comscore 2022 Election: Jamie A. Detwiler | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Jamie A. Detwiler

  • Jamie Detwiler
Name on ballot:

Jamie A. Detwiler

Running for:

State House – District 37

Political party:

Republican

Campaign website:

jamiedetwilerforhawaii.com

Current occupation:

Retired U.S. Army Civilian

Age:

61

Previous job history:

Healthcare Administrator and Licensed Social Worker

Previous elected office, if any:

None

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

Aloha! I am running for Hawai’i State Representative of District 37 Mililani-Waipio because I have a passion for freedom and a compassion for the people of our community. I am deeply concerned about the life-altering impact on individuals, families, and our economy brought on by the COVID mandates. I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Public Health Advanced Certificate from the University of Hawaii. I am also a trained Mediator and Critical Incident Response Specialist. I recently retired from the Federal Government holding various positions of advocacy and healthcare administration. I have a proven record of servant-leadership, collaboration, integrity, strategic planning, and a strong work ethic.

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

I have canvassed and spoken to many residents in District 37 in Mililani-Waipio. The most pressing issue facing our residents is the high cost of living to include housing, food, and gas. Many retirees are also concerned about the rising property tax and overall tax burden.

As a Legislator, I would collaborate with my constituents and fellow Legislators to develop a solution-focused strategy to develop a bill that would direct the Land Use Commission to responsibly open land for housing development with appropriate checks and balances taking into consideration the environmental and infrastructure impacts as well as affordability for various socio-economic categories. I would also include language in the bill to implement and execute private and public partnerships as evidenced by the successful Kahauiki Village housing program for the houseless community.

Hawai`i has the most geographically isolated population in the world, approximately 2,500 miles from the North American continent and more than 85% of our food is imported at a cost of $6.8 billion per year. Workers have the lowest average income in the US, yet Hawai`i is the most expensive state in which to live; food costs are 61% higher than in the rest of the USA. Hawai`i consistently loses farmers from it’s already small community as land costs are prohibitive and profits elusive. As Hawaii Developer, Peter Savio successfully demonstrated in January 2022 with the co-op purchase of farmlands in North Oahu, we have promising news that our food source will flourish into the future. We need to continue these partnerships throughout the state to be less dependent on food sourced from the mainland.

With regards to high gas prices, I would introduce legislation pertaining to the Jones Act Reformation at the state level similar to a resolution submitted by Maui County Councilmember, Mike Molina. For both economic and national security reasons, we should introduce legislation in the form a resolution to open domestic oil supply.

According to Keli’i Akina, president and CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, “Especially now, with Hawaii losing access to as much as a third of its oil imports from Russia, Hawaii residents need speedy and inexpensive access to U.S. oil sources, which the Jones Act has made uneconomical because of its rules against shipping competition.” Whether reform occurs or not, we must emphasize the need for access to domestic oil supply to reduce the cost of gas and petroleum products.

By adding state-level support to Jones Act resolutions being endorsed at the county level, there will be greater pressure on our federal delegates to seek positive change for the people of Hawaii.

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?

Hawaii’s Constitution requires that any “excess revenues” be given back to taxpayers, if the revenues are over 5% for each of two successive fiscal years. That is exactly the situation we are in today, as the state’s revenues increased by 8.1% in fiscal 2021 and are projected to show a 6.3% gain by the end of fiscal 2022. According to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, in the current situation, a more respectful option could be for the state to distribute $1 billion of its recent windfall cash to Hawaii’s 734,673 taxpayers, or $1,361 per taxpayer.

While $1,361 per tax payer may seem minimal to some, any amount will help Hawai’i families cope with the high consumer prices.

On Dec. 20, Governor Ige revealed that revenues for the first five months of fiscal 2022 had increased by 27.3%. If that pace continues, the state could see up to $1.7 billion more in tax revenues than originally expected, according to Grassroot Institute of Hawaii calculations — and that is not counting the $1 billion Hawaii received in federal American Rescue Plan aid for the fiscal 2022 budget and the additional $286 million in such aid for fiscal 2023. It also does not include the $2.8 billion Hawaii is to receive from the recently enacted federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

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?

In light of the 27.3% increased tax revenues, the state should suspend taxes on gasoline to help the residents of Hawaii. Some of my fellow community members are having to choose between food and gas to make ends meet.

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

Before we consider slowing or limiting the number of tourists coming to Hawaii, we have to look at diversifying our economy. Our law makers need to work together to develop bills that would significantly lower the tax burden and regulations for starting a business in Hawaii. I have spoken to many small business owners and they are burdened with high taxes and multiple layers of regulations. They describe having to report similar information to different state and county agencies. The layers of bureaucracy must be reviewed and eliminated to streamline and encourage new business development.

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


The state needs to start with lowering taxes and in some cases eliminate taxes. According to Joe Kent, Executive Vice President at Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, “We were astounded when we looked at the beginning of the Legislature at just dozens and dozens of tax hike ideas. Lawmakers, I didn’t know they could be so creative. We’ve got tax hikes on liquor, on conveyance taxes, car sharing taxes, tax hike on second homes. You got the TAT hacks surcharge proposals, rental car taxes, and on and on, even capital gains tax, general excise taxes, and even a death tax hike.” I was astounded to learn about the tax increases as well. The Legislature proposed these increases during the pandemic when many people were suffering for job loss and small business closers. Our economy was devastated and is struggling to recover today.

The state needs to reduce regulation, reduce duplicity within various government agencies, and lower the tax burden for all business. I spoke to a small business owner who has been working with government agencies with the goal of opening her small business. She continues to be referred from one agency to another to meet the regulations. The agencies are pointing fingers at one another and no one is taking responsibility to inform the business owner of what needs to be done.

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

As described in an earlier question, I would collaborate with my constituents and fellow Legislators to develop a solution-focused strategy to develop a bill that would direct the Land Use Commission to responsibly open land for housing development with appropriate checks and balances taking into consideration the environmental and infrastructure impacts as well as affordability for various socio-economic categories. I would also include language in the bill to implement and execute private and public partnerships as evidenced by the successful Kahauiki Village housing program for the houseless community.

I met with the staff and residents of Kahauiki Village in Honolulu. I toured the village and was impressed by the sense of community expressed by the staff and residents. They have an on-site convenience store whose employees are residents in the village as well as a community garden that is beautifully maintained. Additionally, they have monthly job fairs and employment skills workshops. I also toured a new after-school program on-site.

In the past, there was legislation that authorized the state Board of Land and Natural Resources — which oversees DLNR — to issue revocable, month-to-month permits for homeless, temporary shelter projects on state land where growing produce was allowed. I would collaborate with fellow Legislators and to explore permanent solutions with public-private partnerships. I would incorporate checks and balances while providing transparency to our community.

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

A pandemic or any other emergency does not take away our human rights. I would protect Hawai’i residents by upholding their rights under the U.S. Constitution and Hawaii State Constitution which states, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world …”

I would keep my constituents informed about the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, allow churches and all business to remain open, advise people to seek medical care as needed, and allow all health professionals to practice within the scope of their licenses and clinical practice guidelines. If some health professionals would like to offer therapeutic treatment, then do so and give people the “choice” to determine their own treatment plan. I would also support a resolution that would emphasize and uphold the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated”

As you may recall, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media and our Lt. Governor reported a shortage of hospital beds, therefore we needed to comply the emergency orders and mandates. However, many people including myself did not know that a bill was proposed that would allow for an increase hospital bed capacity. The bill died and was never heard in committee. I would strongly advocate for this bill to be re-introduced during the next legislative session and keep the people of our community informed.

I believe the response to the COVID-19 crisis could have been improved. The Governor exceeded his authority by implementing multiple extensions to the “State of Emergency” status beyond the 60-day limit as stated in the Hawaii Revised Statutes. In retrospect, a special legislative session should have been called and Legislators should be required to discuss and debate the issues. Legislators should have reached out to their constituents via a virtual Town Hall Meeting for feedback.

According to the Hawaii State Constitution, Article 1. Section 1. All political power of this State is inherent in the people and the responsibility for the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority.

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?

As stated earlier, Hawaii’s Constitution requires that any “excess revenues” be given back to taxpayers, if the revenues are over 5% for each of two successive fiscal years. Therefore, I believe we should return a percentage to every tax payer to ease the burden of the high cost of living and inflation.

Secondly, I would not start any new projects until the housing and food security crisis is adequately addressed. We have to partner with the Land Use Commission, Developers, and Community Subject Matter Experts to develop a fiscally responsible plan to meet the needs of the people. We need to submit reasonable budgets and timelines and adhere to what is agreed upon.

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

I believe we should support and uphold the U.S. Supreme Court decision. I believe that the Hawaii State Legislature should have a robust debate and work together with the community as well as with fellow Legislators to develop a plan that works for Hawaii. We need to be inclusive and transparent.

I also believe that life begins at conception where a unique DNA is established. We all have a unique DNA. There are multiple peer-reviewed scientific research evidence to support this statement. Regardless of my personal position, I believe the Legislators and community members should have a robust discussion with testimony from everyone on both sides of the issue. The decision at the state level should include the voice of the people.

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

The state government should support elected county school boards. Every county has unique strengths and weaknesses. An “elected” county school board will allow parents and people in their community to have access to the school board where they can have collaborative relationships creating partnerships that will enhance and improve each child’s educational experience. Oahu and Neighbor island communities as well as education staff will have improved access to their county school boards rather than the current Oahu-based Board of Education comprised of Governor-appointed individuals.

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

The Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), Chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“UIPA”) needs to be revised. The revisions should include video of all meetings that is accessible to the public and decrease the cost of records requests. Hawaii has the highest public records fees in the nation.

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

I support (with reservations) the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Hawai’i island. I would only support it if the non-operational telescopes were dismantled and completely removed from Mauna Kea. I would also raise concerns at the state and federal level as to the security of all telescopes in Hawaii. We have to be extremely cautious and diligent with protecting TMT as our adversaries have an interest in the information and data produced by the Thirty Meter Telescope.

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

I am Hawaii born and raised in Kaneohe. My Mahoe ‘Ohana have humble beginnings in Puna and my grandmother’s family resided in Haleiwa.

I have been married for 35 years to Neal Detwiler who is a retired Honolulu Fire Department Captain. We have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. We have lived in Mililani for 34 years and love our ‘ohana and the people of our community. In my spare time, I love spending time with my family and I enjoy the art of leimaking and gardening.

I graduated from Castle High School. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from University of Hawaii at Hilo and a master’s degree in Social Work along with a Public Health Advanced Certificate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

I am NOT a politician. I am a licensed social worker in Hawaii. I am also a trained Mediator and Critical Incident Response Specialist. I recently retired from the Federal Government holding various positions of advocacy and most recently healthcare administration.

I have a proven record of servant-leadership, strategic planning, collaboration, integrity, and a strong work ethic. Over the course of my 33-year career, I’ve earned the trust of clients, families, colleagues, leaders, and stakeholders through advocacy in health care and social services.

As your Representative, I will bring Truth, Courage, and Integrity back to the State Capitol.
I am ready to stand and fight for you, your family and for the people of Hawaii and to hold myself accountable to those whom I serve.

I will collaborate with fellow Legislators to represent your voice through the development and implementation of sound policy.


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