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2022 Election: Carole Kauhiwai Kaapu

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  • Carole Kaapu
Name on ballot:

Carole Kauhiwai Kaapu

Running for:

State House – District 29

Political party:


Campaign website:

Current occupation:

Sr. Legislative Analyst, State House of Representatives



Previous job history:

Kamehameha Schools Preschools – Volunteer Program Coordinator
American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region – Regional Preparedness Manager
Legislative Analyst, Committee Clerk for VC of Finance, Legislative Aide – State House of Representatives (7 Sessions)
Pure Rain Productions – Creative Director/Owner/Consultant
Broadcast Producer & Engineer, Multimedia Director – New Hope Christian Fellowship Oahu
Supervisor of Missionaries – LIFE Ministries, Japan

Previous elected office, if any:

Neighborhood Board #14 (currently a member)

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I have gone to school, worked, and lived in the District for most of my life. I am familiar with the needs of our community, as well as, familiar with the Legislature. My diverse career and experience allows me to bring new ideas and multiple perspectives to solving complex problems.

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

The rising cost of living is having a significant impact on the families in my community. Before the start of the lockdowns, we were often just making ends meet. Then as things started looking better, the cost of everything skyrocketed. I would propose a General Excise Tax holiday for food and medical needs. It would be a small start but could be done quickly.

As a longer term solution: repealing the US build requirement of the Jones Act to allow direct shipments of goods to Hawaii without going through California.

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?

General Excise Tax reform. Revising the ship building requirements of the Jones Act so that the cost of transporting goods to Hawaii can be reduced.

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 State tax on gasoline products is only about 20 cents per gallon. That money goes to various green/climate change initiatives. Right now, the cost of driving to work is more pressing than those long term projects. So yes, that would be a good first step.

The Counties also have a tax per gallon, ranging from 17 to 24 cents, but that is more for infrastructure. Our roads, water and sewer need help, so that would be my last choice.

Again, exempting Hawaii from the Jones Act could help reduce the cost of bringing petroleum products to Hawaii, by allowing ships to stop and deliver products here on their way to and from the mainland.

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

When the lockdowns started in 2020, I got a clearer picture of just how many tourists were normally in our State as every empty vacant lot and mall parking lot was filled with parked rental cars! There were something like 30,000 rental cars on ‘Oahu. In general, I think that is too many at one time.

How to change the current tourism model is a complex social and legal issue. As a Representative for a district that relies on tourism for jobs, I would gather the voices of our communities and see what kinds of solutions we can come up with. How can we make the Tourism Industry beneficial for both the residents and visitors?

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

Stop overregulating small businesses. This would allow our community to easily start new businesses, and help our multi-generational ones stay in business. Like, why was the plate lunch shop that has been here for generations forced to close during the lockdown, but Costco and McDonalds were not? We need to fully support local businesses.

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

First and foremost, reduce the regulations for building homes. One example is, why did the house down the street need over a year to get a permit to rebuild? The builder put up a sign when he tore down the old house and updated it as he waited for the permits… it was sad to see the property vacant for almost 16 months before they could start to build the new house.

That is a small example of how our regulatory system is not serving the people of Hawaii. Over regulation goes much further than in housing permits. We need to look at what is stopping our people from being productive and remove the barriers that keep our economy stifled.

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

Right now, the focus seems to only be physical health. We need a broader approach that includes mental health, financial health, educational help for our keiki, and services for our kupuna. These have all been inadequate in the response of the last two years.

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?

Housing, helping the keiki that have lost the last two years of education, and reducing the State’s debt.

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

The current laws in the State permit abortions up to fetal viability.
I support life from conception to natural death, but with the state of our economy, the high cost of living, and the increase in crime, these other issues should be our focus and priority right now.

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

Our large statewide system doesn’t seem to be working very well. We do have complexes within the larger whole. I’d like to explore moving more authority to the complex level so that communities can have an active say in the education of their keiki.
I also like the concept of the Community School that was piloted in Kohala. I’d like to expand that program.

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

What’s needed is to have more community engagement in the process. The barriers to this are many; people working two jobs just to make ends meet and no time to get involved, a complex and hard to understand process, and the short timetable for the Legislative Session making everything move quickly. Removing these, and other barriers, would allow more people to be engaged. This would force Legislators to answer to their constituents during the process and bring more transparency.

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

As a kanaka maoli, who has watched the stars through the telescopes on Mauna Kea as a student at UH Hilo, I fully support studying and learning from the stars as the Hawaiians have done since they first came to these islands. The more we can bring a love for nature and the sciences to our keiki, the brighter our future looks. Our schools have added STEM classes and robotics to encourage our keiki to pursue science and tech jobs. We need to provide those jobs, like astronomy, in our state so they don’t have to move to the mainland to pursue their careers.

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

I am a concerned citizen who loves our community. I see the increase in crime, especially against our kupuna. I know how hard it is to buy food and pay for gas. I see our family and friends leaving Hawai’i for a chance at a better life on the mainland. I know that we are struggling to survive. I want to be a part of changing Hawai’i back to the values and aloha that I grew up with. I was raised here in Hawai’i. My family is from Punalu’u.

In our district, I have been a student at Ma’ema’e and Kamehameha, an employee of New Hope Christian Fellowship Oahu and Kamehameha Schools Preschools, a small business owner, and a full-time caregiver for my mother. I am very familiar with the Legislature; I’ve worked in the House for seven sessions and am currently a Senior Legislative Analyst for the House Minority Research Office.

I volunteer on Neighborhood Board #14, with the Red Cross, and the Lanakila Multipurpose Senior Center. I know our community, my neighbors, and our problems.

I am a conservative in both social and financial issues. I stand for faith, family and freedom. My faith is my foundation. I am not a politician; I am a public servant. I look forward to continuing to serve my community as their Representative in the House.

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