Name on ballot:
Nathan H. Takeuchi
State House – District 35
Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi
Aide to the Board of Trustees, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Previous job history:
Office Manager, State House of Representatives
Legislative Committee Clerk, State House of Representatives
Legislative Aide, State House of Representatives
Children & Families Program Coordinator, Mōʻiliʻili Community Center
Elections Specialist, State of Hawaii, Office of Elections
Sales Associate, Duty Free Shoppers in Waikiki
Previous elected office, if any:
Pearl City Neighborhood Board – served as Board Secretary, Vice-Chair of Legislative Committee and Publicity Committee.
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa with a Bachelor’s degree in U.S. History and a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA). My MPA program instilled in me the values of being inclusive, respecting traditions, and being culturally sensitive. I will always welcome everyone’s input on issues being considered by the legislature and I will gladly listen to any suggestions on how to solve a problem.
I have worked a total of eight legislative sessions in the State House of Representatives, starting out as a University of Hawai’i intern for then-Representative David Ige, then working my way up to a Legislative Aide, a Committee Clerk, and finally an Office Manager for Representative Roy Takumi while he represented Pearl City and Waipahu, so I’m familiar with the current district. Rep. Takumi essentially gave me on-the-job training, and I believe that this will allow me to hit the ground running.
I truly enjoy helping constituents with their concerns and resolving their issues. Solutions could range from a simple fix like getting them the right contact information or it could go all the way up to following-up on a serious complaint. I believe that this experience is especially crucial now, with so many families needing assistance to connect with government resources.
I also have years of volunteer experience within the district. I served for six years on the Pearl City Neighborhood Board to learn more about the issues directly affecting my neighbors. I also served on the Pearl City Community Association’s Board of Directors for three years and assisted them with major events. During this time, I was able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with many great community leaders who inspired me with their lifelong dedication, leadership, and genuine love for the community. They set a high standard for me, and I am always striving to live up to their example of what it means to serve the community.
I’m currently working for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and over the past 19-years, I’ve been thoroughly immersed in Native Hawaiian issues. I’ve staffed countless meetings of the Board of Trustees, visited Native Hawaiian communities throughout the islands, and assisted many beneficiaries who’ve contacted our office with their questions and concerns. I’ve also worked on important projects such as securing funds to renovate Lunalilo Homes, exempting Kuleana Lands from property taxes, and I also coordinated a national conference that was sponsored by OHA. If elected, I will bring this experience with me to the state legislature.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
After walking door-to-door throughout the district, the number one concern that was brought up is crime. There has been an increase in crime at a time when HPD has hundreds of officer vacancies. This limits their ability to handle calls for service and conduct special enforcement to address serious crimes harming our community.
I will strongly support legislation that offers financial incentives to assist the HPD with recruitment. For example, we can consider higher education grants for students pursuing a career in law enforcement; signing bonuses for first-time law enforcement officers; and a student loan forgiveness program for officers.
We should also consider creating a grant program to reimburse law enforcement agencies for the cost of recruitment and retention incentives they may offer and consider recruiting from retired law enforcement officers by allowing them to work again without having their pensions penalized.
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?
The high cost of living is an issue that came up frequently while I was walking the district. One way that we can immediately assist Hawaii residents that are struggling is to eliminate the General Excise Tax on food. This would reduce the cost of groceries by 4% statewide and 4.5% on Oahu.
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?
Reducing or suspending the state’s gas tax, even temporarily, would definitely help working families with long commutes during this time of high gas prices.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
I support “sustainable tourism” that considers the economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism on our communities. We need to try and maximize the social and economic benefits of the tourism industry while respecting, preserving, and enhancing Hawaii’s natural, cultural, and community assets. We should also encourage visitors to explore Hawaii in a way that is respectful of the Native Hawaiian culture and local residents.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
It is imperative that we diversify our economy and build new, billion-dollar industries that will provide good jobs and, most importantly, the tax revenues we need to sustain our state and increase our opportunities. I believe a promising industry is Creative Media or Film. It doesn’t pollute, it helps tourism by showing-off Hawai’i’s beauty, and it will provide young people with jobs in creative fields. This new industry would only be limited by our own creativity, which I believe it is an underutilized resource. We should take advantage of improving technology that are dropping the barriers that prevented previous generations from expressing themselves to the world. I can see the Academy for Creative Media at UH West Oahu becoming a hub for this new billion-dollar industry. It’s going to require state support to grow, but it’s an investment for the future.
Another promising industry is agriculture. We need to increase local food production. We currently import more than 80% of our food and I’d like to change that by increasing the amount of lands available for farming and making start-up loans available to small farms. It’s something we should invest in and would provide food security and fresher, healthier produce for the state.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
Possible solutions include creating a state-subsidized loan program for first-time home buyers and essential workers and providing financial education and assistance to help navigate the home buying process.
We could also use vacant state lands to build affordable homes and rentals with federal, state, and private partnerships.
Finally, we could continue to increase the rental housing revolving fund, increase the low-income housing tax credit, and create new deductions and incentives for long-term rentals to low- and middle-income families.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
I would continue to seek Federal funding and State grants to help non-profits such as the Hawaii Food Bank to help with those most severely impacted by COVID-19. I would also make sure that our communities are informed about all the State and County programs that are available to help. Another area I would look at are ways we could protect homeowners, renters, and property owners from foreclosures and evictions by passing rental and mortgage assistance or no-interest loans.
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?
My top priority would be to adequately fund public education. We need to do something about the teacher shortage of over a thousand teachers each year. Also, the average teacher pay in the state is low compared to the rest of the country.
My other spending priorities would include lowering our high cost of living and increasing the availability of affordable housing.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
The State must make sure that women in Hawaii will continue to have access to the healthcare they need. Although Hawaii law already protects the right of women to make their own deeply personal reproductive health decisions, including the right to seek abortion care, the State needs to ensure that women retain control over their own reproductive choices.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
As with any profession, it is difficult to do an effective and efficient job without adequate supplies and up-to-date technology. The State’s current tax revenues are not able to pay for everything the public demands and therefore I believe the State needs to form more partnerships and collaborations between that public, private, and non-profits sectors. By collaborating, the different sectors will be able to mutually enhance each other by pooling limited resources, sharing useful information, and coordinating similar activities.
I also believe that teachers will be able to provide a higher quality of education to their students with smaller class sizes. It would also allow for more social distancing during a future pandemic.
Finally, I fully support ongoing professional development paid for by the DOE. It is essential to ensure the quality of our teachers.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
The Legislature and all public boards should be required to archive recordings of their meetings.
To reform lobbying, we should require lawmakers to keep a log of visits by lobbyists or require lobbying organizations to disclose a list of bills that they support or oppose.
We should also require lawmakers disclose the backers of bills they introduced “by request.”
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I believe the TMT presents many exciting possibilities for scientific, educational, economic, and cultural advancement of everyone in the state, especially our future generations.
However, we must also ensure that Mauna Kea is properly managed and cared for sustainably. The State must fulfill its obligations to preserve and protect the environment of Mauna Kea.
I would also like to see the State do more to bring all sides together and seek common ground.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I grew up in Pearl City and I graduated from Pearl City High School, Class of ’89, and that’s where I met my wife, Renee, and we’ve been together for 35 years. We’re lucky enough to own a home in the district and I feel blessed that I can raise my son, Ryan, in my hometown. He’s going to be a sophomore at Pearl City High School, and he’ll be graduating with the Class of 2025.
I have a lot of Aloha for the communities in the district and I hope that I will have the opportunity to show my gratitude for the decades of kindness and support the community has given to me and my family. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve District 35 in the State House of Representatives.
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