comscore 2020 Election: Earl Y.L.Tsuneyoshi | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2020 Election: Earl Y.L.Tsuneyoshi

  • Earl Tsuneyoshi
Name on ballot:

Earl Y.L.Tsuneyoshi

Running for:

Honolulu city council – District 9

Political party:

N/A

Campaign website:

www.earlforcouncil.com/

Current occupation:

Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG)

Age:

37

Previous job history:

Professional Experience – Civilian
Small Business Owner specializing in Real Estate

Professional Experience – Military

Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG):
HIARNG Joint Staff
29 Infantry Brigade Combat Team

Active Duty Army:

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency: Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii
1-503rd,173rd IBCT(A): Vicenza, Italy
Warrior Transition Battalion Europe: Heidelberg, Germany
1-6 IN, 2-1 AD: Baumholder, Germany

Combat Deployments:

Operation Iraq Freedom
2006, Hit, Al Anbar Province: Platoon Leader
2009, Sadr City, Baghdad Province: Platoon Leader

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
2013, Logar & Ghazni Province: Company Commander

Previous elected office, if any:

None

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Oahu.

At the age of 18, I left home here on Oahu after being nominated by the late Senator Daniel Akaka to attend the United States Military Academy. I had the opportunity to work with Senator Akaka as his Senate Page where I learned a lot from him about the Aloha Spirit and saw how it could be effective in politics. One month into my first academic year, the horrific events of 9/11 occurred forever changing our way of life here in America and at home. The majority of us made the decision to continue at West Point, fully knowing that we would deploy in harm’s way within the next 4 years. I personally knew that it was my duty to do my part to serve and defend not only our country, but also my home here in Hawaii. More importantly, to allow those at home to continue to live their lives in relative normalcy.

Upon graduation I commissioned as an Infantry officer and, shortly after, deploy to Iraq in 2006 as a platoon leader. I deployed twice more, once more to Iraq in 2009, and to Afghanistan in 2013. My 20s would essentially be spent either deployed or preparing to deploy in leadership positions. This became my foundation of dedication to a lifetime of service, grounded in lessons learned as a combat leader in kinetic and dynamic environments. We faced threats to public safety and security along with infrastructure challenges in underdeveloped countries on a grand scale. Being a combat leader faced with making decisions that incorporate not only the threats of the environment, mission requirements, and the lives of 100+ sons of America is perhaps the greatest test of leadership. I am extremely honored to have served among the men, women, and their families that have sacrificed so much to serve and protect our country. I am even more so honored to have served alongside those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Throughout my time away, the strong desire to return home was always present. Upon returning to Oahu on my last active duty assignment, my wife and I made the decision to stay and raise our family here. I continue to serve in the Hawaii Army National Guard and have contributed in various domestic operations here at home to include the recent lava and hurricane disaster responses. I am currently activated as the Current Operations Chief for the Hawaii National Guard Joint Task Force for COVID-19 spanning the entire state and the operations that Hawaii National Guard Servicemembers are supporting. I was also one of the lead planners for the State’s response plan which we briefed to the State House and State Senate.

There is no other place in the world like Hawaii and I am thankful every day to live and raise my family here. However, as time passes here at home I grew increasingly weary and concerned of the future and state of our island. As a taxpayer, home-owner, small-business owner, and most importantly a family man; I have seen the Aloha of the place I love diminish. We face an all-time high rate of crime and threats to public safety. The quality of life of our working families continues to be affected by continued increases in cost of living resulting in less focus on the Ohana as a family unit. I share the concerns of so many in our community about the loss of trust and confidence in our elected officials.

I am running to continue my service to our community and to bring my leadership experience based on integrity and doing what is right to make informed decisions that will improve the quality of life of our community.

What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent, and what can you do to address that need?

The most pressing need facing my district and the city in light of the COVID-19 pandemic will be our recovery moving forward. I have been activated with the Hawaii Army National Guard since the offset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was initially a lead planner for the state’s initial COVID-19 response plan that briefed the Governor and the State House and Senate. I am currently the Current Operations Chief for Hawaii National Guard operations statewide for the Hawaii National Guard’s Joint Task Force that is supporting the State’s COVID-19 response.

As the only candidate for District 9 that has actively been involved with both the planning and actions taking place, I understand the challenges that we have ahead of us and am confident that we can overcome this time of uncertainty if we as a state work together. It will be imperative for the City to be on the same page as the State to ensure that there is a unified effort that mitigates and minimizes effects to our economy as much as possible while providing a sense of predictability to the community as well. Critical to this is for the planning teams on all government levels to be unified in their planning efforts and messaging to the community. Politics must be set aside and we must work together in a timely and decisive manner with the best interests of the community at the forefront.

The reality is that we must continue to open our economy in this “new normal” way of life. However, we must implement and enforce safety measures to mitigate risks that would result in us having to close up again. We need to accept the “new normal” and adapt quickly and decisively to allow us to move forward. There should be a continued emphasis on the state’s color coded framework to provide a common understanding of where our community is in relation to the threat of COVID-19 and in returning to a normal steady state.

As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?

County government should work in conjunction with the state to further develop and implement safety measures in accordance with the state’s color coded framework. We need to emphasize and communicate the current impact levels to the community and enforce the corresponding safety measures accordingly. We allocated resources and time to develop this framework that makes sense and it provides a means to be predictable and timely for expectation management health measures. It does require additional refinement to further mitigate risks that have been identified and we owe it to our community to have a deadline to implement it.

What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?

Bottom line is that life with the threat of COVID-19 is the “new norm” and we need to quickly identify and mitigate these risks to allow us to open back up our economy and allow us to get back on track to resuming our way of life in this new normal. We cannot continue to delay the inevitable in this new normal. Vital to the success of this will be to continually refine and update the color coded framework and provide updates to the community with the threat level status that we’re currently at along with enforcing the associated safety measures.

Moving forward we need to minimize further effects to our residents through minimizing any additional tax burdens for at least the upcoming year (ie, property taxes) and identifying areas that we can assist in our residents overcoming the challenges of the pandemic (ie, tax credits for child care to assist residents with keiki to return to work as we continue to open up).

Should public worker furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing be used to help the county deal with lower tax revenues and higher expenses during the pandemic? Why or why not?

This course of action should be the last to be considered, if at all. We need to minimize any further effects to our workers and our government must do their due diligence to determine other areas that can be cut first.

What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness?

Firstly, we need to ensure that our hardworking families that are facing hardships due to our economy don’t become homeless themselves. Families on the brink of homelessness will inevitably increase as we continue to delay opening the economy and it is critical to address this issue in our recovery plan. Specifically, we need to continue to develop programs and implement initiatives to aid our hardworking families.

The homeless problem we face is complex and we need to further focus collaboration within the stakeholders (ie, non profits, etc) and all levels of government to evolve our efforts based on lessons learned from programs that have been successful both here and worldwide.

Do you support or oppose stopping construction of the rail project at Middle Street? Please explain.

Bottom line is that we cannot afford to go another billions over budget and construction beyond Middle Street will undoubtedly be the most complex. Completing the project would be ideal, but we need to ensure that it is feasible. I believe that we owe our taxpayers with a comprehensive analysis that includes the costs associated with completing the rail project, the ability for us to pay for those costs, and measures to ensure accountability of the budget and completion of the project prior to making any decision. Included in this analysis should be three courses of action (continue current plan, stop the rail at Middle Street, & a phased completion that aligns with budgeting limitations). Critical to this decision making process is the inclusion of all stakeholders and experts and that we leverage lessons learned from other communities worldwide (ie, Taiwan & Singapore) that encountered similar infrastructure challenges in the construction of their rail systems.

Do you support or oppose using new city funds to cover any shortfall in HART’s construction or operating costs? Please explain.

Bottom line is that we cannot afford to go another billions over budget and construction beyond Middle Street will undoubtedly be the most complex. Completing the project would be ideal, but we need to ensure that it is feasible. I believe that we owe our taxpayers with a comprehensive analysis that includes the costs associated with completing the rail project, the ability for us to pay for those costs, and measures to ensure accountability of the budget and completion of the project prior to making any decision. Included in this analysis should be three courses of action (continue current plan, stop the rail at Middle Street, & a phased completion that aligns with budgeting limitations). Critical to this decision making process is the inclusion of all stakeholders and experts and that we leverage lessons learned from other communities worldwide (ie, Taiwan & Singapore) that encountered similar infrastructure challenges in the construction of their rail systems.

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

I believe that the Honolulu Police Department has taken great strides in the recent past to continually improve policing practices. We must not generalize what is occurring across the nation and place that negative connotation on our own police force. As in all organizations, accountability and transparency is critical in maintaining the trust and confidence of our police force and we must ensure that we hold those that choose to break the law and regulations accountable. We have systems in place for the oversight of our police department and we must ensure that we use these systems effectively to maintain this accountability.

What can county government do to mitigate the affects of sea-level rise on Oahu?

It is important for us to continue short term and long term efforts and initiatives to address climate change effects on Honolulu through programs such as the City and County’s Climate Action Plan. We must continue to collaborate as communities and with the experts to effectively combat climate change and set the conditions for the effects that climate change will bring to our islands.

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

I am not a career politician and it is clear that we need to change the narrative in a new direction moving forward to overcome the future of uncertainty that we face. I am here to serve our community. We need to move away from politics and we must do things for the right reasons or we will lose our Aloha Spirit & lose the Hawaii we love. I am committed to bring my proven leadership to serve our community with focused leadership to make informed decisions and take action to lead us in the right direction.


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