comscore 2022 Election: Sam Puletasi | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Sam Puletasi

  • sam puletasi
Name on ballot:

Sam Puletasi

Running for:

Lieutenant Governor

Political party:

Democratic

Campaign website:

www.facebook.com/sam.puletasi; Email: palasispuletasi@hotmail.com

Current occupation:

Retired Federal Agent and Community Leader

Age:

60

Previous job history:

Retired Disabled Senior Special Agent DOJ/INS-ICE; Former Active AFGE Union Steward; Retired Hawaii State Medical Board Public Member; Held Board Member role for Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Neighborhood Board NB 23 Ewa Beach, Filipino Urdanetta Associates of Hawaii, Long Region 7 OCC/Democratic Party of Hawaii, held positions as District/Vice Chair, District Counsel, Treasurer, Secretary, OCC Entertainment Director; Executive Committee/OCC-DPH; Assigned to various OCC-DPH committees Re: Previous Community Media News Reporter/Editor/Journalism/Entertainer

Previous elected office, if any:

Long serving Member For Neighborhood Board NB23 Ewa Beach; Ran For CD1; LG 2014; State House and State Senate.

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

REFER TO MY PREVIOUS HISTORY. IT DOESNT TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST TO BECOME A LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

What will be your top priority if elected?

I will not limit myself to one area. I believe a collaborative approach to de escalate mental health crises through critical social service departments, courts and mental health providers, enhance public safety, improve Health Care system and DOH, assist significantly in education, nutrition, housing. transportation and overall well-being. Increasing income disparity and gentrification is driving many into poverty and homelessness. We must address the growing cost of living with living wages and affordable housing. We must also support local agriculture and alternative energy to limit our dependence on imports, otherwise we will remain at the mercy of national and international markets.

How do you view the role of the lieutenant governor’s office and how will you approach fulfilling that role?

I view the role of the lieutenant governor as a co-pilot. The pilot fly the plane whereas the co pilot assist the pilot in-flight. Team work! The LG position is to serve as the assistant chief executive, acting as governor upon his or her absence from the state and secretary of state. Further, assumes the office and duties of governor in the case of impeachment, death, resignation, removal from office, or getting a time out…

Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the state level to help Hawaii residents cope with high consumer prices?

It would be necessary to remove some of the regulations and restrictions that prevent not only high consumer prices but it should also help residents for affordable housing. We should try to cut government spending and beat the state inflation through appropriate budgeting. Our state government must be responsible in enforcing laws against price gouging.

Hawaii’s rising gasoline prices are among the highest in the nation. Should Hawaii lower or temporarily suspend state taxes on gasoline to help ease the pain at the pump?

I support any measures that will ease the pain at the pump, if not eliminate state taxes on gasoline. These laws no longer applicable during these hard economic times and therefore I support price control on this issue. As a disabled individual, I rely on my vehicle for mobility but the cost of gas is so ridiculous that I could hardly operate normally for many of community obligations and particularly doing any campaigning for this darn election. Good thing technologies has been a great accommodation to get my recognition out through news media, social media, emails and networks.

What is your plan to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?

I will like to ensure a smooth transition for an effective protective and preventive measures with the current administration regarding its existing policies and directives. I will like to review all existing health policies and directives with the department of health concerning past practices on vaccinations consisting with CDC guidelines and determine if there were or are accountable issues which required public knowledge and take immediate appropriate actions deemed necessary in order to restore public trust.

Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.

I feel the island is burdened by over tourism and thus require some control without affecting the tourism industry. Hawaii may require to work something out with the federal government to limit the number of visa waiver pilot program on foreign countries, renegotiate conditions of the FSM Compact of Free Association, or implement travel requirements on any visitors from mainland and abroad. According to 2017 state government data, there were 9.4 million visitors to the Hawaiian islands and 10.4 millions in 2019. Although it went down during the pandemic, it skyrocketed in 2021 to 6.7 million visitors. State can also negotiate with airlines to minimize daily incoming flights during peak seasons deemed necessary. This can alleviate the influx of travelers who maybe tested positive with dangerous deceases. Also, this may help from possible lockdown.

How can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and what can state government do to support the effort?

Department of tourism is responsible to encourage, promote and develop tourism as a major socio-economic activity to generate currency and jobs and to expand the benefits of tourism to both private and public sector. Government involves in many ways to support tourism such as marketing and promotion, controlling or managing tourism attractions such national parks, museums, ferries, transportation, better security and health accesses, relocation sites for homeless people visibly seen in open public and information centers for proper guidance to recreations, entertainment, restaurants and many locations.

What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?

Affordable housing allows eligible and qualified applicants to purchase at below market prices. Purchase prices are income based and income limits will vary by project. HUD also helps apartment owners offer reduced rents to low income tenants.

The most successful intervention for ending chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing, which couples permanent housing with supportive services that target specific needs of an individual or family. In addition to providing a yearlong environment that is comfortable for outdoor living, I will also provide a number of city, state and federally-funded programs that help homeless people within its city limits… I will propose a partnership with the state and service providers to create a Joint City-State Permanent Supportive Housing Project in Honolulu. City funding for this project is provided through an appropriation from the City Affordable Housing Fund. One-half of one percent of real property tax revenues are deposited to this fund to provide and maintain affordable housing for persons earning less than 50% of city’s median household income. The State of Hawaii now has 26,003 affordable housing units in its total inventory, according to Data in May 2021 from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation. But the only effective solution to homelessness is housing. Rapid rehousing is an intervention designed to help individuals and families quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing through rental assistance paired with intensive case management. The single biggest thing that I will do to reduce homelessness is write grants for Federal housing programs are one of the most successful housing based solutions to reduce homelessness. The two largest federal housing programs are public housing and federal housing vouchers, known as Housing Choice Vouchers or Section 8 vouchers.

Hawaii isn’t likely to see a repeat of this year’s $2 billion revenue surplus which allowed higher-than-normal spending on state programs and projects. If elected, what will your top spending priorities be?

1. It will be my number one priority as the Lieutenant Governor to work towards solutions for our homelessness crisis which has a devastating social and economic impact on our state.
2. Budget Proposal – the Budget Estimate is not yet available, but we will pass a balanced budget that will strengthen the Hawaii economy and assure that it retains its global competitiveness.
3. Property Tax Reform – H Hu The state of Hawaii has the lowest property tax rate in the nation at 0.28%. Despite this, the median annual tax payment in the state is $1,871, which is much higher. This is because Hawaii has the highest median home value in the U.S. at $669,200.
4. School Choice – There is broad support for legislation to ensure that every parent has the option to send their child to the school they believe is best for them.
5. Photo Voter ID – Nothing is more critical to our democracy than the integrity of the voting process. Photo Voter ID is essential.
6. Women’s Privacy Act – A majority of Hawaiians in both political parties and in every ethnic and demographic group believe that women and girls should have privacy and safety in their restrooms, showers and locker rooms. Unfortunately, legislation is necessary to assure that they do.
7. Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships – “Pass the Trash” – With the rapid increase in the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, legislation is needed to strengthen the reporting and training requirements, and establish appropriate penalties. Priority must be given to protecting our students at every level of the school system.
8. Fetal Tissue/Partial Birth Abortion – We will continue to fight to protect the dignity and sanctity of life by increasing criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue, among other protections, and we will ban partial birth abortion in Hawaii.
9. Spending Cap – We will continue to fight to strengthen the state spending limit so our government lives within its means.
10. I will focus my efforts on a comprehensive economic recovery plan that will jump-start our economy, make sure that people have access to affordable housing and quality health care, and support initiatives that will ensure that our young people have the necessary education, skills and training to get good-paying jobs here at home.
As lieutenant governor we will have a total of 30 low-number, high priority pieces of legislation including reduction of the hand-gun licensing fee, ethics reform, CPS reforms, tuition reforms and continuing to reduce the state franchise tax.

What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?

This decision will deprive millions of people in this country of the basic freedom to make decisions for their own bodies. I will rely on the governor to address this issue. In the meantime, I’m suggesting the public to take protective measures until such time the governor will find ways to remove some financial barriers to abortion services as the law may ban insurance providers or health plans from requiring cost sharing payments such as deductibles, coinsurance or copayments for abortion or abortion related care.

What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?

State government should listen to what teachers and principals need to provide students with a 21st century education also make sure that bureaucracy does not get in the way and start dictating “new and improved” ways of educating our children.

Restructuring/De-structuring
Now seems like the perfect time to restructure the top-down system that has long been in place in Hawaii. Ideally, each county would be its own school district with its own board of education — a board that absolutely must include educators as members.
These systemic changes have been discussed for decades and involve major stakeholders shifting some of the power from Honolulu to better support individual schools.
Innovation could also involve eliminating many of the Department of Education’s bureaucratic positions in order to provide more support for principals. Also, acknowledge and address overcrowding; Make funding schools a priority; Address the school-to-prison pipeline; Raise standards for teachers; Put classroom-running and curriculum-building decisions in the hands of the community.

We need to define and understand what innovation is. It means inspiring students to find their passion and be creative. For students to be creative, teachers need the time and space to develop their own creativity. There is a myriad of resources available for helping teachers develop the twenty-first-century skills of communication, collaboration, communication and cultural awareness. We can look within our own state for help supporting and inspiring teachers.

We are in an exciting time for change and innovation. Education is an area that affects every single person. We will take advantage of this new hope and the dollars available to make significant change that has an impact.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make state government more transparent to the public?

Hawaii is among the worst in the nation when it comes to being transparent about the way state government spends its money.

We will require our elected officials and other significant policymakers to submit annual public financial disclosures. In Massachusetts, these disclosure forms are called Statements of Financial Interest (“SFIs”). Such disclosures are an essential tool for the public and press to protect against the potential intrusion of conflicts of interest into public policymaking.

Pioneer developed this data application to compare how states make these financial disclosures public. The goal of this project is to encourage the public to demand that their states institute practices that will lead to greater transparency. We applaud the nine highly-transparent states with perfect scores: Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia.

We will Explore Mass Watch – Pioneer Institute’s free resource for promoting citizen engagement in state and local government. Public access to public information. Without that, maintaining a healthy democracy is impossible. In fact, we will require that legislators “at all times” be accountable to the public and that the people have the right to “instruct” their legislators. This suite of free websites below allows the public to access vast amounts of information on state and local governments. Each of these tools features user-friendly queries to help you navigate.

We will utilize a tool like the Pioneer’s suite of free data resources that promote citizen engagement in state and local government. It is near impossible to maintain a healthy democracy without public access key information. The free websites that make up Mass Watch provide access to vast amounts of data with user-friendly queries to foster public participation in government.

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

With all do respect to our culture and history, our children are living in a more dangerous time in life. Hawaii is in the center of many powerful countries having nuclear conflicts though dropping one nuke on the island will completely wipe out everything that we’ve been cherished.

Given the historical overview of Mauna Kea as a sacred mountain, I believe both the Native Hawaiians and the scientific community should work together and come up with some compromise in order to utilize the telescope for the benefit of our future generations militarily, educationally, culturally and restoration of Hawaiian traditions. We need to be more realistic nowadays and focus on how our today’s decisions will affect our future generations although there will always be pros and cons on issues.

Though, the opposition to the TMT construction is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. It represents decades of poor management of Hawaii’s natural resources and prioritizing of economic interests ahead of community interests. As a result, Native Hawaiians have turned out in droves to oppose TMT. We see a similar thing going on, initiated due to different reasons, in Puerto Rico right now with respect to another governor who has been deaf to the pleas and concerns of their population.

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

Vote Sam Puletasi for Hawaii Lieutenant Governor.


View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
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