Name on ballot:
Jillian T Anderson
State House – District 24
Legislative Analyst (2022 Legislative Session)
Previous job history:
No answer submitted
Previous elected office, if any:
No answer submitted
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
For as long as I can remember, Hawaii has been my home. My life has always been full of sun, sand, and surf, and not one day goes by where I don’t feel blessed to live in our beautiful islands. From K-12, I attended Sacred Hearts Academy in Kaimuki, where I developed a strong moral foundation while coming of age in an environment that empowered young women. Following graduation, I was honored to be admitted as a freshman to our University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Shidler College of Business. With a love of learning, I was granted approval each semester to take a greater than average course load, allowing me to graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration, focusing in entrepreneurship, marketing, and finance, as well as a minor in history. Amid my academic experiences, I harnessed a strong work ethic, developed skills allowing for fruitful collaboration and teamwork, and learned the importance of follow-through when it comes to attaining a goal. In the 2022 Legislative Session, I was able to apply these skills in my role serving our State House of Representatives’ Republican caucus as a Legislative Analyst. During this experience, I witnessed the legislative process firsthand and its capacity to bring about great change. I found that the most effective representatives are those who possess sound judgment, openmindeness, and a healthy balance of idealism and realism. When complemented with an upright character and a passion to do the best by our people, I believe I possess the qualities I would want in a representative, and as I hope this message has conveyed, are those that you would want representing you, too.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
Waikiki is experiencing a rise in homelessness, with many in this population also suffering from mental illness and addiction. As a result, residents are feeling a decreased sense of public safety. I would address this growing concern with a top-to-bottom approach, rather than piecemeal initiatives. Firstly, we must put more resources into treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, as well as focus heavily on mental health. Secondly, we need to invest more in transitionary services. More shelters should be opened, not closed. Job placement and educational opportunities like trade schools should be readily accessible. We too must bolster food security and medical services, in order to reduce the connection that lacking these fundamentals creates when it comes to a rise in crime, particularly theft. Finally, increasing our supply of truly affordable housing will provide all from our chronically homeless to those who simply can no longer bear the crushing weight of our high cost of living a fighting chance at finding a home they can call their very own.
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?
With the vast majority of our consumer goods imported, Hawaii residents are often at the mercy of a complex supply chain, which presently possesses many points where costs, and ultimately prices, are heightened. As a State, the best way to be impermeable to these ripple effects is to reduce our reliance on domestic or international chains, and instead foster one with as many locally-based elements as possible. The food and agricultural industries in particular are ripe for the State to encourage growth, especially being we are largely food insecure. Financial incentives, such as tax credits, can stir interest, as well as continuing to foster a prosperous small business environment. With more competition on store shelves, prices will lower, while local producers with fewer links in their supply chain will be less reactive to extraneous causes for price increases. In addition, our State Legislature has in the past proposed removing the general excise tax from goods such as food products, diapers, and medications. Such a reduction in one’s grocery bill is sure to add up for working families. Lastly, I would support a serious discussion regarding the Jones Act, and how great an impact its reform, suspension, or removal would have on our economy.
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 is an unfortunate circumstance that the states are forced to seek ways to provide even a few cents of relief to their people due to a failure of domestic policy. But for the hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents who cannot be priced into purchasing an electric vehicle or hold out for a rise in domestic oil production, something must bend, and in this case, Hawaii should follow the actions of other states and institute either lower state gas taxes or a gas tax holiday. We must always seek ways to lower our increasingly unbearable cost of living, and a temporary policy is the right decision for the hopefully temporary situation we find ourselves in.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
Having lived in Waikiki nearly all my life, I am often reminded of the tourism industry’s benefits and drawbacks. Since the advent of social media, the effects of tourism have spread to not just affect tourist hubs, but leave few places sacred for locals. Concurrently, our fragile environment and ecosystems are facing adverse impacts from overtourism, making efforts to reduce the number of tourists a necessity. I am encouraged by the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s shift from tourism marketing to management, as well as the rebranding of our State as a place of cultural and environmental significance, rather than a tropical playground. By fostering a tourism industry that balances its needs with that of our communities, our islands and people will be happier and healthier, while visitors will feel more enriched by their experiences.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
Tourism will always play a major role in our economy, though I would advocate strongly for diversifying to industries that bring more benefits to our islands beyond just revenue.
One sector vital for enhancing our self-sufficiency is food production and agriculture. With more than 80% of our food imported, we are extremely food insecure. Encouraging entrepreneurship and enabling a prosperous business environment in food growing and production will do wonders for expanding our job market, providing more choices at the grocery store, thereby lowering prices, and even allow us to generate substantial revenue by exporting certain products. In addition, I would also support the growth of industries such as film, astronomy/aerospace, and information technology to provide economic diversification and job opportunities in fields with high potentials.
Our state government can encourage investment in these areas through economic means, such as tax credits and grants, as well as by regulating in a manner that allows for a free market while protecting consumers and ensuring a competitive landscape.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
For most, the largest monthly expense is housing, and every day more and more residents sign on to a mortgage ensuring decades of substantial financial burden. By increasing housing supply through lighter regulations, zoning and land use reform, and exploring the prospects of a bifurcated market where affordable units are destined for local residents, we can reduce this great drain on our people’s economic futures. I also support previously proposed legislation encouraging homeownership, such as creating a first-time homebuyers savings program.
Factors contributing to homelessness extend beyond simply not having a home, and in many cases, the lack of stable shelter due to affordability leads to a myriad of other concerns. Investing in programs that enhance food security and medicine/healthcare access, provide job and educational opportunities, and offer treatment for mental illness and addiction would be a holistic approach, complementing the expansion of truly affordable housing.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
As we strive to live with COVID-19 in our society rather than be paralyzed by it, I believe its presence will continue to shine a light on the needs of our healthcare system. To protect the health of our residents both from COVID-19 and countless other medical concerns, we desperately need to bolster our resources, facilities, and number of healthcare workers, especially on the neighbor islands. We also too often ignore the natural advantages of our environment and temperate climate, and should encourage our residents to partake in activities outdoors, where fresh air and the sun’s rays are proven to be nature’s disinfectants, as well as contribute greatly to one’s health. Finally, I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. Now over 2 years into this pandemic, all information regarding transmission, vaccine efficacy, treatments, and general best practices should be available to our people, and as we have seen, our communities will often make choices for themselves with the health of their neighbors in mind.
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?
Generally, I favor a lean government with responsible spending. Ultimately, government exists to serve the people, and the people finance the government in exchange for that benefit. I would prioritize spending that achieves this end, in the most direct way possible. State government should invest in its people, such as through improving public safety, reducing homelessness, and expanding educational and job opportunities. It should also invest in its economy by seeking diversification of industry, encouraging the prosperity of the private sector, and ensuring resiliency. Lastly, investment in the environment we all live in is vital, through maintaining and upgrading infrastructure, securing our natural resources, and funding projects that enhance our residents’ quality of life.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
The premise, where any power not granted to the federal government is therefore that of the states, is one in which I wholeheartedly agree. With this ruling, our configuration as a union of 50 distinct states was put on full display. With Hawaii now regaining its right to decide on the matter, we reflect on our previous position, which was established prior to Roe vs Wade in 1970. I believe that the laws of our State should reflect the beliefs of the majority of its people. Now over 50 years later, if there is a change in public opinion, I believe the State should respond accordingly. Our legislators should have their finger on the pulse of the people at all times, and with data currently leaning in favor of keeping Hawaii’s laws as is, our state government’s response should mirror this sentiment.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
It is no secret our State’s public school teachers struggle to balance their passion with their pay grade, especially amid a rising cost of living. Due to this, we continue to suffer from low teacher retention rates, and our students miss out on being educated by those with vast experience and expertise. Bettering our public education starts with helping those who instill it, with higher salaries and housing assistance two ways we can invest in our teachers, and by extension, the future of our State.
I also believe our public education system must better correlate the skills taught with those necessary in the 21st century workforce and adulthood in general. Financial literacy and basic civics, for example, should be graduation requirements. Students should have access to technology and software that gives them an edge over others in a higher education setting or the job market. I am also extremely supportive of allowing our State’s high schoolers to receive credit for learning outside of the classroom, by expanding opportunities to gain “real world” experience in sectors like agriculture, hospitality, and government. Last, but certainly not least, our public education system can maximize the potential of its students following graduation by offering programs that provide college credits or skill certifications.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
When serving as a Legislative Analyst for our State House of Representatives, I was honored to witness our government’s inner workings, though while doing so, recognized areas in need of greater transparency. Presently, there are earnest attempts to bring light to the complex process, such as through live streaming floor sessions, committee hearings, and conferences on YouTube, and allowing testifiers to take part using Zoom. Near up-to-the-minute updates on the Hawaii State Capitol website too provide the public an opportunity to keep track of activities.
Yet, no matter how vigilant one is, in many cases it remains impossible to know how the sausage gets made. This fact was only exacerbated when the building shut down to the public due to COVID-19, and continued to be restricted despite countless other public buildings lifting their limitations. One of the biggest ways I believe transparency can be restored is by being forthcoming with the motivation for bills and the entities they are designed to benefit. Many bills introduced are done so “by request” or possess specificities making them pertinent to a particular business or even a particular individual. As has been proven through recently exposed corruption, legislators are not immune to passing bills with ulterior motives, while their fellow legislators can be left in the dark as to who exactly their vote will be benefiting. I would reform this by requiring the release of the identity of the “requestor”, as well as if the bill was authored or co-authored by someone other than the legislator or those within the Capitol. Furthermore, if a bill is intended to directly impact a particular entity, such as an industry, company, state department/agency, or individual, this should be included in the measure.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
The controversy surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope extends far beyond the mere instrument. On one hand, there is an appeal to utilize one of the world’s greatest locations for studying our universe, with the possible findings having the potential to change the way those on Earth perceive their very being. On the other hand, there is the question of culture, and how those in the present are responsible for protecting their people’s past, while also securing their future. When learning about the wayfinding techniques of those who traversed the Pacific, I am always in awe. The deep connection with our universe and mastery of its nature are incredible, and many argue that modern-day astronomy is an extension of the practices that first brought voyagers to our islands. In just the last few decades, through a global collaboration of scientists, major discoveries have been made, yet what we know does not even begin to scratch the surface. I believe Hawaii should be honored to offer its mountaintops to furthering the knowledge of all of mankind. At the same time, I would support expanding astronomy in our state, providing opportunities for our people to train in related fields and be employed in a sector with incredible potential. I recognize the environmental, cultural, and archaeological concerns, and would proceed in a manner that both respects these aspects while lending our geographical advantages for the benefit of science and the pursuit of knowledge.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Learn more about Jillian Anderson at www.jillianforhawaii.com
Follow on Facebook or Instagram: @jillianforhawaii
Contact her directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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