Justin Hughey, 2010 candidate for State House District 8, Transcript:
Introduction: My name is Justin Hughey and I’m running for State House of Representatives, District 8. I am a teacher, and I work a second job at a restaurant in order to be a teacher, even though I have a Master’s Degree. My predominant focus is on education. I’ve kind of been appalled by the educational system every year and now that we had the furloughs, I just really couldn’t sit back and see what happens next year. I’m also running on reducing the cost of medical insurance; Health insurance
keeps rising; The foreclosure mess a big problem and I want to address, by working on keeping families in their homes; Hawaiian Home Lands–providing more infrastructure–getting people off the rolls; and economic development–jobs, jobs, jobs.
Civil Unions: What is your position on civil unions? Should same sex couples be granted the same rights and privileges as legally married couples? Answer: I feel that same-sex couples should have the equal right to be just as miserable as the rest of us. But, in all honesty, there was a time when a lot of communities though slavery was okay; there was a time when people thought that women shouldn’t be able to vote; there was a time when (people thought) minorities shouldn’t be able to vote, Native Hawaiians shouldn’t be able to vote. And I just really feel that the civil unions bill should have passed. It was also a bill for everyone. It wasn’t just for same sex couples. It was for everyone. When France incorporated it, they saw a drop in divorce by 25%, and I just feel that it’s a great stepping stone to the sanctity of marriage between you, God, and your community.
Honoapiilani Hwy: The widening/realignment of the Honoapiilani Hwy has been discussed for years, yet only a small portion is currently under construction. How long will it really take and what alternatives do you envision to alleviate infrastructure concerns now? Answer: I think this is a little bit–honestly–of a misleading question. I mean, it took 30 years for us to get the funding for it. And now, are we just going to do another Superferry and (did we not learn from the Superferry)? Are we just going to be paving over everything and disregard our community, and disregard what we might found under the ground? I drive from Wailuku to Lahiana to school every day and I do see a widening that is already happening there and I think we just need to, now that the funding is there and happening, now we just need to relax and let it happen.
Protection of Natural Resources/Water: The state commission on water resource management recently issued rulings on streams in East Maui and at Na Wai ‘Eha in the West Maui Mountains. Are the new in-stream flow standards sufficient or will they ultimately hurt the struggling sugar industry? Answer: That’s an excellent question that a lot of people are talking about. I believe in the public trust doctrine of the Hawaii State Constitution that water is not owned by any entity–it is there for the people. I’ve been talking to a lot of people and legislators about this and an interesting thing that I find is, we have to have balance and the companies–they really need to conserve. There’s a company that recycles municipal sewer water and turns it into ag water. So, there might be a way to produce jobs, keep more water in the streams and use this company to recycle sewer water into ag water–that’s what they specialize in.
Education: What do you plan to do to prevent a repeat of the furlough Friday situation at public schools? Answer: There’s no way it’s going to happen on my watch. I want to make it a permanent, historical event, that will never come up again. First issue is fully funding education to make sure furloughs will never, ever happen. I am completely committed to that. Two, is that our state spends 40% of their budget on education, and yet we still have teacher shortages. So, we need to reallocate those funds to the front lines. How are we going to do that? We’re going to conduct a fair and impartial audit of the Department of Education, so we’re not demonizing it and cutting it with a hatchet. (Instead we are) taking scalpels, cutting it with a scalpel and looking at certain inefficiencies. We need to talk about Complex Area Superintendents–do we really want to spend $150,000 on that position? I see the Superintendent of Schools’ vision should go straight to the principals. The muck-up in between is a little iffy. Also, we need to ensure local decision making within the state-wide school system–through school community councils. We can give them some teeth with having them give final approval of the academic and financial plans. We have to end the wasteful contracts of outside consulting to private companies. We can be doing that for less than the $45 million that we’re paying right now, which will be over $140 million in two years.
I have a plan to effectively measure student and school performance, which a lot of schools aren’t getting their just deserves. A lot of schools had showed progress, even though they didn’t meet the Annual Yearly Progress. Eliminate repair and maintenance backlog–that is huge. There is jobs right there. At my school in 2007, there was holes in the roof. We had a $600 million surplus that the legislature allocated $200 million to education. Linda Lingle didn’t release it. At my school we had water falling in on the kids when they were taking the State Assessment–and actually the pieces of the ceiling were falling in on the kids. I was appalled. I took pictures of it, sent it to my representative. But I got that roof put on; I helped to get that roof put on. I had a schedule and you know, schools have to have safe structures, at the minimum. Make schools energy self sufficient–which is huge: solar panels on roofs. We shouldn’t have to be paying for the energy here. And fully staff schools for a well-rounded education. And finally, create teacher incentives to keep teachers here. I actually just met with Dan Inouye’s staff and they wanted to know what kind of federal funds they could bring. The DOE used to spend $20 million a year to train and recruit teachers to come here, of which 60% would leave in three years because, hey, it’s beautiful, but I only get paid less than $1,200 every two weeks after taxes. But we should be spending money on tuition waivers for people here–residents that are here, who have lived here and would like to work here, so that they don’t have to pay the tuition and go in debt to be a teacher. So that is my encompassing educational platform.
Closing thoughts: I’m just a common man that works two jobs in order to live paycheck-to-paycheck. I am doing this to keep the attention on education. I have no doubt that I can be very successful as a watchdog for education in the House, bringing over the bacon. I believe this because I’ve gotten up in front of and passed legislation in front of my teachers representative assemblies, debating issues in front of 500 different people. I then went to the National Education Association and passed legislation there in front of over 10,000 people, debating issues. And finally, my biggest one was, I passed a resolution this year– House Congruent Resolution 282–that petitioned Congress to separate the division between corporations and people. There’s just way too much corruption going on. That got me an interview on the Tom Hartman show–he has 3 million viewers. But honestly, it’s not about me. My race is not about putting my face in the paper. It’s about you the parents and every one in the community really needs to get out because when the furlough thing comes around, and I’m not in there, they’re going to look at the rolls and see how many people voted and if no one comes out, they’re going to say, “Hey, they didn’t care. We can do this again.” But I really feel that here in Hawaii, we can have an educational renaissance if we focus our resentment towards what happened and get out and vote. And vote for people, like I believe in myself, who can get in there and really truly reform education. At http://www.putateacherinthehouse.com/  you can find out all the information about me there.