CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: Terez Amato – Senate Dist. 6
By Maui Now Staff
Terez Amato is a candidate for the State Senate, District 6 seat. She is one of two Democrats running for the seat, and one of four individuals identified as candidates in the race on the 2014 ballot.
The complete list of candidates (in alphabetical order) includes: Terez M Amato (D); Roz Baker (D); Jared P “Pika” Dubois (R); and Bronson Kekahuna Kaahui (L).
Full Name: Terez Amato
Date and location of Birth: February 1976, San Francisco, CA
Current residence: Kīhei
Occupation: Small Business Owner
Elected offices held, if any: (blank)
Education: St. Anthony Jr./Sr. High School, Wailuku, Maui ‘93
Community Involvement: (blank)
Family status: Mother of four teenagers
1. What is the number one issue facing the district you plan to represent? Why do you feel it warrants special attention and what will you do to resolve the issue? If you have more than one item, please elaborate.
Answer: The primary issues in my district include the effects of pollution and toxins on Maui’s economy, environment, and our health; ensuring quality accessible healthcare to the people of Maui; and standing up against the influence of corporate and lobbyist money in our government. The people of South and West Maui deserve a Senator who works only for them, not for corporations and lobbyists. My priority is to advocate for the people of Maui at the state level and to ensure their needs are put first.
Right now, the people of South and West Maui are not being represented in the State Senate; corporate special interests are. When corporations and lobbyists are able to influence our elected officials at the expense of the people, then we must ask who our elected officials are truly serving. Maui needs a Senator who is working for the people, not for corporations and lobbyists.
I have made a solid commitment to be open, transparent and accessible. The people of Maui deserve honesty from their Senator. When Senator Baker takes tens of thousands of dollars from corporations and lobbyists then says it doesn’t affect her decisions, she just isn’t telling us the truth. She has taken too much money from special interests to represent the people of Maui. Corporate money and influence and the long association with lobbyists who raise tens of thousands of dollars for her have shaped her positions, policies, and her agenda. Our Senator is supposed to be working for us, but she is not even being honest with us. Corporations and lobbyists buy access and influence with all that money, and a politician who takes that money isn’t working for the people anymore, they are working to protect the interests of their big donors.
That’s what’s going on in our government in Honolulu and the politicians and lobbyists don’t want us to know how it works. They want to keep doing business as usual, then persuade us to elect them again every four years with slick ads and shiny mailers paid for by their corporate donors.
I have made a commitment never to take money from corporations or lobbyists, so the people of Maui will always know I work only for them.
Having owned a small business while trying to raise a family, I understand the burden we all face when corporations pollute Maui’s air and water and don’t pay their fair share. Our environment is the foundation of our entire economy—from tourism to agriculture to health. Corporate money in politics leads to bad environmental policy, which damages our economy and health. Without strong policies protecting the environment, we lose tourism, jobs, and bear rising healthcare costs.
There’s a great deal at stake in this election. We must ask ourselves: do we want to make the same old choice and elect a Senator who takes money from corporations and works for them, or do we want a Senator who works for the people? I want to work for the people.
2. What are your thoughts on Genetically Modified Organisms and do you foresee a compromise in the longstanding debate between agricultural use of GMOs and environmental concerns? (500 words or less)
Answer: Like over 90% of voters I believe we have the right to know what is in the food we eat. Roz Baker doesn’t believe the people of Hawai‘i have the right to know what’s in our food. Senator Baker has not been honest with the people she is supposed to represent. She killed the GMO labeling bill in the Senate and she is not telling us the truth about it. She tries to hide it from her constituents because the majority of us want to know what is in the food we eat and feed to our children. She has taken tens of thousands of dollars from corporations like Monsanto and their lobbyists, yet she tells us she hasn’t “taken money from Monsanto in a number of years.” This kind of misleading statement from someone we should be able to trust is exactly why Maui needs a new Senator.
Our environment is the foundation of our economy. Bad environmental policy leads to a failing economy and rising healthcare costs. We have a responsibility to protect our greatest resources—our land, air, and water—from toxins and pollution. Working to preserve one parcel of land is great, but meanwhile, toxins and pollution are contaminating our drinking water and killing our reefs. Our people are breathing in toxic smoke and fumes from an antiquated coal burning factory, and we are still too heavily dependent upon fossil fuel when Hawai‘i should be leading the way in alternative energy sources.
I do believe there is an appropriate way forward for agriculture here in Hawai‘i that combines working with science and nature and that enhances, supports, and maximizes our resources.
***Candidate spotlight segments were compiled as a public service to further educate and inform Maui voters about the upcoming primary election on August 9, 2014, and the general election on November 4, 2014. The questionnaires were distributed via mail following the primary election candidate filing deadline for select races affecting Maui County. The responses do not reflect the opinion or position of Maui Now or Pacific Media Group.