comscore 2022 Election: Jenna Takenouchi | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2022 Election: Jenna Takenouchi

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  • Jenna Takenouchi
Name on ballot:

Jenna Takenouchi

Running for:

State House – District 27

Political party:

Democratic Party

Campaign website:

Current occupation:

Office Manager – Representative Takashi Ohno (District 27)



Previous job history:

Account Executive, Bennet Group Strategic Communications; Client Services Specialist, Progressive Communications; Committee Clerk, Office of Rep. Tom Brower; Manager, Harbor Court Bistro; Legislative Aide; Office of Rep. Glenn Wakai

Previous elected office, if any:

No answer submitted

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

For the last 10 years, I partnered with the current state representative to build a strong, responsive network with the residents of District 27 where neighbors freely approach the office for information, solutions to their issues, or help with their legislative interests. As residents’ main point of contact, I have been involved in daily collaboration with government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits to address issues ranging from crime and safety issues to infrastructure maintenance of our public roads and facilities. With this institutional knowledge of the district’s priorities, I am ready to continue that work and take the lead in representing their interests in the House of Representatives.

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

With the overwhelming concerns about crime and public safety I’ve heard about from residents, I’d work to support long-term solutions for rehabilitation and preventing recidivism. Accessibility to robust mental health and substance abuse treatment, both in diversion programs and within our corrections system, is key. In addition, I believe that after someone has been incarcerated, we need to ensure that they have adequate tools to reenter society and be productive members of the community. We need to ensure they have access to IDs, housing, job opportunities, and health care to set them on the right path forward.

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?

Everyone is feeling the daily impacts of inflation on our essentials like gas and groceries. When the 2023 legislative session convenes, it will be particularly important to consider this before imposing new taxes or creating new programs that will add even more financial burdens on residents. Funding programs for food security and other necessities will also be necessary to help our residents most in need.

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?

While the rising price of gasoline rates has a major impact on Hawaii residents, the gas tax supports our public infrastructure as well as energy and environmental initiatives meant to move us toward our renewable energy goals. Hawaii fuel tax has three parts – a state fuel tax, a county fuel tax, and the environmental response, energy, and food security tax. In general, consumers pay around $.16 per gallon in state tax depending on the fuel for fifteen gallons of gas. As such, the average consumer would only save $2.40 each time they filled up with a suspension of the state tax.
The total state collection of all fuel tax is about $9 million per month. Government can also look into alternatives such as helping the counties expand public transportation service and subsidizing costs of weekly or monthly passes to give residents alternative, cost-effective ways to commute.

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

I support the shift towards sustainable tourism to limit the impact of tourists on Hawaii’s fragile environment. Efforts promoting cultural and sustainable education to our visitors, reservation systems to limit access to high traffic attractions, and impact fees to maintain sites are all ways we should continue to promote managed and responsible tourism. The effectiveness of this approach was demonstrated through positive management efforts at attractions like Hanauma Bay and the Diamond Head trail.

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

An opportunity that was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic was the value of telework and I believe we should lean into expanding and encouraging this work modality. This would allow people to work for out of state companies and then spend a paycheck into Hawaii’s economy.
Government can and must increase stable broadband access in Hawaii, especially in our rural communities. Investing in this critical infrastructure provides an opportunity not only for local businesses to expand capacity, but also for more local residents to work remotely for national or international companies. For decades we’ve talked about brain drain as more and more of our young people choose to move to the mainland to pursue better opportunities. Remote work allows locals to be able to live in Hawaii with their families without passing up job opportunities in competitive fields.

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

The state should continue dialogue with the counties on how we can address the barriers they’re experiencing along with financial support for safety net programs to keep individuals and families from falling into homelessness. The promotion of robust mental health and substance abuse programs to help those in critical states, and projects the like Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons (HONU), which brings services to sites where they are needed most in the community, are key.
Second, we can revaluate how to unburden regulation to promote the building of affordable housing units through the state low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and exemptions created by 201H for expedited programs for affordable rentals in the densely populated urban core that creates more housing availability. I plan to continue conversation with State and City agencies on how we can encourage the development of affordable housing units based on current impediments in our system.

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

Now that nearly all adults and children are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, continued efforts to educate residents about the benefits of the vaccine is crucial. Ongoing communication to build trust and confidence in vaccinations, monitoring and additional outreach to groups or communities that may have additional barriers like language or cultural considerations and maintaining programs that make it easy and convenient to complete vaccine protocols can ensure our community is protected. Listening to the recommendations from the Department of Health and our medical facilities about limits for ICU and bed space if we spike and reach a critical point the requires government intervention is also necessary to ensure public safety.

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?

Mental health care and substance abuse treatment programs for homeless individuals and those in our criminal justice system. Financial literacy education from elementary school through adult programs to ensure residents have the tools to make smart, long-term financial decisions.

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

While abortion care remains intact in Hawaii, the state should continue to maintain access to medical professionals and facilities providing this necessary healthcare option and expand access in rural communities. The state also needs to ensure availability and access to contraception is preserved for residents.

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

One way to improve public education in Hawaii is to ensure that our teachers are adequately supported and prepared in their classrooms. This means fixing and maintaining our aging facilities so that classrooms are spaces ready to promote learning in the 21st Century. I also support ways to retain local teachers long-term in their school communities. New teachers should receive strong mentorship program support as they enter the school system and continuing teachers should have access to expanded professional development opportunities on an ongoing basis.

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

I look forward to considering the recommendations the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct proposes for the 2023 Legislative Session. Additionally, I support continuing remote testifying options and live streaming of committee hearings, informational briefings, and floor sessions on YouTube, as it was a good start towards increasing accessibility and transparency to the public. However, digital equity and digital literacy gaps still exist in many communities where access to stable broadband connection and smart devices as well as the skills to navigate website submissions and Zoom meetings remain a barrier. I support creating more free venues in our public libraries and other community spaces to enhance these initial steps taken.

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

Earlier this year, the legislature created the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority, which was created after extensive discussion and recommendations of The Mauna Kea Working Group. This authority is made up of stakeholders representing interests for government oversight, land use, Native Hawaiian practitioners, business, and post-secondary academia among others and I support its intent is to balance the roles of culture and science at Mauna Kea.

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

Over the last ten years working for the residents of District 27, I’ve heard a growing sense of dissatisfaction and apathy towards government overall. When the public considers government as an inscrutable conglomerate, it fosters disconnection and divisiveness. However, I’ve also seen firsthand through my work that putting a face to a government office and providing a personal connection with residents transforms this sentiment. Knowing that there is an actual person behind the title allows people to feel comfortable enough to have an open dialogue and discuss the best ways to find solutions to the community’s problems. They may not always agree with me, or with one another, but I want the residents of District 27 to know that I am dedicated to listening to their concerns and coming together to find solutions.

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