comscore 2022 Election: Terez Amato (T.Amato) | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2022 Election: Terez Amato (T.Amato)

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  • Terez Amato
Name on ballot:

Terez Amato (T.Amato)

Running for:

State House – District 11

Political party:

Democratic Party

Campaign website: AND

Current occupation:

Advocate working for the people of Hawai’i, full time candidate



Previous job history:

Bookkeeper, Small business owner, Mother of 4, Sierra Club (Board Member, Treasurer), Maui Farmers Union (member), Surfrider foundation (volunteer), Maui Film Festival (volunteer), Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project (volunteer), Auwahi Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership (volunteer), Friends of Haleakalā (volunteer), West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership (volunteer).

Previous elected office, if any:

No answer submitted

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I am Terez Amato (T.Amato). I am #WorkingForThePeople not for corporations or lobbyists.

I am proud to be endorsed by the outstanding incumbent Representative Tina Wildberger to continue her excellent work, also by Americans for Democratic Action Hawai’i, Our Revolution Hawai’i , HSTA Teachers Union, Patsy Mink pro choice PAC, Doctors, Dentists and many more.

As a single mother of 4 I have an intimate understanding of the challenges facing Hawaii’s working families. My priority is to advocate for the workers and people of Maui and to ensure their needs are put first. Maui deserves a Representative who is working for the people, not for corporations or lobbyists.

I believe in campaign finance reform and transparency. We should all be, and I am, greatly disturbed by the tradition of ‘legal bribery’ of politicians as well as the illegal bribery.

My loyalty is to the people who elect me and to their well being, not to large corporations or their lobbyists. I will never take a penny from any corporation or lobbyist. Maui deserves a State representative who is #WorkingForThePeople, not corporations.

What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?

The Cost of living is exploding, there are multiple components I will address:

We have a serious Housing Crisis: What I am proposing here is 20x the size of what the county council members have proposed, but without affecting your taxes:

I’ll support executive action to build truly affordable housing on free state land that is not in environmentally or culturally sensitive areas. I’ll submit legislation to use state funds to build infrastructure and housing with union labor and allocate homes for teachers and other civil servants. This will make good jobs and help all of society.

A ‘Living Wage’ is needed: A minimum wage is not sufficient. People should be able to afford their basic needs on 40 hours a week: I support more than just higher wages over a 6 year period as passed in this year’s House bill 2510. We must add to that good start, a LIVING wage geared to the cost of living index.

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?

See my real solution above on drastically increasing truly affordable housing in perpetuity.

Also the regressive GE tax most burdens those who have the least. I propose suspending the GE tax and additional outer island gas tax during this period of high inflation, and permanently repealing the general excise tax on necessities like groceries, prescription medication and medical procedures. This would immediately put cash back in people’s pockets.

Additionally, many households earn too much for public healthcare assistance, this must be changed: We must provide for an emergency safety net and necessities like housing and health care simultaneously.

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?

Yes. I propose temporarily suspending the gas tax during this period of high inflation for 180 days. This would immediately put cash back in people’s pockets. We can reevaluate after we see future economic status indicators.

We should also immediately consider a state windfall profits tax for fuel companies and prevention of stock buyback using fuel company profits. It is wrong to profit on the backs of our people when they are hurting most.

Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.

We need a tourism cap: I favor limiting tourism to each island’s carrying capacity within realistic limits. We should focus on quality tourism limiting arrivals to a community’s carrying capacity for lodging, transportation and resources, while – and this is critical – maintaining current job levels. We can begin this by implementing a reservation system for out of state tourists at common attractions.

Our environment IS our economy. Let’s cap tourism to sustain our jobs, not kill the golden goose.

Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?

To diversify we must invest in providing vocational training and also free college education for anyone who gets educated here then chooses to remain in Hawai’i working in that field for a 4 year minimum following graduation. This will increase opportunities to develop other industries and have people go into other areas besides tourism as well as fill current shortages including teaching, healthcare and other fields.

30 states have free community college. It is time to do that and even more for our people. Additionally I support statewide micro-credentialing, badging, and licensing efforts for apprenticeships. In Silicon valley credentialing and certification is the new wave. It can help in Hawai’i as well.

What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?

We have a serious housing crisis: The fact that such a small amount of land is available for housing is one of the largest cost drivers creating the housing crisis. I support initiatives to use state land to build affordable housing using union workers. I’ll support Executive branch action freeing up state land that is not in environmentally or culturally sensitive areas.

This will generate housing at half the cost as the land is free. I’ll submit legislation to use state funds to build that housing and allocate a dedicated percentage of it for teachers, healthcare workers and other civil servants. This is more than just talk: It will help address our housing crisis, create good jobs and help people.

For the houseless, we should also invest 5 times the current level in proven small housing projects for the houseless, similar to Kau Hale in Kalaeloa.

State and county legislators rarely speak. I’ll have monthly meetings with my county counterparts, so we can work as a team on housing AND other critical issues like tax reform so giant corporations pay their fair share, our environment, jobs, health care access (especially for women considering Roe) and Solar power.

What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?

We need to follow CDC guidelines. It is important to understand the balance between small business and citizen economic needs and health. All are important.

We must be proactive: I will support measures for germicidal lamps and air filtration in public offices. We need consistent funding not delayed reactionary funding pulses. For example, we must provide consistent support for DOH efforts like free testing even when federal funds disappear.

And this is critical: We must have expert epidemiologists, experts on aerosols physics and other real scientists guide our policies using real science.

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 spending priorities include increasing funding for teachers, medical and general workforce development (free college), developing infrastructure for housing on free state land that is not environmentally or culturally sensitive, and a major solar power initiative increasing tax breaks for owners including a pass through credit for renters as well as zero interest loans for solar and chargers at private and public sites. We must increase access to healthcare.

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

Let me be clear: Healthcare is a Human Right. I will always vigorously defend any person’s right to choose. I oppose ALL attempts to restrict reproductive rights through legislation, regulation or constitutional amendment. We must immediately take 4 concrete steps:

1) Codify Roe with a ⅔ vote in each house for 2 years to make a constitutional amendment and also a ballot issue if needed.

2)Increase healthcare access to all Islands as abortions are currently only available on Maui and Oahu. We need more Nurses and Dr.s I have a plan for increasing the work force and funding.

3)Federal funding and health insurance may be cut. We must ‘Fill The Gap’ in funding and codify requirements that health insurance provide abortion health care in Hawai’i.

4)We must make Hawaii a safe haven for women from anywhere and health care providers without fear of cross state prosecution.

We are not safe, federals laws are uncertain. We must strengthen HI state law. We have a moral responsibility to protect women and healthcare givers. Hawai’i must be a leader. I am proud to be endorsed by the pro-choice Patsy Mink PAC.

What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?

There is no higher priority than the health and well being of our people. Keiki are our family and future, and teachers mold, protect and ensure that future. Education funding is inadequate. My priorities are to:
Increase funding for Public education and facilities
We should allocate funding to train and retain more teachers and specialists thus improving working conditions while reducing workload.
Without delay we must Increase salaries, benefits and resources for teachers.

This does not require raising residents taxes. I strongly support establishing additional dedicated funding sources for public education such as levying a surcharge on out of state investment properties, dedicating a fraction of the transient accommodation tax to improving education and taxing real estate investments like hotels at actual use rate and making a dedicated fraction of that justified increase available to education.

Retaining teachers requires lower workload, larger teaching workforce and higher pay with better family and other benefits. I shall sponsor and support bills that; provide funds for salary increases, create a refundable tax credit for teachers, and make sure school supplies are paid for out of taxes not out of teacher salaries. I’ll support funding additional teaching positions to reduce workload and increase the new teacher workforce by providing free public college to those who commit to staying in Hawai’i as a public school teacher for a period of 4 years after their certification.

As a society must take care of those that ensure a good future for our children. About this there can be no argument.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?

Transparency is CRITICAL!
I’ll put live cameras in my own office for transparency! No more backroom deals. No conflicts of interest. Sunshine laws must apply to all legislators.

Campaign spending organizational reports should be more frequent to ensure transparency. All committee meetings should be public. We must allow public testimony by zoom and after 9-5 working hours. I propose funding for electronic polling (my Technology to Advance Democracy initiative) so that people in each district can weigh in on each discussion.

I will sponsor ‘open issue night’ at my office and by zoom so that people can engage on the issues and let their feelings be known. After all, this is not about my opinions; representing people is my job. I am #WorkingForThePeople.

Accountability will come when people vote for elected leaders who are actually serving their interests, not corporations. I am hopeful that others will follow my lead and vow as I have for the last decade:

I will never take a penny from any corporation or lobbyist. I am #WorkingForThePeople.

Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?

I support science and education. I deeply respect the Hawai’ians and mutual respect is imperative in an enlightened advanced society. While there can be no doubt of the potential gains to science with the addition of a new cutting edge telescope, I hesitate to support any effort that criminalized elderly and disabled kupuna for merely exercising their first amendment rights.

I am pro-science. The best site in the world for Astronomy should be used, but not while the worst conduct is shown by the stakeholders. I will need to poll my constituents, because no matter how I feel about this divisive issue personally, I am bound to represent the wishes of those who elect me.

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

The supreme court has anointed itself as the regulatory agency for womens bodies, guns and our environment. Whether we are protecting children in schools, protecting women’s rights to medical care, or protecting our environment, reaffirming society’s protections at the state level is one of the most important jobs that any legislator can do in the next Hawaii legislative session. I am #WorkingForThePeople so I will stand up for YOU!:

I will always vigourously oppose all efforts to restrict abortion!

On GUNS:The HI constitution Bill Of Rights mirrors the US second amendment. I have no problem with that. Yet violent crime increases by 15% in 10 years in unrestricted carry states. So I disagree with the SCOTUS decision allowing unrestricted carrying of guns.

Let me be clear: I do not believe that the 2nd amendment includes open carry of Russian machine guns or other assault rifles. We MUST NOT let Hawai’i become a warzone.

I was OUTRAGED to recently see a picture on facebook of my ‘Democratic’ opponent (R.M.) shooting a Russian Kalashnikov AK-47 Assault rifle with a giant ammunition magazine. After seeing little children die in Uvalde Texas I think that shows how out of touch some people are.

Here is my guiding philosophy. I have 3 criteria on which I will make ANY decision:
Will it help people?
Will it preserve and protect our environment?
Is it the wish of the people in my community?
If an issue can meet these 3 criteria I will vigorously fight for it. I will legislate from the heart using science as my guide.

I am Terez Amato, I am #WorkingForThePeople not corporations or lobbyists!

My websites are and support at
“You say tomato I say TAmato!”

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