Name on ballot:
Tracy Aaron Arakaki
State House – District 33
Small Business Owner, Independent Television Production 15 Years
Previous job history:
Award winning news cameraman, Union Member 10 Years
Screen Printing Owner 23 Years
Garment Industry Screen Printing Department Manager
Auto Body and Fender
Petroleum Calibration Contractor
Emmy Nominated Video editor
Previous elected office, if any:
(currently) 21 Years Aiea Nieghborhood Board
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
My family has called Aiea home for four generations since 1960. For over two decades I have represented my neighbors and friends in the Aiea Neighborhood Board where I fought against over-developing like the proposed zip-line tours and cell towers in Newtown, a residential home to be converted to a church in Halawa and advocated for improved infrastructure and resources for the Aiea community. I worked to be the voice of all the residents concerned for not just Aiea, but the state of Hawaii. As an award-winning union news cameraman for over 10 years I worked with other news professionals to inform the public objectively and thoroughly, and know first hand the complexity of the issues that must be addressed at all levels of government.
In these unprecedented times Aiea needs a State Representative that will go to bat for them, to fight for the resources and services that are not being delivered and actually work for the people and not just occupying an office. For the past six years is far too long for issues and problems in our community to go unanswered. As your State Representative I pledge to be responsive, accountable, and take immediate action for those who trust me to represent their voice at the capitol.
What will be your top priority if elected?
The priority of the entirety of state government during these unprecedented times should be two pronged- 1.) Continue to increase covid 19 testing capacity and provide personal protective equipment to front line responders, and, 2.) Develop and begin execution a long term plan to re-open and stabilize Hawaii’s economy, including strategic planning that diversifies Hawaii’s economy in light of the catastrophic economic damage the stoppage of tourism caused. Now more than ever the government must find ways to be efficient and resourceful. I will support legislation that will streamline government services, and continue to bring more government functions online. I will also support reforming the Hawaii procurement code, fight for working class families and their rights, and also securing the necessary funding and support for community infrastructure.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more can be done to protect residents’ health?
We must continue to protect the most vulnerable populations such as our Kupuna and our children, by mandating masks in public spaces and observing social distancing. Covid-19 is not going to be going away anytime soon, so policy makers must do both simultaneously- open the economy and continue public health policies that protect Hawaii’s people from the pandemic. If trans-pacific travel between Hawaii and elsewhere should resume, it is imperative that we have a thorough plan on how to mitigate and minimize the risks of importing infections to our state. I support committing resources to a plan that follows through with monitoring the testing of visitors. I am also deeply concerned about the reopening of schools. As a legislator I would support additional funding to our public school systems that would address any covid-19 related issues that endanger our teachers and children.
What more can be done to help residents who have been economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our antiquated ‘Unemployment Insurance’ benefits system needs to be updated. It should have been updated many, years ago. So many Hawaii residents depending on the unemployment insurance relief were devastated when they could not even simply log onto the system to do simple tasks like filing a claim. The frustrating part is many people are still waiting to get paid. This is just a sliver of the issues we face economically as we try to recover going into the future. Now is the time to look at taxes on food and drugs, to see what we can do from a government standpoint to help everyday citizens get by. Many residents just want to get back to work, so our elected officials need to solidify a plan that allows businesses to resume while keeping the public safe.
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?
How we fund and operate government in its entirety should be re-looked at. I don’t think that public worker furloughs will be a silver bullet that will immediately close the budgetary gaps caused by the unprecedented loss of revenue. Nothing should be off the table, but the public and stakeholders should be consulted and included in any decision-making that will shape the economic recovery from Covid-19. I would be in favor of halting certain non-critical capital improvement projects during the duration of this economic recovery as one option. From a long-term perspective I know it is critical that Hawaii policy-makers must look at other revenue sources and not rely so heavily on tourism. We should NOT have waited for a wake up call to diversify our economy.
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?
Diversifying Hawaii’s economy will not only insulate Hawaii’s financial health and its future during catastrophic events such as a pandemic, but it will also grow, create, and retain high paying local jobs in Hawaii. I would work with the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) and the University of Hawaii to identify pathways to funding and programming for new jobs and new sectors, such as agricultural science, aerospace, and engineering and technology. Programs like these have a K-12 trickle effect, including strengthening STEM programs in our public school systems and revitalizing our trades programs in our high schools. The growth of new industries won’t happen overnight, but the urgency and the devastation of this economic situation has called for us to commit to a plan to prevent something like this from happening again.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
Yes I support police reform. I support mandatory disclosure of disciplinary actions, as I would with any other employee of the state or city, including myself if elected. Public servants are held to a high standard of conduct, and in the current times transparency is warranted at all times. But we must also be selective on what type of disclosures will be exposed as not every minuscule infraction is warranted of public knowledge. We must also look at reforming the criminal justice system as a whole and strengthening and expanding programs for those during incarceration to assist them upon release where they will be able to be productive back in society. Recidivism must be addressed in the system and not just a cycle of unending criminal behavior with incarceration, release and repeat.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
Support with ‘STRONG’ Reservations. I think the University and the governments need to come together better and should have included Native Hawaiians in these discussions long, long before the plans were even drafted. The proposed project will bring significant contributions to science and to the academic world from a major telescope but I understand why people feel so strongly against it.
I believe that the numerous inoperable telescopes need to be dismantled and removed and those locations reused. Clean up the ‘opala.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Aiea has been my home all my life, 55 years. I know which sidewalks are uneven and I remember what the outline of the town looked like on the hills, without the overwhelming skyline that now looms beyond. I am running because I care about the future of this community, and how we move forward as a state.
For decades Aiea has had great representatives, unfortunately the past 6 years has not continued that tradition. I know I can do a much better job and I pledge to fight for what our community and our state needs, and for a better future for those that we will leave behind.
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