comscore 2022 Election: Nicole Gi | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Nicole Gi

  • Nicole Gi
Name on ballot:

Nicole Gi

Running for:

U.S. House – District II

Political party:

Democrat

Campaign website:

nicolegihawaii.com

Current occupation:

Environmental Consultant

Age:

32

Previous job history:

No answer submitted

Previous elected office, if any:

No answer submitted

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

Former Congresswoman Patsy Mink famously said, “It is easy enough to…be consistently with the majority, but it is more often more important to be ahead of the majority…and stand alone for a while if necessary.” I’ve realized, after many years working for and with the government, as well as volunteering for various political campaigns, that a lot of progress comes down to the personal character of our leaders. I’ve spent the past 10 years of my career fighting plastic pollution, and I’ve watched bills die because of personal fights, bribes, fear of political backlash, and so on. I also spent a lot of time being dismissed for sounding the alarm on the health impacts of plastic pollution. It’s only recently that we’ve seen the headlines confirming that microplastics are in the air, in our lungs, in our bloodstreams – just about everywhere. I think it’s important for elected officials to be willing to have unpopular opinions in the interest of their constituents. At the same time, politicians should proactively seek out a diverse set of perspectives, be open-minded enough to evolve based on new information, and be willing to put the people above pride or power. This is a combination of qualities I can bring to the table.

I also bring perspective, education, and experience valuable to the U.S. Congressional 2nd District. I was raised on Kaua’i and graduated from Kaua’i High School. If elected, I would be the first person ever from Kaua’i to serve in Congress. Growing up on an outer island has enabled me to understand on a personal level the challenges and opportunities for Hawai’i communities that currently have to “fly to Honolulu” for many critical services. I received a full ride to Stanford University, where I completed a B.S. in environmental engineering and M.S. in environmental policy. I also completed my MBA at Mills College. In the past decade, my work in the environmental field has included directly supervising employees, managing budgets, drafting legislation, financial analysis, applying for federal grants, and other experiences useful to a member of the House of Representatives.

What will be your top priority if elected?

My priority will be to Investigate, expose, and hold accountable government corruption, and enact reforms to prevent such corruption in the future – at both the federal and more local level. On the federal level, I will summon corrupt actors from any and all areas of government – regulatory agencies, intelligence agencies, etc. – to be publicly grilled at Congressional committee hearings and charged with any applicable crimes. Nothing should be off the table if we want to restore public trust, whether it’s illegal international support for government coups or gain-of-function research. I will propose legislation to end censorship, require greater public disclosures, criminalize political bribes, and eliminate conflicts of interest, including banning members of Congress and their families from trading individual stocks.

On the more local level, I will not just secure funding for important services; I will also ensure that funding is not embezzled, used for wasteful contracts awarded to out-of-state companies, or stalled by corrupt interests. If elected, I will update the requirements for federal funding of projects to include increased public disclosures of decisions made throughout the project, increased disclosures regarding conflicts of interest of anyone involved in the project, and more stringent restrictions limiting such conflicts of interest.

Inflation has battered the U.S. economy in nearly all sectors. What can Congress do to help bring prices down and to help Americans cope with the rising cost of living?

The first step is to understand the primary drivers of inflation, and assess which of those drivers Congress can influence. In response to the February 2020 recession, the Federal Reserve and Congress pumped trillions of dollars into the financial markets and megacorporations – far more than was provided in stimulus to small organizations and individuals. This was a key driver of inflation, and I would fight to ensure that Congress does not keep bailing out Wall Street.

A key driver of price increases that Congress can influence are corporations themselves. Corporations that have monopoly-levels of control on food processing and other goods are hiding additional price hikes on top of real inflation costs due to supply chain issues. They’ve actually boasted about this in their quarterly stock calls, along with their record-setting profits. Congress should call on the Federal Trade Commission to break up these monopolies and enable competition. I also support Congressman Ro Khanna’s proposals to have the U.S. temporarily stockpile essential goods when there is a dip in the cost of them, and then redistribute them to citizens at a discounted rate through wholesale networks.

Additionally, however you feel about the Russian oil sanctions, they have, by Biden’s own admission, been backfiring, with Russia selling oil to China and India at record prices. The U.S. should lift their sanctions on Russian oil accordingly.

Congress should take nationwide action on affordable housing in addition to potential local measures. There should be a limit on the amount of property any individual or organization can own in the United States (as well as in Hawai’i specifically). Such a limit can be based on preventing the individual or organization from having monopolistic powers. We don’t want to end up with a situation like Lana’i where a single billionaire owns 98% of the land. There are also firms like Blackrock buying up foreclosed housing across the nation, and then raising rent prices on folks who cannot afford to purchase homes of their own.

In addition, I support enacting a temporary prohibition on foreign investors purchasing residences. Canada has recently enacted a 2 year freeze like this to cool down their housing market. As a member of Congress I’d suggest this on a nationwide level, but would also support such a measure specifically for Hawai’i. We can evaluate the impacts of the temporary prohibition and then decide whether to extend it.

What is your position on the Jones Act, which supporters say protects the U.S. shipping industry but opponents say unnecessarily inflates shipping prices and the subsequent costs to Hawaii consumers?

I support the current proposal of the Hawai’i Shippers Council, a nonpartisan organization representing grocery stores and other businesses heavily reliant on shipping. They’ve proposed an amendment to the Jones Act that allows these noncontiguous portions of the United States – Alaska, Hawai’i, and Puerto Rico – to use foreign-built vessels registered under the U.S. flag, while maintaining current Jones Act requirements to employ U.S. crews. Vessels built in South Korea or Japan, for example, would be about four to five times less costly than vessels built in the U.S. – and in the U.S. a single commercial vessel can cost about $1 billion. The reduced costs could be translated into lower costs for local businesses and consumers. The high cost of vessels has also created a barrier to entry of additional competing shipping companies; the proposed amendment to the Jones Act could enable competition while maintaining local jobs and bringing down consumer costs. As a member of Congress, I’d be able to propose this Jones Act amendment.

In general, I support Jones Act amendments that preserve local jobs, reduce the costs of necessities for residents, and support local agriculture.

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

Abortion is a challenging, critical, and emotional issue, with well-meaning people having many different perspectives on it. Our political leaders should act decisively, while at the same time communicating with empathy regarding opposing viewpoints.

In an ideal world, we could all agree on the point at which a fetus becomes a person. The vast majority of Americans, myself included, agree that this happens sometime after conception and before birth. There are understandable disagreements about what the “cutoff” is within that period. My position is that, if you agree that there is at least some portion of a pregnancy in which an abortion does not constitute a loss of a life, then it is best to focus on increased access to pregnancy and abortion-related resources rather than further restrict the legal “cutoff” stage for abortion. It’s not like people want to wait until they’re well into their pregnancy to get an abortion. Granted, there is time taken to make the decision, but many abortions are delayed because the mom does not realize earlier that she’s pregnant, lacks information about how to get an abortion, lacks transportation, lacks insurance coverage, and/or needs to save up to afford an abortion. Here on Kaua’i, we don’t even have an abortion clinic on-island, as is the case with the rest of the outer islands besides Maui. If you want to reduce what is commonly referred to as “late-term” abortions, then I believe you should make it easier to get an abortion earlier.

I also support this approach because I believe that an abortion should be allowed at any time if the mom’s life is in danger. Moms have the right to decide to put their lives first. I also don’t think the government should define a threshold for the risk to the mom’s life. Say you’re told that attempting to give birth has a 20% chance of killing you, and the baby only has a 50% chance of surviving. Should the government have the right to tell you what to do? I don’t think anyone has the right to make that sort of heartbreaking decision for the mom.

For these reasons, I support national legislation passing Roe v. Wade into law, which is consistent with current law in Hawai’i. Democrats easily had the votes in Congress to do this in 1977-80, ’93-’95, and ’09-’11, yet the national Democratic leadership failed to act, including the current Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Congress can and should still pass Roe v. Wade legislation now by eliminating the Senate filibuster rules that could currently prevent its passage. At a bare minimum, if national Democratic leadership comes up with an excuse to not pass Roe v. Wade, they should at least pass some level of abortion protections that receives bipartisan support. Congress can and should also pass legislation requiring health insurance and Medicaid to fully cover costs for contraception, pregnancy tests (at least 12 per year), pregnancy, and abortion. Congress should also provide additional federal funding for abortion and adoption access, and require that all abortions be reported – however, the individuals seeking abortions should be anonymized in the reports.

I’ll have to agree to disagree with people who believe that a fetus becomes a person at the time of conception and/or who believe that birth control is a sin. However, even in this situation, I would work with those constituents to provide additional resources for moms and their families, such as guaranteeing paid parental leave.

Regardless of the Roe v. Wade decision, we should have term limits for Supreme Court justices and members of Congress to increase accountability to the people. If elected, I would immediately propose legislation regarding this. Furthermore, the Supreme Court justices who lied under oath regarding their intent to overturn Roe v. Wade should be impeached, as lying under oath is an impeachable offense. We cannot set a precedent that allows justices to lie without being held accountable.

Now that Roe vs. Wade has been overturned, some advocates say other civil liberties previously upheld by the Supreme Court will be vulnerable, including same-sex marriage. Do you agree and what, if anything, should Congress do in response?

We’ve already seen in Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion on the ruling that case law on same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships, and contraception may be revisited. Congress should proactively pass these rights into law. In addition, Congress should also proactively establish data privacy rights for citizens – which should have happened regardless of Roe v. Wade, given the current extensive overreach of surveillance of private activity. Congress should pass a national privacy law that limits how private businesses and nonprofits collect and share personal information.

What should Congress do to reduce gun violence and mass shootings in America?

I support establishing universal background checks, and requiring the background check to be completed before the gun is sold. I also support increased safety training requirements. I was glad to see in the recent Congressional legislation that there was also funding for mental health services and the closing of the blocking of gun sales to those convicted of domestic abuse. Violence, including gun violence, can furthermore be broadly reduced with a reallocation of our military spending – which far exceeds the spending of other nations – to poverty reduction measures. I also support reforming police departments, in collaboration with their employees, to reduce preventable police shootings.

What is the best strategy to break through the political gridlock in Congress?

In addition to the corruption reforms I’ve previously mentioned, we need to reform our election system so that we elect leaders more accountable to the people’s interests. There are many reforms that should be enacted, a few of which are transitioning to a presidential popular vote, ranked choice voting, lowering thresholds for participation and financing for third parties and nonpartisan candidates, implementing a paper ballot system, implementing a robust election auditing system, and establishing ballot chains of custody.

What specific policies should Congress enact that could help mitigate the affects of sea-level rise and climate change?

We should focus on approaches that preserve our natural resources overall and create jobs, such as the Trillion Tree planting initiative, rejuvenating our soil, and reducing the use of plastic (which is made of petroleum). We can implement a federal jobs guarantee, as FDR did, to employ people in these efforts. I recommend watching the documentary “Kiss the Ground” for an overview of how rejuvenating our soil stores carbon. These are low-tech strategies that provide immediate benefits. Additionally, decentralized forms of renewable energy such as rooftop solar should be prioritized, as they are beneficial for emergency preparedness and less vulnerable to potential attacks on utility grids. Rooftop wind power is also utilized in Europe and should be deployed here. I strongly oppose any legislation requiring a certain percentage of “renewable energy” to come from burning wood or other materials. We should also remember that the world’s biggest polluter is the United States military, and ending foreign wars is a major form of environmental protection.
Throughout my career, I’ve completed complex greenhouse gas emissions calculations. The U.S. must steer away from approaches that create financial markets for natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions. Such markets are not necessary to protect the environment, and will be gamed by those who control and understand them.

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

I believe that localizing and decentralizing power is the most important strategy for empowering the community, from breaking up Big Tech to offering local currency options. I believe this applies to government as well. The government can provide valuable services to the people; however, the U.S. has historically used declarations of emergencies to maintain “emergency powers” permanently, as we saw with the Patriot Act after 9/11. I have been especially alarmed by the overreach of powers during COVID, and the lack of a transparent, accountable process to re-evaluate and course correct measures throughout the declared emergency. Those who do not learn from – and acknowledge – history are bound to repeat it, and I will prioritize putting policies in place to protect our individual rights.


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