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2022 Election: Lorraine Rodero Inouye

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  • Lorraine R Inouye
Name on ballot:

Lorraine Rodero Inouye

Running for:

State Senate – District 1

Political party:


Campaign website:

Current occupation:

State Senator District 4 Hawai’i Island



Previous job history:

Senator-Hawai’i Senate District 1 – 1998-2008; Mayor- Hawai’i County 1990-1992; County Councilmember-Hawai’i County 1984-1990

Previous elected office, if any:

Councilperson, Mayor, Senator- Hawai’i Island

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I have been an elected official for Hawaii County for 26 years, as a Councilmember, Mayor and Senator. I am currently the Senator for District 4 from 2014-present. I serve in the Senate as the Chair of the Water and Land Committee, Vice Chair of the Transportation Committee, member of the Ways and Means Committee. I have been the Chair of the Transportation Committee and member of the Ways and Means Committee from 2015-2020. Having served as Mayor of Hawai’i County I am familiar with the needs of its residents.

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

Economic issues and jobs, in a very recent poll I’ve seen, reducing crime and drugs were its highest priorities; followed by affordable housing, better health care access, more public school and UH Hilo funding.
In Senate District 1, primarily Hilo and the East Side of the Island, businesses, government,
and the University of Hawai’i Hilo and the Hawaii Community College Systems are the economic engine. We need to keep this climate strong and supportive. Supporting the Mauna Kea 30-meter telescope and Astronomy as a whole is my priority, an industry that provides clean jobs, research and STEM education at UHHILO.

The crime and drugs are very concerning for our residents. I will continue to support our local Police Department, increasing penalties to existing laws in statute as recommended by the law enforcement agencies, and including any new laws that’s before us in the Legislature.

This past Legislature we have provided $300 million dollars for affordable housing projects to developers. My hope is that there are developers interested in seeking these funds and loan programs. I personally have been talking to several developers to encourage them to seek information from HHFDC, the agency responsible.

With the shortage of doctors in Hawai’i Island, we’ve seen local clinics expending services for health care access. I am proud to say that The Bay Clinic expended it’s outreach to several communities on Island, including the new addition on the West Side. During this COVID pandemic, private Urgent Care offices has opened in addition to the Emergency room at Hilo Medical Center. I applaud these businesses and will continue to support funding
HMC in projects that’s been ongoing in the last several years and the services provided.

This past Legislature as well, our public schools have been blessed with much financial support for new schools, expansions, increase in the workforce throughout the state. As a
member of the Ways and Means Committee in the Senate, I am happy to be a part of the decision-making in providing necessary resources that’s been long overdue. And I must add additional resources have been provided to our University system, including both campuses in District 1.

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’ve been a big supporter of addressing the GE tax exemption on food and prescription drugs. My hope is to work on legislation to do that and it’s time for discussion on this issue that’s been talked about for many years. Our residents need help as this rising inflation is affecting all consumer products in transportation costs as well.

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?

As the former chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and now the Vice chair, I do know that the gas tax is one of high income base for the DOT highway system to continue fixing our highways, and most important, have a reserve to comply for federal matching funding. As we’ve seen the dwindled income of this gas tax, due to the state’s and our country’s mission to transition from gas automobiles to electric vehicles, suspending our 16 cents per gallon gas tax will have a great impact as mentioned and any unintended consequences.
However, reducing the amount from 16 cents is something that discussion should be considered and if I’m elected I’d consider introducing legislation for discussion in the 2023

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

This is an interesting question as a former hotelier of 20 years before entering the political arena. I’ve been very supportive of the visitor industry for many years.
Though the arguments, as I hear and read of supportive limit of the visitors, mainly affecting communities on Oahu and Maui, some on Kauai, I have not heard much of this impact affecting the Big Island.
It’ll be very difficult to limit visitors to Hawaii. The concern I have is that Climate Change is upon us, and depending on the affects of the weather, we may see fewer travelers in the near future.

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

Tourism is here to stay, however we can diversify the economy by strengthening and be more supportive of our agriculture industry, of astronomy, be fully supportive of our University System, lower the maritime transportation costs within the islands, fully support the cottage industry and much more.

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

Encourage and assist the counties to lower the costs of their permitting system. Continue financing the State’s housing agencies to their loan programs and allowing use of state lands by developers for affordable rental projects.
The legislature has in the past created funding for homeless projects and will continue to do so, however some of the counties have not taken advantage of these funds. My hope, if elected to the return of this district, I will encourage the counties to participate in a partnership to develop more housing to deal with the homeless.

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

I have been and continue my announcements encouraging our residents to mask up. However there are many who disagree that there is a pandemic and refuse to be protected.
It’s a choice people have whether they remain protective or not. I believe continued funding our Department of Health in whatever means necessary communicating their message to the general public including visitors as well.

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?

Continiue funding our State Hospitals, our public schools and the University system, the Offices of aging in all the counties to care for our kupuna.

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

We are fortunate that our Constitution recognized that our state and five other states in the country are protected by the recent decision of the U S Supreme Court. It has no affect in Hawai’i and there’s no action required.

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

Continue providing necessary resources and funding and support the directions of the Boards.

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

Reform some of the actions of both Legislative bodies rules governing hearing process.
However, be mindful that any drastic changes that may extend the work performance, that the Legislature is legaly bound in statute of 90 days in office.

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

I have supported the Astronomy Industry and the Telescopes since it started on Maunakea.
I do support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. As mentioned earlier in this questionnaire, the residents of District 1 raise the issue of the economy and jobs as top priority of concerns.
Though the telescope has not been built, they have contributed millions of dollars to our charter schools, Imiloa, and scholarships to our students.
The Astronomy Industry is welcomed by a very large majority of Big Islanders of polls I’ve seen.
It’ll provide much needed employment for the construction industry as well as more jobs for our people.

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

My Theme is Leadership. Experience. Trust. I was born and raised in a sugar plantation outside of Hilo, and I continue to be guided by my parents’ mantra (my dad was an immigrant from the Philippines) as I grew up with 8 brothers and sisters, “Work hard, be honest and help one another.”

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