comscore 2022 Election: Gregg Takayama | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Gregg Takayama

  • Gregg Takayama
Name on ballot:

Gregg Takayama

Running for:

State House – District 34

Political party:

Democratic

Campaign website:

greggtakayama.com

Current occupation:

Full-time legislator

Age:

69

Previous job history:

Press secretary for U.S. Senator Dan Inouye; news reporter at KHON-TV and Honolulu Star-Bulletin; communications director at University of Hawaii-Manoa.

Previous elected office, if any:

Elected to the State House since 2012.

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I believe I’m qualified through my 1) first-hand knowledge of State and federal governments gained at the UH and with the late Senator Inouye; 2) listening skills used as a TV and print journalist; and 3) experience in helping solve community problems for the past 10 years as Representative.

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

My survey of district concerns earlier this year showed the top issues by far were the Red Hill water crisis and crime. We need to monitor the U.S. Navy’s promised actions to empty and relocate the fuel storage facility; while at the State legislative level we’ve passed a measure to prohibit any future underground storage facilities above water aquifers.

The Pearl City neighborhood has been victimized by catalytic converter thefts. We passed a measure to reduce the market for catalytic converters by imposing stricter rules on sellers and on scrap metal dealers who pay for them. This approach worked several years ago to reduce the problem of copper thefts and should be effective in curtailing catalytic converter thefts.

Much of our property crime is rooted in our severe drug problem and the need for users to pay for drugs. We need to step up drug treatment in jails and prison and increase our rehabilitation and job training programs prior to inmates’ release back into the community. I authored legislation to create the Correctional Oversight Commission to develop more effective programs in Hawaii’s correctional system.

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 supported measures this session to provide relief to struggling working families by raising the minimum wage, making the earned income tax credit refundable, giving a $300 tax rebate to individuals earning less than $100,000, and providing dental services to Medicaid recipients. But the biggest expense is housing, and we need to do more to help enable our families to afford decent homes.

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?

It sounds like a painless solution, but I don’t support suspension of the State gasoline tax because there is no assurance that the savings would be passed on by retailers to consumers. Also, the gas tax is the primary source of money to fix Hawaii’s roads and build new ones, and to provide matching funds for federal grants.

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

We cannot legally stop tourists from coming here but we can take steps to ensure that visitors help pay for protecting our environment and outdoor recreational resources. We should assess an impact fee on all incoming visitors (as other places have done) and use the revenues to clean up and upgrade our beaches, parks, trails and other popular gathering places.

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


We need to create more higher paying jobs here and one way of doing that is to step up investments in education at all levels and to expand our broadband capabilities so we have adequate technology to support an educated workforce.

In this digital age, our State should stimulate young people’s interest in science through activities like robotics, build on their curiosity through high school academies focusing on specific fields, and – at the college level – foster their abilities in innovation and entrepreneurship to create new businesses. All this requires the State to invest in broadband infrastructure to connect all areas with modern digital access and to connect Hawaii via undersea cable with Asia and the continental U.S.

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

I supported our investment of $600 million in the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to build more housing and $300 million for the State to subsidize construction of homes affordable to working families. We need to monitor these appropriations to ensure they’re spent effectively.
We have the potential to build high-density housing around transit line stations from Kalihi to Iwilei. We should explore ways to create more housing by replacing the many 2- and 3-story apartment walks-ups in McCully and Moiiliili with modern, moderate-density buildings with attractive open spaces between them.
Ohana zones were created 3 years ago to provide emergency shelter and support services to the homeless. They’ve been successful in getting people off the streets and so this year we provided $15 million to extend the Ohana zones for another 3 years.

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

Get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so and get booster shots if you qualify for them. People should be encouraged to wear masks indoors, especially in crowded places. All these steps are proven to be effective in protecting people’s health.

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?

One lesson from the pandemic is the urgent need to build resiliency in our essential professions – health care and education. We need continued support for the John A. Burns School of Medicine to expand residency and medical training on the Neighbor Islands, for the UH nursing program to hire more faculty to enable us to train more nurses, and for the UH to attract more students, especially on Neighbor Islands, into teaching programs. All these initiatives were funded this year but require sustained funding to be successful.

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

Women’s right to personal choice is protected in Hawaii’s Constitution. We should take steps to promote travel by women from other states to have abortion procedures performed by health professionals here in Hawaii.

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

We should provide financial incentives for UH students to pursue training programs critically important to Hawaii’s future – teaching, nursing, medicine, farming, engineering, to name a few. If we truly want to build a workforce capable of meeting Hawaii’s future needs, we should lessen the fiscal burden on our future leaders. Some loan repayment programs are already available in health professions, requiring a commitment to serve in certain areas, but we can do more to expand eligibility and extend opportunities to other fields of learning.

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

The Legislature greatly improved participation in public hearings during the pandemic by allowing testifiers to appear via Zoom and by recording committee hearings. This enabled people to participate without flying from Neighbor Islands or taking time off from work to travel to the Capitol. This should definitely continue, even with the reopening of the Capitol building to the public.
I regularly sponsored town meetings prior to the pandemic and will resume them when health conditions permit. I also listen to as many citizens as I can by participating in Neighborhood Board meetings, communicating with newsletters and public surveys, and visiting door-to-door.

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

I support construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope because of its importance to the science world and potential contributions to Hawaii’s economy. I think the University of Hawaii can be trusted to manage Mauna Kea, with collaboration from native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and the larger community. It has greatly improved its environmental awareness and management practices from 25 years ago – as have we all.

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

Ten years ago I decided to run for the House – at the age of 59 – because I felt the Legislature might benefit from my years of professional and life experience. Now, more than ever, I believe older people – retirees or near-retirees from business and government – should run for office. We need more legislators who know firsthand what government programs work and, even more importantly, which DON’T work when we make decisions. We usually equate “new” blood with youth, but our older generation has a wealth of knowledge and ability that is under-utilized.


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