watersheds. Ola I Ka Wai

Hawaii must Mālama our sacred Wai, and protect it and preserve it for present and future generations, it is sacred, and with out it, we will not be here.

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

Transparency and accountability, I support a stronger police commission that is able to hold unlawful activity to account.

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

At this time I oppose TMT, as it is out of compliance with the spirit of the Public Trust Doctrine, as well as the intent of the lease agreement between the State of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii to have one telescope at the top of Mauna A Wakea.

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

I love our Hawaii, its people, my ‘Ohana and want to be a good ancestor to my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren. I will be a strong voice and a hard worker for our people and the ‘Āina. I have worked with the State Legislature as a farmers advocate since 2012 and an environmental lobbyist for Hui ‘O Mālama ‘Āina fighting for our people and the ‘Āina since 2018.

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