comscore 2022 Election: Gary Gill | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Gary Gill

  • Gary Gill
Name on ballot:

Gary Gill

Running for:

State House – District 27

Political party:

Democrat

Campaign website:

FriendsofGaryGill.com

Current occupation:

Retired State Environmental Director

Age:

62

Previous job history:

Private sector:
Oversees Camp Palehua and conservation projects in the Waianae mountains.
State Government:
Deputy Director for Environmental Health for the state of Hawaii under two governors. Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control.
City Government:
Honolulu City Council Member and Chair.
Nonprofit Organizations:
Blue Planet Foundation, Executive Director of Waimea Valley, Kokua Kalihi Valley Community Health Clinic, Director of Development for the Sierra Club.
Labor Advocate:
Political Action Coordinator for the Hotel Workers Union, Local 5, Sheraton Waikiki housekeeping department.
Community Experience:
Gary has served on these nonprofit and public boards:
Honolulu Rate Commission * Seagull Schools preschool * Hawaii Bicycling League * Oahu Land Trust * Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter * Historic Hawaii Foundation * Punchbowl Place Condominium Association * Honolulu Neighborhood Housing Services

Previous elected office, if any:

City Council Member and Council Chair

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I am one of a few candidates for public office with experience as a public program administrator, a nonprofit and community leader and an elected official. This lifetime of commitment helps me to understand problems and see solutions. I will bring a legacy of public service and honesty to the State House of Representatives.

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

Residents in my district are often concerned about local issues such as the construction of large “monster” homes that do not respect the residential nature of the neighborhood, traffic, especially along Pali Highway, homelessness and crime.

Monster homes are mostly a City zoning issue but I will work closely with the Council to regulate over-development and enforce zoning laws. Pali Highway pedestrian crossing improvements have helped but DOT is resisting adding any more stoplights. I will support complete streets funding and projects to make all our roadways safer for bikers, walkers and non-automobile travel. I will address the root cause of homelessness – the inequality caused by our economic system – and push for more funding for affordable rental development and housing first with services to encourage those living on the streets to take shelter in a safe and healthy place

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?

I support the elimination of the General Excise Tax (GET) on food and medicine. Tax revenues to the state can be supplemented by raising the Tourist Tax. The minimum wage needs to continually be raised to keep up with inflation. Promoting food production for the local market will help resist rising food costs. Constructing affordable rentals for local people will reduce the monthly housing cost for struggling families. Gas prices will probably continue to rise over time. We need to continue to promote electric and non-automobile transportation like bicycling to save people money.

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 gas taxes will do nothing to cut fuel prices if the oil companies don’t pass on those savings to the consumers. We need to promote public transportation and electric and human powered mobility. We should expect the “pain at the pump” to continue to get worse because of global conflict and the diminishing global oil supply.

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

We had too many tourists when there were 6 million coming each year. Now we have two times too many tourists. We need to charge a premium for visitors to come to Hawaii and pump the revenue into protecting the beauty and special environment of our islands. We should not support more rental cars, more hotel units or more airports. Enough already. Mass tourism is a culture killer. I seek a right-sized visitor industry that creates jobs that support local families. One job should be enough to raise a family in Hawaii. The visitor industry should put more money into the local economy and take less profit out of state or overseas. Tourism should work for us before we work for the tourists.

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


We have been talking about diversifying Hawaii’s economy for a century. The tourist industry was promoted after World War II to diversify Hawaii’s plantation economy. Now we are overly dependent on tourism and have been for decades. It will take many years to build a broader based economy. The key is to use the money generated from tourism to support the start up of other businesses. Local clothing, food, technology innovation, clean energy and film production are all possible growth industries. The University of Hawaii is one driver of new business opportunities. Many jobs can now be performed remotely and this changes the employment landscape. The state can set tax policy to provide financial incentives for investment in new and expanded enterprise that will provide higher paying jobs for our people.

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

We need to expand the housing models that are proven to work. Housing first with wrap around social services will be needed to move our people off the streets and into safe living conditions that will address problems like mental illness and drug addiction. Speeding the development of affordable rentals that remain affordable forever will require the commitment of public funds. When I was on the City Council we built hundreds of units for kupuna, and modest income families. The City closed down its housing department and left the job to the State. That was a huge mistake that we are paying for today with a massive affordable housing shortage. We know how to build affordable housing, we have just been lacking the political will to make the investment of public resources to get the job done.

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

We know how to do this. We have been doing it for the last few years. Wash your hands, wear a mask, get your shots and be cautious in crowds. COVID, in its mutating forms will continue to be with us for years. Most of us know that we are in this together and continue to act responsibly to protect ourselves and our community. Unfortunately, most of those dying from COVID are those who have refused vaccination or could not get the needed services. We will need to continue to talk science and common sense to those who have fallen prey to conspiracy theories and hokum.

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?

The big budget this past session was based on a huge federal cash infusion and a rebounding economy. The legislature just made large investments in needed programs that they had starved over the past decades. We will need to invest in public infrastructure to respond to the rising sea level. Health and human service programs will need support to care for our aging population. Housing development that will create forever affordable living units will need millions. Strategic spending to improve public education, provide free college education to deserving students and retain qualified teachers is a priority.

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

We need to keep our state laws to assure that women’s health and reproductive rights are protected. Abortion should be legal, safe and rare. Sex education and counseling services that protect individual privacy should be expanded.

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

The legislature should avoid meddling too deeply with the University and the Board of Education. Our education systems are set up to be mostly autonomous and they should be allowed to function without micro managing and personal vendettas from lawmakers. We need to assure that adequate funding is provided to improve and maintain school facilities – for example, building locker rooms to accommodate female sports in all the schools that lack them. Funding to retain qualified teachers, especially in remote and hard-to-staff community schools is a priority.

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

Kalani English and Ty Cullen taking bribes really angers me. This violation of the public trust does tremendous damage to our democracy especially in these times of public cynicism.

We need to take the power of money out of our elections. Political Action Committees that allow the wealthy to hide their political ambitions are killing our democracy. Preventing fundraisers during the session is a good idea but it will do nothing to prevent special interest money from “rewarding” politicians for their support the day after the session closes. I will support more openness and “sunshine” and commonsense reforms like greater disclosure from lobbyists.

The free press is a watchdog over government corruption but it has been diminished in recent years. Great harm has come from the growth of rumor-spreading over social media and the rants of demagogues demonizing reporters and claiming what they don’t like to be “fake news.” Restoring a free and independent press should be a priority if we want to save democracy from further decline.

The video-based participation that became necessary during the pandemic actually made participation at the Capitol easier for the public. Let’s keep that going. Usually, the only people who can afford to be at the Legislature during session are paid lobbyists, a few nonprofit groups and an occasional regular citizen sacrificing a day’s pay to speak to lawmakers.

Legislators should have to vote in public to kill a bill in committee or decide not to hear it. It would be easier to monitor legislation if the Legislature considered all the budget bills over a time and heard the non-fiscal items at a different time. This would reduce the “mad scramble” to pass measures all at once that often can lead to defective legislation.

Instead of limiting the service of legislators, we should promote measures to encourage democratic vitality. Ranked-choice voting, returning to multi-member districts, more public financing for low-budget races, publishing voter guides and sponsoring issues forums at no cost to candidates, civics classes for young and old, making legislative positions full-time to avoid conflict of interest and encourage working class candidates – all these and other reforms should be considered.

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

I support the continued use of Mauna Kea for Astronomy. The mauna needs to be better managed to respect Hawaiian cultural and historical traditions and practices. I hope the law passed by the Legislature to create a new management entity for Mauna Kea will help. If TMT or any new telescope is built, other facilities should be removed from service.

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

I have spent my life in service to these islands and our people. I stand for fairness, justice and equality for our people. I know that I don’t know all the answers to these difficult questions. I want to hear your ideas and thoughts, whether you agree with me or not. Our democratic system depends on the exchange of opinions and listening to all points of view with respect. This is what I will do.


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