comscore 2022 Election: Tracy Aaron Arakaki | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Tracy Aaron Arakaki

  • Tracy Arakaki
Name on ballot:

Tracy Aaron Arakaki

Running for:

State House – District 33

Political party:

Democratic

Campaign website:

ArakakiForAiea.com

Current occupation:

National Independent Television Producer

Age:

57

Previous job history:

Auto Body, Screen Printer, Promoter, News Cameraman, Petroleum Industry

Previous elected office, if any:

Aiea Neighborhood Board 23 Years

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

My family has called Aiea home since 1960, 3 generations. I am a former award winning news cameraman where I was a union member and as a small home based business owner for over 35 so I understand both worlds very well. Working in the news industry I learned how to see both sides and to be able be fair and impartial. In my role as an independent TV show producer I learned the valuable skill of negotiation. This is a skill that is extremely important to be a successful legislator in order to be a benefit for ones community.

I have served on the Aiea Neighborhood board for over 23 years and understand our Aiea’s communities needs. As a former petroleum industry worker I know the threat facing our water source in our Aiea that supplies the island. I will fight for transparency and accountability from the Navy as we move forward to have our water sources secured so that this will never happen again. Speeding is also a major concern as our district of Aiea comprises of mainly hills. Our family has had our fair share of our vehicles being a total write off from reckless speeders. Homeless is another issue that will be high on my list to address as well.

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

One of the most pressing issues my district is facing is ensuring that our water is safe for the community. Everyone is concerned about the fuel leak at Red Hill. I have worked for years in the petroleum industry and know the dangers. This is why I sit on the Aiea boards Red Hill committee. As your Aiea Representative I would continue holding government agencies accountable by ensuring the safe draining and decommissioning of the Red Hill fuel tanks. I will ensure that our community is apprised of the decommissioning as well as work with the responsible agencies to ensure it is done safely and quickly.

Another issue is working on housing and homelessness, two issues that are inseparable. Most Hawaii residents are just one paycheck or medical emergency away from financial disaster and or homelessness. At the state level we could be finding ways to make affordable housing developments more attractive and tenable, to increase the affordable rental unit inventory. On a smaller scale, I believe that we need to continue providing massive outreach to get the many individuals the social, medical, and psychological help they need to get them off the streets.

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?

First and foremost, the prevailing cost of living is such a huge issue for our state. Locals are being priced out of their lands and homes and food is becoming more and more expensive as well as needs for the skyrocketing costs for fuel. I support better wages for Hawaii’s working families. We can do this by attracting high tech and specialized industry companies, through improving the business climate and also providing incentives. I also support adjusting the low-income tax credit thresholds to current economic conditions, which should help the struggling families in Hawaii. I’m also interested in exploring ways in which the state of Hawaii can improve supply chains and make transportation of goods more equitable for our people.

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?

The governor has said that he will not support the federal holiday gas tax so a state suspension of the gas tax will be highly improbable. A lot of times the gas suppliers raise and lower their prices due to the prevailing crude oil prices of the day which is not the gas that you are putting into your vehicle that day. It also seems that the prices will always be quick to rise but extremely slow to come back down as well. Bills in the past of a gas cap has been mentioned but never implemented. While adding a gas cap may not solve the problems the disconnect of true market crude price verses pump prices need to be addressed so that the consumer is only paying for what the true costs plus profit is. This is why suppliers have recorded high quarterly profits for 2021 and 2022

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

I don’t think limiting the amount of tourists that come to Hawaii is economically feasible as our economy is heavily dependent upon this industry. What I think we need to do is educate these tourists before their gate arrival about the delicate ecosystem of Hawaii and what they can do to help preserve the environment. I think we should be charging for a lot of attractions these tourists utilize to fund these educational programs and to help maintain these assets.

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


I am a strong advocate for the trade and vocational schools as an alternative to traditional four-year college education. While I don’t think that eliminating tourism is feasible, I do believe that the recent Covid-19 pandemic showed us the fragility of an economy wholly based on tourism. We should use this opportunity to diversify our economic sectors, which in turn could also benefit our education system as well as our workforce.

For example, if we were to bring more industries such as aerospace into the state, we could create pipelines in our public schools and the University of Hawaii. This would allow accelerated programs that would complement the needs of the emerging industry- from engineers and scientists to mechanics and welding, these new industries will need these necessary trades people. We should continue with the destination management plan, but our policymakers should be thinking about long-term systemic change and I believe promoting our trade schools already in our college system is paramount to diversifying our states economy for generations to come.

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

Sitting on the Aiea Neighborhood board I have heard many proposals from many developers over the decades. There are a lot of loopholes for developers to combine affordable units from one project to the next. A lot of these loopholes need to be closed and projects need to be held accountable for the amount of affordable units they say they will provide. There are a lot of tax credits and other programs to entice developers already in place. A lot of delays come from needing to streamline the permitting process. I think once that can be addressed many projects will be quicker to get completed.

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

By making more home test kits readily available to pick up at physical locations for folks will be much appreciated. Most folks who may be positive but feel minor symptoms will still go to public places especially if they don’t get tested. If folks could test more conveniently at home my hope is they would be more responsible to isolate and be mindful of their community should they have a positive test result.

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?

I would have committed significant funding towards a technology overhaul for all agencies of the state. Including our Department of Education, which suffered the biggest challenge due to many children not having access to either a laptop or internet connection. As recently as 2021, some state agencies that accept payments for the state are still not accepting electronic or credit card payment. Even simple small changes like these could help many Hawaii families. The city has implements kiosks for auto registration renewals, I believe we can have similar programs on the state side with equal success.

We also saw the state deal with an unprecedented number of Unemployment Insurance claims, something that should have been addressed and the technology been updated prior to the pandemic. I also would like to see a stronger pivot towards tech focused job growth in the state, so that we can attract higher paying and green jobs, which would benefit our people, the environment and our state so that we can be better prepared for the future.

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

Now that the decision will be left to the states this is a crucial time for the upcoming legislative session to support these programs that were funded by federal programs and grants, etc. It is going to be a challenge for the state to allocate funding from the state budget to make sure that these programs can continue to provide these services uninterrupted. I will work hard to make sure we can still provide adequate funding for these programs.

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

Higher teacher salaries are a must first and foremost if we are the retain our most valued asset in education. The better teachers we attract and retain the better our classrooms for learning will.

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

I believe conference committees should be open to the public. Since time is an issue, perhaps the legislature could adopt internal rules that allow public testimony on conference issues but limits testimony to ensure timeliness. I also believe that the system for ethics disclosures could be improve on, to improve public trust and to provide more thorough investigations of cases the ethics commission receives. Just like the police department has a commission we need a similar commission to oversee the city and state’s ethics commission as well.

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

Although I support the benefits and jobs the TMT will provide and the contribution to science there needs to be a better and more expedient cleanup process of the telescopes that are no longer in use. In other words clean up the opala. The new oversight board I believe is a great start to have more input of the stewardship and management overall of Mauna Kea.

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

No answer submitted


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