Name on ballot:
Kapono Aluli Souza
State Senate – District 13
KS Medical Hawaii + Lonowellness.com
Previous job history:
Educator, Project Manager, Principal, Small Business Owner, Realtor
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I meet all requirements to run for office in Hawaii and am a registered voter in my District of
Nu‘uanu, Pu‘unui, Pauoa, Puowaina, Pacific Heights, Palama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
Social and economic insecurity is at the center of the local conversation.
With a rapidly approaching recession, focus on Income, Inflation, health, housing, and well-being are top of mind to our electorate. Heavy constraints are already imposed on our retired, our workforce, small businesses and teachers. Addressing these challenges will require collective action from all stakeholders. Ideas worth exploring are proper universal health care, counseling, universal basic income, 4-day work week, high quality education and employment in new technologies. We also need to address industries which adversely impact Hawaiiʻs people and environment. Obligatory contributions from these industries can help ease negative effects on our communities. Elected officials will need to respond quickly, efficiently and in alignment with Hawaii’s organizing body politic.
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?
All of Hawaiiʻs major social groups from our families and professional workforce to retirees/kupuna, students and working poor are all being squeezed with no relief. Inflated costs for rent, energy, and food has left our residents with little room to save for the future. Current and future generations will see no social security, pensions, or retirement which puts all of us on perilous ground.
The State needs to bring its political body to order and improve the conditions of its residents social and economic well-being. Residents need to vote in new, more diverse voices to government which can help to change the status quo. Extend renters credit to residents offset by non-resident fees and look at alternatives to Hawaiʻiʻs current supply chain regime. Energy independence at the resident level including energy storage, collection and distribution is achievable in the short term.
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?
We can lower this energy tax on Hawaii residents by shifting a surcharge to the U.S. military, and related industries. This helps contribute to the community where they are residing. We can also levy a fuel surcharge to every registered rental car, plane, or cruise ship.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
Hawaiʻi runs the risk of being “loved to death”. We need to explore capacity limits for non-residents while also enabling visitors to contribute to Hawaiʻiʻs communities and sensitive environments. Impact fees from all non-residents visiting Hawaii could come from hotel room, rental car, destination and carbon contributions.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
The visitor economy is largely controlled by large national and multi-national corporations. This leaves little if any profit margins for our hospitality workforce and small local businesses. Entrepreneurial enterprises born and bred by Hawaiʻi residents and in alignment with Hawaiiʻs ecology will stimulate more diversity, creativity, and innovation. We need to support Hawaiiʻs young professionals, home-based cottage industries, and curated edu/eco experiences which increases value for both the visitor and residents. The state, city and county can support these efforts by amending laws, sunsetting old or inefficient ordinances, and partnering with residents and locally owned businesses.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
Homeless and houseless populations mirror our social and economic health as a society and can be directly connected to the well-being of our state. Direct access to mental health support for all citizens including our most vulnerable should be available. Staff hospitals and clinics with comprehensive mediation, restoration, and conflict resolution programs that emphasize indigenous healing approaches. Explore more efficient utilization of existing housing infrastructure. Collaborate and incentivize public and private sectors to upgrade dormant commercial and residential space for affordable housing for working adults.
Living in Hawaii is a privilege. The State should look closely at the unhealthy dynamic in land and home buying. Establish a residency criteria prior to purchasing fee-simple property in Hawaii. Insert market controls that curb disproportionate sale prices. Demand fair and appropriate taxes, fees, and tariffs for out of state buyers, LLC’s, absentee homeowners, investors, speculators, and luxury developers. Raise single family home exemptions to $500,000. Renterʻs Credits for working adults and students can help ease personal and family housing budgets. Establish rent control in appropriate areas. Make tax credits available for residents who participate 100 hrs. or more in civic engagement.
Improved relationships with local enforcement, watch guard, and non-profits in our communities, can enhance our fortify our public spaces and neighborhoods.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that fundamentally changed our worldview on health and well-being. We all get sick from time-to-time and that is normal. Sensible preventative measures are helpful and greatly reduce spread and prioritize safety. Our personal choices should reflect back to us how we choose to interact with those around us and put them first. We are fortunate to have in place existing options available to bring us back to health quickly but we should also adopt a position of how can I take ownership and remain as healthy and able bodied as possible by practicing safety first. Proper Sanitation, rest, good nutrition, exercise, and mental health are excellent preventative measures and have a major positive impact on our bodies first line of defense.
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?
Hawaii must add two more zeroes to the surplus. Social and economic support for building wealth amongst families, residents and local businesses is a good start. Plant industrial wealth crops like hemp, bamboo and biomass. We should focus on upgrading existing infrastructure to green projects: especially on school campuses (e.g. super teaching) as well as energy independence projects, wealth crops for ag farmers, fisheries, families, food forests and hubs.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
Hawaii should be a refuge for any and all who need to feel safe. We should continue to protect each otherʻs rights our own bodies without government infringement. We must lead and set the bar when it comes to inclusion and choice as it is in alignment with our collective understanding of what ALOHA is.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
The Governor should review this department and structurally reorganize. Our current education model is a product of residual inequity. A smart approach would be to fully indigenize our curriculum and merge it with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mentorship. Strengthen global education exchanges. Every Hawaii student should be eligible to study abroad provided they apply their learning to enhancing Hawaii economy, ecology, and energy independence. Every student in Hawaii should be bi-lingual. ʻOlelo Hawaii should be as ubiquitous and common as the English language. When we understand language, we understand culture and are enriched with innovative perspectives. Partner with legacy institutions to fast track upgrading aging DOE infrastructure into super teaching class rooms. We can achieve our aims to establish a world-class educational system when all areas of learning are integrated within land, air, food, water and ocean. Teachers should earn six figures.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
Discontinue “gut and replace”.
Enforce sunshine laws. Itemize pay checks to show exactly where State taxpayer dollars are actually going and what percentage is allocated.
Hawaii should move to an open primary where voters can vote for candidates from any party and the top 2-3 face off in the general election, regardless of party. This would give alternative parties more of a chance to compete in the marketplace of ideas and proposals. (California adopted this model)
HI Democrats, for their own sake, should partner with a party with similar core values and principles in order to sharpen, collaborate, innovate, and refine ideas for maximum community impact. The Democrat-Republican option is never going to provide that here. A Democrat-Green partnership can.
Hawai’i should move to a unicameral legislature (EITHER STATE HOUSE OR STATE SENATE BUT NOT BOTH). There is no reason to add the extra layer of bureaucracy and inefficiencies that come with a bi-cameral legislature (HOUSE AND SENATE). This will also reduce voter fatigue and simplify and enhance representational democracy with a single point of representation in each district.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
Consider the origin. Add Kahoolawe, Makua, TMT, Red Hill, and Pohakuloa to a long list of unresolved issues regarding Hawaiian lands and rights of stewardship. Unfortunately for TMT, bad timing and the inability of International, Federal, State, and UH stakeholders to reconcile the deeper issues surrounding contested lands and resources. Only the Hawaiian people should have the agency to decide what to do with Mauna Kea and any and all structures, activities, or access to it.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Promote the vote. Only we have the ability to organize our small democracy in the middle of the Pacific in a way that truly mirrors who we are and how we choose to live. If there’s one thing we all understand since Covid, its that our individual well-being is connected to our collective well-being. We understand more that ever the concept of how our well-being is tied to the land, tied to food, to supply chains, to the well-being of our community and the people around us. These things are not separate from the idea of Aloha ʻĀina which is very much connected to nurturing our relationship with everything around us. There is an innate understanding that we are only as wealthy as our land, air, water, and ocean is abundant, productive, and contaminant free. When we are collectively in agreement then the answers we need become self-evident.
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