Name on ballot:
Michael L. (Mike) Parrish
State Senate – District 9
Previous job history:
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I love people, and I am a good listener. I listen more than I talk because listening is important. Listening is the only way to learn which issues truly matter. I am also an effective advocate with nearly three decades of litigation experience. Effective advocacy is essential to shape policy. I will listen. I will learn what matters to the People in State Senate District 9. I will take what I learn to the State Capitol and advocate on behalf of the People.
While we as a community share many different opinions about politics and policy, there is almost always some common ground. That is exactly why, and how, our country, our State, and our communities have lasted so long in relative harmony. We all share some common ground. I believe that, despite our differences, we each also have some love for one another along with that common ground. Love includes patience and kindness. We can start with patience and kindness and ultimately overcome many of our differences for the common good. We can do that if we have purpose, a common purpose. I believe our common purpose should be to ensure that we gift our children and theirs’ something better than we have. We have it good, compared to those who came before us and made things better for us, but we’ve been headed in the wrong direction. We are not on our way toward better. I am able and willing to help point us in the right direction, and get us moving in that direction, and I’d appreciate your support.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
So far it seems that the most pressing issue is a lack of responsive and responsible government. Our lawmakers spend too much time on pie-in-the-sky policy making. They tend to look toward the horizon rather than what’s directly before their eyes. Their priorities are out of order. I intend to focus on the here and now.
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?
We need a more business friendly environment, particularly for small businesses. The rules and regulations are stifling. There are so many they make heads spin. There are state laws, state administrative rules, county ordinances and rules. And all that in addition to federal rules, regulations, and directives from unaccountable bureaucracies. Then there are the taxes, lots of them. Now there are higher than ever transportation costs. All this means costlier goods and services. We should make it cheaper for People to do business. That will make it cheaper for all of us. There ought to be State House and Senate committees specifically and only purposed with finding and recommending that outdated and unnecessary laws and rules be repealed. Additionally, and quite frankly, the economy is largely driven by federal policy, particularly that of the executive branch. Presently, the executive branch and its policies are disastrous. State lawmakers should lobby their federal counterparts in congress to focus on the here and now and legislate accordingly. Especially now while they’re nearly all from the same party. State lawmakers should be in constant contact with their federal counterparts, informing them of our everyday trials and tribulations, and ensuring that the executive branch gets the message.
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?
No. State taxes are not the cause of our astronomical gas prices. Federal executive policy decisions are the direct cause. The current executive policy decisions are purposely designed to drive fossil fuel energy costs up to promote renewable energy. This is an example of pie-in-the-sky policy making at the federal level. There are comparable measures at the State level that just don’t make practical sense. The biggest problem with this approach is that renewable energy technology just doesn’t cut it, yet. Besides, not everyone can order up solar panels then drop $50k on a sedan. And why are taxpayers paying so people who own electric vehicles can charge those vehicles at no cost to them? It makes no sense to punish people who can’t afford the solar panels and electric vehicles by driving up fuel prices just to promote green energy, then making those people pay for other folks’ electric. That’s flat out mean.
Our State Legislature should also lobby its federal counterparts to reign in this thoughtless energy policy making. Instead, it has chosen local pie-in-the-sky green policy making over practical decisions and action. This needs to change, and fast. The world is not going to end in ten years from climate change, as some would have us believe. It’s good to plan for the future, but we can’t simply abandon the imminent in the meantime. People are suffering for crying out loud, and we’re gonna’ suffer more if we don’t motivate our legislature to get involved in the national discussion. It’s part of the job. I’m motivated.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
I oppose such efforts now because we can’t afford that. Besides, we presently have no substitute for the revenue tourism generates. In the meantime, we need to get the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport up to snuff, it’s unbefitting of a war hero, and an exceptional public servant. Just look at the signage, it’s confusing, not helpful. The new Hawaiian Airlines terminal is nice, but it’s more of an outpost with limited provisions. To try to inhibit tourism or facilitate government profiteering without an immediately available revenue substitute is bad policy. Diversify the economy first, then think about the interfering with interstate commerce, and punishing those who we may need to rely on for solvency pending diversification.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
Yes. We should be promoting Hawai’i as a world class destination for everything from cutting edge mental health treatment facilities to STEM based industries with small carbon footprints. We need to find ways to keep our kids here and give them the first crack at a comfortable life in Hawai’i. In order to do so we need to make it easier and attractive to all kinds of professions and industries to come to Hawai’i. We incentivize through less regulation and stronger infrastructure. Our roads, bridges, electrical grid, and essential services need our immediate attention. There will be no diversification without a solid foundation. We lack a solid foundation. Once we’ve taken care of our own families, friends, and neighbors then we can entice others to follow if it’s good for us.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
First, we need to consider what resources are presently available, and make the most of them. We should find a way to incentivize homeowners to invest in expansion of or upgrades to their homes. Not every homeowner can afford the work necessary to conform to the government’s hard and fast requirements relating to rental properties. if the government incentivized upgrades, then there would be more options available to people who currently can’t find housing. More availability will likely have a stabilizing effect, on cost, maybe even make it a bit cheaper. There are a huge number of individuals on the “list” for Section 8 housing, yet there are not nearly enough homes available. Consequently, the program is not accepting new applicants. And more people are on the streets. New public housing is enticing, but that’s been on the horizon for many legislative sessions. There are potential resources right in front of us.
Next, we need to identify who is homeless by unfortunate circumstances and get them into some form of subsidized housing as soon as practicable. Then we need to overhaul the way we do public mental health. We need to spend money for more good doctors, nurses, and staff, and more space. We should encourage individuals, while lucid, to sign waivers permitting temporary confinement at a mental health facility and administration of medication rather than incarceration when police would otherwise have probable cause to arrest them. This will help a lot of folks who truly want to help themselves.
Then there is another group who do little more than deprive our kupuna and disabled population of the use of many of our public accommodations. The infirm and children lose out the most, as is often the case. They are simply afraid to use those public accommodations. The State and Counties are fortunate that there aren’t dozens of ADA lawsuits because of the governmental neglect in failing to make the facilities available to all. We cannot let this continue. Some people say set aside public land and let those individuals who choose to be homeless camp there at no cost. Provide taxpayer funded water and sewer, and booths for non-profit charities to feed and administer health essentials. Regardless how one feels about that idea, it’s a different idea than those we’ve seen for the past 20-years. I told them that I appreciate the suggestion. Largely because we need to try something else because most of the policies and expenditures have not done enough to abate the surge.
We should consider legislation to fund more law enforcement to pave the way for our elders and children to access the public accommodations to which they are entitled. No doubt many of the people in District 9 have different ideas about what should be done. I’m listening.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
The government should encourage people to be responsible, just like it does for every other disease. There are already vaccines, and there are treatment options for those who have it. There will be more options until it is endemic and/or unprofitable, which can’t be far off. We absolutely need to amend Hawai’i Revised Statutes Section 127A-11(2). Under no circumstances should one individual be vested with the power to make criminal law out of whole cloth. That’s what the governor did.
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?
Infrastructure and law enforcement. Our roads and bridges are a mess. They are falling apart, washed out, or undermined everywhere we turn. Many of our parks and beaches are filthy, overgrown, and populated with homeless. This is unacceptable given the amount of money and resources dedicated to pet projects and pie-in-the-sky initiatives. We are losing law enforcement officers by the dozens, and they are difficult to replace. This is largely a consequence of bad policy. The truth is we need more police, more training for them, and better pay. More law enforcement means more support for citizens who are negatively impacted by the homeless population. There is no good reason not to support law abiding citizens who work hard and pay taxes by providing basic public safety. We will need for them to be very well trained and to be patient and kind. Nearly every taxpayer will benefit from that policy change.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
Nothing. It’s legal, and it will remain legal until people are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that conception creates a “person”. It is incumbent on those who believe it does to convince those who don’t that a person exists at conception. Until then nothing will change. I believe a person exists at conception.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
We need the teachers to get involved. Not the union, the teachers. They are the driving force behind our children’s education. Without them nothing gets better. There are a lot of great teachers in Hawai’i, we all probably know at least one. Our teachers are in the best position to know where the deficiencies are and how they can be corrected. We also know that some of them are are frustrated with the DOE, and afraid to speak up. We absolutely need some better form of merit-based pay. We should also consider an elected school board. Everyone should have a real say in the curriculum. Right now, a chosen few have a say. That’s not good enough for our children. We should also have more charter schools, and subsidies for children to go to private schools. The last thing that we want to do is continue doing the same thing.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
Expand the Office of Information Practices. Enhance punishment for State agencies and individuals who thwart efforts of ordinary citizens to secure government documents. Take away a governor’s authority to simply shut down the Freedom of Information Act; that was reprehensible.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I support the telescope because I sincerely believe the brave individuals who came first would marvel at the technology, and that they would want to learn everything they could about our universe and do good with that knowledge. If doing good is not the purpose of the telescope, then I won’t support it.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I am just a regular guy who cares deeply about the community, and my purpose is to contribute and make things better for all of us. I am humble, and not a self-promoter, which makes politics difficult for me. It means I face an uphill battle, but I am up for the challenge. My beautiful wife and I have seven children between us, and eight grandchildren. We want only the best for them. Four have left because our home has become unaffordable, and in many respects unlivable. We would love to see them come home where they belong. The only way that’s going to happen is if we reverse course, get back to basics, fix what’s broken, then work on the long-term problems. Right now, it’s all backwards and that’s causing a lot of harm and strife. I will work hard to eliminate the harm and strife and set us on a course for success and prosperity.
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