Name on ballot:
Sam Satoru Kong
State House – District 33
Previous job history:
Business owner, Computer Technician, Air Force
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
My background as a veteran, businessman, and a community organizer have given me the experience and knowledge I need to serve as my community’s Representative.
Having been a local businessman for over twenty years, I understand the unique challenges that small businesses experience, from government regulations, taxes, to employee benefits.
As a US Air Force veteran, I understand the problems and concerns of military members as they are stationed home, particularly since many live in my district of Aiea, which is home to Camp Smith and Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. There is a common bond that is shared amongst veterans that tie us together no matter which branch we have served.
I have also been involved in various community initiatives to better the Aiea school systems, decrease crime, and bridge connections within our community.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
The #1 complaint in my community is speeding and road safety. Working closely with the city, state, and HPD on these issues has driven me to start a “No Speed” campaign. I have been getting the message out to constituents through the use of banners and mailers. In addition, I will continue to work with the City to find ways for better traffic flow.
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?
Cutting taxes and regulations. We should eliminate the income tax for low-income earners. High regulations also discourage business owners and increase prices for consumers so that issue should also be addressed.
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?
At first, saving 16 cents per gallon sounds like a great idea, however, our state is filled with bumpy and damaged roads. The city and state need the funds to fix and maintain our roads.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
I would rather control the impact that the tourists have on our Aina, be it specific impact fees or controlling the number of visitors at various attractions.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
We have been trying to diversify our economy for years, but most promising is the “Broadband Initiative,” especially for our up and coming generation. We also need to invest in STEM programs and careers.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
We need to increase housing, period. Permitting needs to be expedited and simplified. As for the homeless situation, people need to understand the “many faces of homelessness,” so we can act accordingly.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
Hawaii has actually done well in responding to the pandemic. The State just needs to continue what they are already doing, but I would like to change the terminology of “social distancing” into “physical distancing,” to clarify that it is physical distance.
Mental health is also an important issue that needs to be addressed. We need to fund programs that address the mental and psychological health implications Covid-19 has had on our residents.
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?
Education and infrastructure.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
Hawaii is fortunate because we were the first state to legalize abortions in 1970, three years before the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs Wade ruling. The overturn of Roe vs. Wade will not affect abortion rights in Hawaii, however, this may cause a ripple effect so we need to be vigilant and stand firm against the reversal of basic human rights.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
The state should give more autonomy to the schools and their districts to determine and decide what their needs are. Each community is different and thus the educators, principles, superintendents, and even parents should be empowered to take their children’s learning in their own hands. There also needs to be more equal access for all children in the State to resources and funding.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
Encourage the public to be more involved. We need to take advantage of the technology available to us and create an electronic streamline process that can greatly improve public access. I would support legislation to eliminate excessive fees and would consider imposing fines for excessive delays in the release of requested information.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I support the TMT, but we must lessen the footprint by removing the decommissioned telescopes already located there.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
That I am always available, 24/7.
View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.