comscore 2022 Election: Chase (Kealiimalu) Nomura | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Chase (Kealiimalu) Nomura

  • Chase Nomura
Name on ballot:

Chase (Kealiimalu) Nomura

Running for:

State House – District 13

Political party:

Democrat

Campaign website:

chasenomura.com

Current occupation:

Executive Director, Maui County Workforce Development Board

Age:

28

Previous job history:

Program and Fiscal Specialist for the County of Maui Office of Economic Development,
Elections Clerk for the County of Maui Elections Division,
English Teacher and Trainer for Peace Corps Cambodia,
Botany Research Assistant for UH Manoa Botany Department.

Previous elected office, if any:

First time candidate

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

wetlands and forests in East Maui to helping our ranchers and farmers on Molokaʻi. I am a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii at Manōa, where I majored in Second Language Studies. I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to teach in Cambodia with the U.S. Peace Corps, an experience that really gave me a global perspective on government, cultures, and an appreciation for my life back home in Maui. Upon my return I began work with the Maui County Office of Elections and thereafter the Maui County Office of Economic Development. I was appointed this year as the Executive Director of the Maui County Workforce Development Board, where I manage programs and staff that seek to improve our workforce and the opportunities for us here in Maui. In my tenure with the County I have worked closely on policy issues, conducted legislative research, and helped to implement various programs that serve Mauiʻs working families. I also have a lot of experience with government budgets and contracts, a skill that would be instrumental at the capitol where the complexities of the state budget are often a challenge. I’ve connected community organizations and agencies in order to remove barriers to employment for jobseekers, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. I wholeheartedly want to create a better future for my community and family, and I’m seeking. I hope you will join me in my Chase for District 13.

What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?

Despite sharing common challenges and characteristics among its people, each island has their own share of unique problems. Many issues in District 13 also mirror that of the county as a whole- overtourism, lack of livable wages, climate change, coastal erosion, invasive species, agriculture, food security, and the economy in general. My priorities as the State Representative for District 13 would be to focus on addressing the current workforce shortage, improving our public school system, and preserving our natural environment. This could be done by finding creative ways to address the cost of living such as supporting living wage legislation, and creating new jobs by merging industries and diversifying the economy. I would also work on improving the procurement process to address the notorious maintenance and facilities backlog that holds up repairs and improvements of our educational institutions. While Hawaiʻi is leading the nation in a lot of areas of environmental and natural resource management, we could be doing much more. I would seek to introduce legislation that would bring local hunters, state and county officials, and members of the community together to formalize a process that would not only address the management, but also the commercial, educational, and workforce opportunities of invasive species management.

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?

The first step would be to stabilize the workforce and focus on finding ways to help employers and jobseekers connect successfully for employment. There are two things that we can do about this; take proactive measures to combat rising inflation, and enact broad legislation that seeks to address the rising cost of living. The State of Hawaii should focus on strengthening programs that help people get back to work and also provide immediate housing relief by increasing the affordable housing inventory. Despite the interest rates being raised causing a deflation in the price of goods and services, there is a lot more that the legislature can do to help working families. As for the second measure we could take to lower the cost of living, supporting local farmers and giving the taro farmers the water they need to grow staple foods would create a self-sustaining cycle that would make the cost of local produce and groceries cheaper over time. It’s almost impossible for a first time homebuyer to find a house because the real estate market is also very inflated. I would support legislation that prioritizes first time local homebuyers and expands government provided financial counseling and tax credits to help our locals continue to call Hawaii their home.

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?

Lowering state taxes on gasoline would make sense economically as it would be cheaper for oil distributors to ship and sell to our islands. I support finding solutions to our rising gasoline prices especially for our remote and rural communities. In addition, we should continue to look towards and discuss renewable forms of energy that could be implemented as we cut back on the price of fuel and electricity. Providing tax credits and suspending or lowering taxes should be seriously considered as a way to combat our rising gasoline prices. I would be open to exploring interstate agreements that would improve the supply network efficiency of not only things like gas, but goods and food as well.

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

We have seen throughout the course of this pandemic what our islands are like with tourists and without tourists. The fluctuations in visitor counts changed vastly during pre-pandemic, mid-pandemic, and post-pandemic. I support finding a healthy balance between having no travelers at all and having the islands at maximum capacity. As we slowly recover from COVID-19, it will take some time to find the right path forward when we are dealing with managing tourism in Hawai‘i, however, we must first diversify our economic industries to support such a change. The State of Hawaii’s pivot to the policy of “destination management” is something I support. This is especially important in District 13 where the remote areas of our district are often the most impacted by tourists, yet do not reap any equitable benefits.

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


While economic diversification has been underway in phases, we need to expand the scale and speed of this transformation. The first phase is to split and combine industries. A really good example of where we could improve on is a broadening of efforts to incorporate agri-tourism or eco-tourism. These types of tourism industries contain a component of agriculture and the ecosystem that are combined and diversified. Hybrid industries are the pathway forward in which we can drive diversification into our economy. I would support efforts and legislation that would strengthen, grow, and propagate hybrid industries in Hawai‘i.

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

Affordable housing and workforce housing both are a hot commodity here and are hard to come by. There is an immediate need to increase the housing inventory and improve the processes that are necessary for developers to create such housing. Permitting, zoning, and environmental issues continue to be a challenge to the state’s efforts of increasing the housing inventory. In addition to these issues there are anti-development debates about expansion of housing and there are environmental concerns surrounding our housing market on our islands. For us to clear a path forward, it would take legislation on a state level along with cooperation and teamwork from the individual counties to find ways to navigate the barriers that are preventing affordable housing from being built.

Houselessness and the unsheltered communities represent people who have run out of luck and ended up on the streets, people who may have mental or physical illnesses, and those who have come to Hawaii because of our hospitality and aloha. I would work with the counties to continue to foster an environment for non-profit organizations and agencies that provide services addressing their specific needs and give them a helping hand to get back on their feet again. Since most families in Hawaii are just one financial or health crisis away from looming houselessness, we should all be concerned with finding compassionate solutions to remedy this complex issue.

What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?

At-home test kits have been widely distributed throughout Hawai‘i and as a result our infection rate data has been skewed because people aren’t submitting positive cases out of fear of being ostracized. That being said, I believe we have all learned a lot from being quarantined and staying at home. One important lesson that we should have learned from the pandemic is how to take care of ourselves and our own health especially during a public health crisis. I will support continuing to pledge resources to our State Health Department to ensure that we are able to meet any future public health threat. I also want to make sure that we find ways to improve our state’s healthcare capacity by working with the healthcare providers and hospitals to be able to respond to future issues. We came so close to having our hospitals closed due to staffing issues, and I would like to see how the state can facilitate the shortage of medical professionals here in Hawaii.

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?

First and foremost it would be my priority to preserve state programs that take care of Hawaii’s most vulnerable. I would also like to see improvements on investments in the Department of Education, including more teacher pay/benefits, and closing the gap in the facilities/maintenance backlog for our schools. I would also seek to allocate money in State grants to provide agriculture related subsidies for eligible farmworkers in the workforce. I would also like to commit more state resources to fighting invasive species in the district, most notably for Axis Deer and Coqui Frog management as well as invasive plant species that continue to be an issue.

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

The state has started off on the right foot in passing legislation that provides free menstrual products in our public schools. Overall as a state, we align with democratic values of protecting women’s rights and the freedom of choice. We should continue addressing issues of inequality and sexism at all levels of society and honor the women who have given life to every single one of us.

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

It is critical that we increase funding for our public schools. Every keiki deserves their best chance at life through our public schools. While many schools and teachers are succeeding, we still have many that are falling through the cracks. Most recently, many families in my rural district have faced challenges of the availability of technology in their homes. Without reliable high-speed internet and access to an adequate device, their experience and potential to learn has no doubt suffered. I believe that this should be the cue for Hawaii to act more decisively on improving broadband in rural areas, and also improve access to technology in schools. As a former teacher, I also believe that we could be doing more to attract, train, and retain quality teachers in the form of better pay and benefits, something I will support in the legislature.

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

I support open-government reforms like expanding our sunshine laws and also making the accessing of public records easier. I also support term-limits, and limits on fundraising during any legislative session. These changes would only improve the public’s trust in the legislature, and would seek to allow accountability and a free exchange of information; which should be the tenet and focus of all Democracies.

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

I do not support the Thirty Meter Telescope. Both the improper stewardship on the summit of Mauna Kea and the disregard for the local community that would be impacted by it are the major reasons for my opposition. This conflict became a world-wide incident when elders and grandparents were being taken away by force and arrested on their own ancestral lands. It seemingly mocked cultural and traditional ways while refusing to compromise or consider their alternative location in the Canary Islands. That being said, stargazing, navigation, and indigenous wayfinding will always be home here within Hawaiian culture. Kanaka (Hawaiians) are people of science and logic. The state should prioritize including our host culture in any future decisions regarding cultural sites and communities of our indigenous peoples.

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

I’m born and raised on Maui and grew up on the beach and upcountry. My hobbies include surfing, swimming, & studying languages. In college I studied Second Language Studies which is applied linguistics in education and at the same time I was a botany research assistant. My interests range vastly from photography and graphic design to ethnobotany and woodworking. As a lifelong learner, I constantly seek to improve my knowledge of the world and skills that I can use in my career and personal life. I’ve learned a lot from volunteering for the organizations that I’ve been a part of such as; the Peace Corps, Protect Kahoolawe ‘Ohana, Maui Nui Botanical Garden, and Kamehameha Schools Alumni. This is my first time as a political candidate and I’ve learned so much through this journey so I hope that you will join me in the Chase for House District 13.


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