VIDEO: Gary Hooser Candidate Profile, Decision 2010 MauiNOW.com
Gary Hooser, 2010 candidate for Lt. Governor of Hawaii, Transcript:
INTRODUCTION: Aloha, I’m Gary Hooser. I’m a candidate for Lt. Governor. And I’m focusing on the issues (there’s lots of important issues of course, but) energy independence, educational excellence, environmental protection and sustainability are my key areas of focus. I’ve been in the Hawaii State Senate for eight years, I spent four years as the majority leader, I was on the Kauai County Council, and before that, I was in small business.
I’m the only candidate for Lt. Governor who’s from the neighbor islands. I spent 30 years on Kauai–raised my family there, went to school there, and ran my business there. I happen to be here on Maui talking about issues that are important to the people of Maui.
Puunene Prison:Are you in support of or against building a Prison Facility in Puunene on Maui?
Answer: Well, you know, as Lt. Governor, you don’t have direct control or direct influence if you would, over those kinds of decisions. In general, I would say a couple of things in terms of underlying philosophy. I think we need to bring our prisoners home from the mainland. That means we’d have to find places for them here in Hawaii to live and to house them here. I think it’s better social policy, it’s better economic policy (to keep the money here), it’s a lot easier to rehabilitate prisoners if they’re closer to their families. As to that particular facility, I would leave it up to the community. I think it’s clear that the communities–we have to find a place to put our prisons. They are a part of our ohana, if you would, whether we would like to admit it or not. That particular facility, I think is under development in terms of the overall plan. We have to find a place to put them. I would say Maui should not carry any more than its fare share. But it should be in proportion to the rest of the state–which most of them would be in Honolulu. That’s probably the best answer (I have). We have to leave it up to the community. I don’t think we have to force it on the community. We need to find an appropriate place to house our prisoners. We need to take responsibility for them.
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 traffic now?
Answer: Well, you know this is a problem for every island. I know, I’ve been on Kauai for 30 years, and we also have our fair share of traffic problems. And we have bypass roads that have been planned and talked about for 20 or 30 years. Money is the underlying issue for all of our highway improvements. So, I would say quite frankly, it’s not going to happen quickly. I think the way to make it happen is to get the Maui delegation in the state legislature together and focused, and this would be their number one highway priority, and then push for that. Maui does have some very influential and very hard working senators. When I served in the Senate with Senator Shan Tsutsui as the Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, he holds a very important role, and hopefully he will stay in that role. I’ve worked with Senator (Roz) Baker, and Senator (J. Kalani) English, as well as the house members. If they are united and stay focused on that project, I think that incrementally, we can get the funds together for it. I know it’s an important road. I know it’s a lifeline to that area, and when there are fires or accidents, it costs a lot of money and it’s a big inconvenience, and so we need to fix it. But I would just say that we need to persevere and be persistent and stay focused on it.
Water Rights:Re the water commission decision in East/West Maui: Do you think the State Water commission was correct in its decision on instream water flows at East Maui and at Na Wai ‘Eha? Why or why not.
Answer: I think the short answer is yes. I wish they would move faster. Part of the problem is that the water has been promised to be restored to the steams for many, many years around the state. And it’s a balance between jobs, agriculture and our natural resources. And I believe we need to put the resources ahead of everything. And we don’t need to do it all at once, but we need to phase it in and have some concrete, specific commitment, long-term to restore the water to the streams. So I’m glad that a significant amount of water was restored–I look forward to the day when an increasing amount is restored to the streams and we can get water to the taro farmers and restore the life of those streambeds.
Furloughs: If elected to the post of Lt. Governor, what would you do to prevent a repeat of the Furlough Friday situation in Hawaii’s classrooms?
Answer: When it happened, when the state issued the furlough Fridays, when the Governor announced it, I’m proud to say I was the first legislator to step up and say, this is intolerable, this is a travesty, and we need to fix it. And I actually proposed a solution of using the Hurricane Funds. I’ve been through two hurricanes. I survived two on Kauai, and so I don’t do that lightly, but we should put education first. We should pay our teachers a fair wage. We should provide smaller class sizes. We should provide more technology. We should in no uncertain terms, put education first. Never ever again should we balance our budget on the back of our school children. I was walking door to door in some neighborhoods in Honolulu and there were some men that I was talking to from the Philippines, and they told me, they said, ‘Senator, you know where I come from, we come from a poor country,’ and they said, ‘but we’ve never ever closed our schools to balance our budget.’ And we should at the minimum have that high standard. We did pass a law mandating a minimum number of school days and school hours, so by law we should be able to avoid furlough Fridays. But the bottom line is we need to put our money where our values are, and we need to pay the money that we need for teachers and for schools.
Superferry:If given the opportunity, would you support the return of the Hawaii Superferry?
Answer: You know I have to say, I would not want to support a return of the Hawaii Superferry. If there were other inter-island ferry operations that chose to do it properly, to follow the law, to do the proper Environmental Impact Statements, and to have a business plan that works, and not have the state subsidize it, certainly, I would be supportive of a plan like that. If we’re going to do it, we need to do it right, and need to take into consideration the protection of the environment, the cost to the state and the taxpayer, and yes, most certainly–as the only neighbor island candidate running for Lt. Governor, I know first hand. I fly all the time. I know the expense. I know the inconvenience. And I would welcome to have other alternative modes of transportation, but the Hawaii Superferry chose to circumvent the law–that’s the bottom line–in working with the Governor. And the law, in the end won. Thank goodness we have a Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court ruled twice, that it was wrong. So I would welcome a new company doing it the right way, absolutely.
Closing thoughts: (this is your opportunity to give contact info or upcoming campaign info for Maui constituents)
Answer: I’m right for office to be your Lt. Governor and the Lt. Governor for all of the people of Maui and the state. I’ve served eight years in the State Senate, again on the Kauai County Council. I want to do more. I’ve been out in front of the issues. I don’t sit in the back of the class if you would. I believe in leadership is getting out in front. I was out in front on the Superferry issue. I was out in front on the Furlough Friday issue. The recent civil unions issue–I’m very proud to have stood tall for equality for all of Hawaii’s people. And so I believe that leadership should take risks. Leadership should get out in front and not just follow. I encourage you if you want to find out more about me, the best way is to go to garyhooser.com. There’s a short video there called the Hooser Story. It tells you a little bit about who I am. I’ve been in Hawaii 40 years, graduated from Radford High School and UH West Oahu, my business and family background. And all the information on me is there. I’m fully transparent. My phone number and contact information is there. I’d love to have the help and support of the people of Maui. And I promise you that you can count on Gary Hooser. I have the experience and you can count on me.