Name on ballot:
Ryan I Yamane
State House – District 37
No answer submitted
Legislator and Social Worker
Previous job history:
License Social Worker, Clinical Director, Adjunct Lecturer, Teacher, Father Facilitator, Youth Counselor
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
As the current State Representative for District #37, I have worked hard on behalf of the communities of Mililani and Waipio Gentry. My background includes having a Masters in Social Work and a Master’s in Business Administration all from UH. My past Chairmanship experience include the Committees of Tourism and Culture, Health, Transportation, Water, Land, Ocean and Hawaiian Affairs. I am currently the Chair of the Committee of Health, Human Services and Homelessness. My professional and educational background has provided me over 27 years of community leadership and advocacy. I also volunteer with American Red Cross, Medical Reserve Corp, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Services to the Armed Forces, FBI Honolulu Citizens Academy Alumni Association, Knight of Rizal, Order of Saint Lazarus, Masons and Threat Team Hawaii.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
The top priorities for the communities of Mililani and Waipio Gentry continue to be ensuring a positive economy that provides high quality jobs and addresses increased cost of living. This includes supporting cost saving public private partnerships that increase job opportunities and spurring innovation to increase revenue generation. Families in our District continue to be negatively impacted by issues that face our quality of life, we need a strong diverse economy and having high quality public education that protects the safety of all of our students.
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?
Our families have been suffering from increase inflation due to many factors including rising oil prices, reduced manufacturing due to pandemic, increase wages, increase cost of materials and other financial factors. We must work together to bring more local products to our stores, reduce the cost of energy, become more food secure, support recycled construction products and support the development of multiple local export markets. We can support our local families now by providing more tax rebates, reducing unnecessary taxes and providing exemptions for our local residents that can bring down their total taxable income.
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?
This is a possible option that we should take into consideration. This option will temporarily ease the pain at the pump for many of our residents, however people should be aware that this would result in less available fund for highway improvement projects and bridge repairs. Majority of the taxes on gasoline are County taxes so fuel price will drop only slightly, however for many families this makes a difference. I would support a temporary suspension of our gasoline taxes for residents to support our working families.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
I do support discussion on ways to limit a maximum number of daily tourists visiting our Counties at any one time. We need to have balance to not over impact our natural resources, however this discussion needs to include both tourism, business, Kanaka Maoli and resident voices. Balance would include having a robust tourism industry that focuses on quality tourist rather than just on quantity. We need tourism to support our businesses and restaurants, however we need to ensure that the number does not overwhelm our precious resources.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
Yes, Hawaii’s economy can be diversified with other economic business drivers. Government needs to invest in improving our infrastructure in broadband, technology and partner with companies that can bring high value investments. Hawaii could become the technological center of the Pacific offering resources that link broadband cable from the West Coast to Asia. With this technology, we can offer services in healthcare, creative media and oceanic research that will bring outside investments into our economy. Hawaii can also become a leader in alternative energy development, wave energy research and sustainability.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
Affordable housing solutions need strong leadership to focus on getting broad support on where housing should be developed and the discussion of increase density in the urban core. Housing solution need to have a wide spectrum that includes housing for the homeless, programs for those that need rental assistance all the way to supporting financing for home ownership for working families. Hawaii needs to offer a variety of support services to assist families and to work with the Counties to support a focused effort on addressing our homelessness crisis. Programs should not be single source opportunities, but have their participants actively engaged in services to help them learn skills that can translate into the workforce as part of their benefit package.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
As a Medical Reserve volunteer with the Department of Health, I actively participated in vaccination sites, food delivery and contact tracing. These opportunities provided me a first hand look at ways we can support our families while protecting our community. We need a diversified Department of Health that provides our residents quick response and accurate information. During this legislative session, I authored a measure adopted by the Legislature to develop a full scope State Laboratory that could be used by the Department of Health to test our exposure to viruses and toxins quickly and locally. This would eliminate the long wait for results and would allow our State and County health leaders a quick response, hopefully reducing our exposure.
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?
This past year allowed us to address projects and issues that have not been addressed adequately in decades. Moving forward, our priorities should be focused on our education system, maintaining a strong health safety net and continue to improve our aging infrastructure. It is our people that makes Hawaii special, so we should focus on supporting our workers who make up the backbone of our economy. Programs that support our kapuna and our keiki would be top priorities.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
Hawaii’s current law on abortion will remain in place regardless of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Our State has made the bold decision to protect women’s rights to choose and our health system will continue to serve the people of Hawaii. Our healthcare heroes will continue to provide the best quality care while respecting the rights of our wahine.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
Our schools are the center of many of our communities. Schools should be a place where our children develop their professional hopes and dreams. Our State should ensure that each campus is safe and that our school teachers and staffs are paid and treated like professionals. Each campus needs to be fully modernized to support technology and also have various extra curriculum activities and academies to promote the whole student so that can be successful adults. The State needs to continue to invest in our schools since our keiki are truly are future.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
We need transparencies at every level of government, both elected, appointed and civil service. Our communities should be given the assurance that their tax dollars are accounted for, so that they have confidence in their government. Reforms should include more timely and open reporting, more resources designed for investigations and extensive training for all levels of government.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I support the development of the Thirty Meter Telescope. I believe that there can be balance between science and culture. Moving forward requires that proper cultural respect and protocols be offered, this would also include a sincere apology for not including them in past planning. This new telescope will allow us to continue to be the center of space science, however we need to do it in a way that honors the Kanaka Maoli and highlight that they have been experts in looking toward the stars for navigation for hundreds of years. We must honor their sacred aina as we build the science that benefits all of humankind.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Thank you for the privilege to work with you over these many years, it truly has been an honor. In addition to serving you in the Legislature, I continue to serve as a volunteer disaster mental health worker with American Red Cross, trainer with Services to our Armed Forces, a Medical Reserve Corp volunteer with Department of Health, a Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer with Department of Education, a volunteer on the Board of the FBI Honolulu Citizen Academy Alumni Association, a volunteer with Threat Team Hawaii with the Fusion Center, a member of the Knights of Rizal, a member of the Order of Saint Lazarus, a Mason and several Boards that focus on affordable housing and providing academic scholarships.
This year I served as Co-Chair for the Hawaii House of Representatives Special Committee on Red Hill and Co-Chair for the National Conference of State Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
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