Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 74° Today's Paper


Election

2022 Election: Seaula TUPAI, Jr.

Seaula TUPAI, Jr.
1/1
Swipe or click to see more
Name on ballot:

Seaula TUPAI, Jr.

Running for:

Political party:

Republican

Campaign website:

votetupai.com

Current occupation:

Overcoming Faith Center – Senior Minister

Age:

43

Previous job history:

Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy – Instructor, Hilo High – Football Coach (9 seasons), Kamehameha School Keaau – Football Coach (1 season), Waiakea High School – Alternative Learning Center Instructor.

Previous elected office, if any:

No answer submitted

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I am and always has been devoted to the people. That’s what being a Public Servant should be about. After years of experience working in ministry, sports, and music, my focus was to make positive changes in the lives of families, seniors, and young people. It’s this intense dedication, passion, and devotion that fuels my fight for change.

What will be your top priority if elected?

If elected, my top priority will be to uphold our State Constitution and put the need of the People of Hawaii first. I will work to decrease cost of living, lower taxes, provide Hawaii’s keiki with top quality education, and bring transparency and truth back into our government. In the end, protecting the rights and livelihoods of the People will always be the highest priority of my administration.

How do you view the role of the lieutenant governor’s office and how will you approach fulfilling that role?

Some see the lieutenant governor as a useless position. As just a method to gaining popularity before trying their hand at governor.
I, however, see it as a complementary position. I believe the lieutenant governor is an incredibly important role as he will not only have the ear of the Governor, but also the ear of the people. As such he can bridge the gap between the two and help to bring understanding and harmony to our government. If elected, I will fulfill that role by setting the example of servant leadership. I will be the first to advocate for transparency within the legislature, and will be the first to hold myself to the standard set by our State Constitution and State Motto. I will use the position of lieutenant governor, not as a way to elevate myself, but as a way to elevate our entire community.

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?

We’ve known for a long time that our state is expensive. But we feel it now more than ever. In 2021, Hawaii cost of living was at an index of 193.3. That is 88% higher than the national average. Our housing is 202% higher than the rest of the nation, and we pay 50% more for groceries than the rest of the nation. It’s no wonder our young people are leaving in droves.
I believe the state can ease these pains by creating legislation that makes sense. Why haven’t we eliminated the GET on necessities like food, gas, and medicine? Why are we still using policies, such as the Jones Act, when it doesn’t serve our citizens? I believe when these issues are handled we will see the cost of living decrease.

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 past two years have been difficult for a lot of people. We’ve all had to make hard decision about where our money goes. We cannot tax ourselves into prosperity. We need a break.
Eliminating taxes on necessities, such as gas, will be my administrations first order of business.

What is your plan to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?

I believe the COVID-19 pandemic showed us two very important things. Firstly, that there was a massive disconnect between the wants of the people and the policies that were made. People know what is best for their health and safety as well as the health and safety of their families. Secondly, it showed us how important the mental health of our community, but specifically our keiki and kupuna, really is. We saw suicide rates in children and the elderly skyrocket like never before in 2020. We cannot repeat this tragedy.
My plan to protect Hawaii during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic is to give the people the power to choose what they believe is best for their health and safety. My administration will also work closely with nonprofit organizations that specialize in providing our community with the necessary mental health resources they need. I believe people know how to take care of their health. They just need to be given all the options.

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

In February of last year, Hawaii averaged 90,776 visitor daily. Although I have no issue with tourism being a part of our economy, our current reliance is overloading our already crowded roads, beaches, and Aina. I believe that we, as a state, can put a small cap on tourism while we take care of our most pressing issues.

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

Right now, our state is suffering from an economic phenomenon known as “over-tourism”. The tourism industry makes up 21% of our economy. But as we saw during the pandemic, this industry is not sustainable. If elected, my administration will be proactive in reinvigorating our fishing, farming, and food production industry. If elected, I will work to see that we are not only finding solutions to our sustainability but also introducing a new industry into our state. My administration will also look at other industries, such as holistic medicine, as a possibility of diversifying our economy.

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

As I’ve stated before, we know our state is expensive. Honolulu is ranked in the top 3 most expensive cities in the U.S. And while our housing median rises, so does our foreign investment. Across the state 60% of our population owns a home; but how can we be hopeful about those numbers when 15% of homes on Oahu and 40% of homes on the Big Island are being bought and developed by nonresidents? In 2016 & 2017 alone, Hawaii News Now found that foreign investors purchased $1 billion worth of residential properties. It’s time we had the hard conversation about who can buy and rent here. If elected, I will work to see policies that priorities local homeownership is set in motion. I will seek to work with organizations that find affordable alternatives to the current high-rises, monster homes that keep being developed. It’s time we stop giving way to foreign corporations and developers that do nothing but line their pockets and push our people out.
In regards to homelessness, I am well aware of the many reasons people may face homelessness and houselessness. If elected, my administration will support and work closely with nonprofit organizations that are already proving the community with the resources and care the homeless population needs. My hope, is that I will be put a position to help these nonprofits do what they do best; serve our communities

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?

If elected, my top priority will be to use our budget to preserve the prosperity of Hawaii’s families. To achieve this my administration will focus on three main areas.
1.) Investing in infrastructure that moves Hawaii’s economy forward. We will specifically prioritize spending on sustainability, land usage, and reevaluating policies, such as the Jones Act, to determine whether or not our people see a direct benefit.
2.) Investing in our education system. Once economic measures are put in place we will need a well-educated and skilled workforce to drive the economic machine. We already are seeing more and more of our young people leave for the mainland in search of better work and housing opportunities. There’s so much Hawaii’s education system needs overhauled. My administration will emphasize curriculum that will bring our students back to the basics; and get them academically prepared for the workforce. We will also emphasize trade based education as well as tech in order to bring balance into the workforce.
3.) Investing in our housing. Buying a home has always been tantamount to the American Dream. Having access to a home and being able to afford it gives people dignity. This is yet another area that needs overhauling and repair! As I’ve stated before, foreign investors and developers have been contributing to the rising costs of housing. We will enact strict policies that protect the interest of our people and their dreams of owning a home. In essence, my approach to spending is to overhaul and repair our broken systems. By eliminating policies that give a select few unnecessary perks and benefits, we can reinvest that money back into what matters the most, our people.

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

The most prudent thing the state government should do is let the people of this state decide whether Hawaii is to be a for abortion or against abortion state. Put the issue up for vote on a special ballot and let the people’s voices be heard on this matter. A hand count of the yeas or nays should settle this entirely. My reasoning for this is that it has been said that men should not have a say in this issue because ultimately it’s the woman’s right to make the choice over her own body. I understand that reasoning. I should not presume tell a woman how best to take care of her own body. However, as a man (who may become a father one day,) I’d like the chance to speak on behalf of the unborn children who cannot speak for themselves or speak for their own bodies. Science does confirm that it takes 2 people (man and woman) to create the unborn child. The opportunity to vote on the matter gives ALL in the state (including countless men) a chance to have a say.

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

Hawaii has not done much right in regards to education. We ranked 48th in ACT scores, 32nd in school safety, and 40th in overall educational quality. It’s hard to be positive in the light of these sobering statistics. I believe that the biggest problem facing our school system today is the lack of choice. Hawaii’s families have not been given the opportunity to select the best educational environment that suits their needs. If elected, I will work to revamp our state’s “one-size -fits-all” school system, and empower parents through school choice. I believe that when parents are given more opportunities to take their child’s education into their own hands we will see an improvement in our educational quality. I will also work to ensure that the money follows the backpacks. Whether that be through ESAs (Educational Savings Accounts), Tax Credit Scholarships, or providing families with tax benefits and deductions, the money must follow the kids!

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

Sadly, our state officials have forgotten that they are public servants and that they are accountable to the People. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen multiple of our elected officials go under investigation by the FBI for their connections to high profile corruption cases. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the citizens of our state don’t have faith in our government. To ensure more transparency within our state government, my administration will put power back into the hands of the people. We will put a Constitutional Sheriff on the ballot who will hold all elected officials, myself included, accountable to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our oaths of office. We will also put governor appointed candidates on the ballot. Furthermore, we will look into holding regular townhalls with up to date reports. Our citizens deserve full openness; and my administration will work to bring this back into our government.

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

I fully understand the plight of the Hawaiian people. Coming from the Big Island myself, I understand their reasons as to why they are apprehensive to the Thirty Meter Telescope. However, I do hear the voices of those who believe it can benefit our state, especially in regards our children’s education. Personally, I cannot in good faith give my total support to the Thirty Meter Telescope. Until all promises are kept and full disclosure is given, I will not give my support to the TMT.

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

I don’t consider myself a politician, rather I see myself as a statesman. Politicians only look towards the next election but a statesman looks towards the next generation. I believe JFK said it best; “let us not seek the Democrat answer, or the Republican answer, rather let us seek the right answer”. My name is Seaula Jr. Tupai and I humbly ask for your vote.


View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines. Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.