Star Advertiser’s 2018 Q&A: Tracy Arakaki, HD33

The following was from the 2018 candidate profiles from the Star Advertiser website, www.staradvertiser.com.

 

Full Name: Tracy Arakaki

Name on Ballot: Tracy Arakaki

Age: 51

Political Party: Democrat

Running For: Hawaii House of Representatives

District: 33

Email Address: arakakiforaiea@hawaii.rr.com

Current Job: Small business owner, independent television producer

Place of birth: Aiea

Campaign website: www.arakakiforaiea.com

Job history past 10 years:

Aiea Neighborhood Board, 17 years

News cameraman, 10-plus years

Screen printing business owner.

Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?

I ran in 2016, as a Democrat for the seat vacated by Rep. Mark Takai, who ran successfully for U.S. Congress. The current incumbent won with only 1 percent of the vote ahead of my campaign.

Other civic experience or community service?

Hawaii Democratic Party, Olelo TV, Honolulu Community Traffic Awareness Program

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

As a lifelong resident of Aiea, my family has lived in the district for over 60 years. We’ve seen changes both big and small, and know exactly the kinds of challenges we face as a state. My pledge is to represent my constituents with integrity and respect.

What makes you qualified to be a state representative?

As an elected member of the Aiea Neighborhood Board for 17 years, an award-winning news cameraman for over 10 years, and a small business owner since my teenage years, I have a unique perspective that will help me address the complex issues of our state.

Gov. Ige says he will once again propose increases to the state gas tax, vehicle weight tax and state registration fees to help pay for state road projects. Do you support his proposal?

No. More taxes hurt our already struggling working families. Transportation infrastructure is important, but I believe that these projects can be funded through a responsible budget crafted by those in the Legislature without increasing the burden on our taxpayers.

If the Legislature is again asked to extend Oahu’s half-percent excise tax surcharge to finance construction or operation of the rail system, would you support such an extension?

Yes. The issue at hand is whether or not we want a functional rail system that will serve its purpose, and I believe we must see it through. Before any extension, the city and HART must demonstrate that costs can be contained and that all tax monies are accountable.

Should the state play a role in cracking down on illegal vacation rentals in Hawaii?

Since these visitors are using our roads, our services, and enjoying our state, the companies that host them in these rentals should pay their fair share of taxes.

Should the Legislature require that police officers in Hawaii use “body cameras,” and help to fund the use of those cameras?

Yes. Body cameras not only help to protect citizens, but also the police department and the city, as it promotes accountability and helps to improve public trust in those trusted to protect us.

Dozens of police officers in Hawaii are disciplined each year for committing crimes or violating departmental policies, but little information is released about the officers or their cases. Do you think there needs to be greater public disclosure?

Yes. Many of the violations erode the public’s trust in our public safety capacity, and we must have accountability through information on these instances.

CIVIL BEAT Q&A: Tracy Arakaki – HD 33

Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.

The following came from Tracy Arakaki, a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives District 33, which covers Aiea. 

Go  to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

CANDIDATE FOR STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 33

TRACYARAKAKI
PARTY
Democrat
AGE
53
OCCUPATION
Small business owner
RESIDENCE
Aiea

WEBSITE

COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS/PRIOR OFFICES HELD

Aiea Neighborhood Board.

1. Should the Legislature be more transparent and accountable? What would you do, given how tough it can be for individual lawmakers to go against leadership, to bring about needed reform in areas like sexual harassment policies, lobbyist regulation, fundraising during session and televising and archiving all hearings?

Absolutely. Anyone serving in a position of public trust should be held to the highest standard. As an elected official, I will have a personal accountability and responsibility to those that elect me to speak truth to power when necessary, and ensure that our government is working for our people. This applies to ourselves as elected officials. I support Sunshine Laws and the right for individuals to support access to information from government, for the sake of transparency and accountability.

We need clear policies in place that have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and we as government should set the bar higher in making it safer to report incidents and also the proper training for managers in government to take correct action.

2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?

As any policy idea that ever floats through the halls of the Capitol, there’s always two sides to one coin. There’s a lot of pros and cons, but I personally think a citizens initiative process could certainly encourage more people to participate, which is always a challenge in our political environment.

I definitely support giving power back into the hands of everyday citizens in a very direct way, and many issues would not make it on the ballot otherwise because of special interests tipping the scale behind the scenes in our current method.

3. Hawaii has the most lopsided Legislature in the country, with no Republicans in the Senate and only five in the House. How would you ensure there is an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability for decisions? What do you see as the consequences of one-party control, and how would you address that?

As I work door-to-door I meet a lot of people who are independent or Republican, and usually more often than not we can find common ground. Regardless of the count of Republicans and Democrats, we must all be open to transparency and having free and open discussions. Even within the Democratic caucus there is a wide spectrum of opinions of many issues. At the end of the day whether or not a constituent is Republican or Democrat, I will work for all of my neighbors, and work to move our district and  state forward.

4. Would you support more frequent campaign finance reporting during election years, particularly before the primary? What other steps would you take to improve lobbying and financial disclosures?

Yes. I would also support legislation that would change how reporting information is available, so that everyday people can use the database to do their own research. Elected officials should hold themselves to the highest standards of transparency, especially when they are trusted by the public to do the same in other areas of government.

5. Hawaii’s public records law requires that records be made available whenever possible. Yet state agencies often resist release through delays and imposing excessive fees. What would you do to ensure the public has access to government records?

As a legislator I would work with the Office of Information Practices of Hawaii to see how we can streamline the process of releasing these records. I would support legislation that allows for certain technological transformations that would support and improve the process of providing this information. I support the access of open records of our government, and believe this is a direct way for the public to trust in their government and hold agencies and individuals accountable.

6. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers?

While I believe there has been a lot of effort to address the state’s unfunded liablities, there is still a looming threat that needs to be addressed. We must look at ways to incorporate hybrid plans, perhaps, as well as partial contribution plans.

We also need to implement policy at a larger level to address the rising cost of health. I support programs like Blue Zones Hawaii, which has an intersectional approach to health and well being that supports our people, helping them make healthier choices and optimally reducing their potential health costs by doing so.

7. Do you support changing the state constitution to allow taxing investment properties to fund the public schools? How would you implement it if it passes?

Yes. Hawaii should have a dedicated funding source for our public education system. One of my top priorities is investing in Hawaii’s future through its children, and there is no doubt that our kids deserve more. This kind of funding mechanism would transform our schools and help recruit and retain qualified teachers as well as improve retention by getting the best supplies, books, and technology the state can give. I would work with the DOE and the HSTA to ensure that this funding is responsibly allocated and expended.

8. Illegal vacation rentals have proliferated throughout Hawaii. The state is not collecting tax revenue on many of these properties and residents worry about overcrowded neighborhoods and other problems. Do you see this as a problem given Hawaii’s booming visitor industry and what would you propose to do about it?

It is a huge problem. I support the current push for stronger regulation on these types of homes. We have a bad situation with the shortfall of truly affordable rental units, and we see that many people are permanently renting out their homes primarily as vacation rental units, while our local people are still having a hard time find a decent rental.

While I am not against those who want to rent out a room in their home to transients, we must have higher standards on reporting and accountability, especially from the big box retailers that are listing these illegal units on their site with little to no enforcement from our state.

9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?

I see a lot of value in holding a con con. I definitely support giving the people power, but I have some reservations about the possibility of special interests interpolating issues. We definitely need to continue having this discussion, and also wait to see if voters believe there should be a con con.

10. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?

The rising sea level is not a myth. It is happening and our state should be working on a long-term plan to mitigate some of the more devastating predictions on how the environment will change, even if not during my lifetime.

At the Legislature, I will support more investments in renewable and clean energy, bills that support and encourage recycling from curbside to commercial, and policies that invite and expand current efforts for transportation alternative to traditional carbon fuel, such as the new yydrogen refueling station that just opened in the neighboring district.

11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?

The cost of living is burdensome to all of Hawaii’s residents, from kupuna to working families to college kids and more. Our children shouldn’t have to look to the mainland for a good financial quality of life. Our kupuna should not have to choose between medicine and food. As their representative, Aiea voters can expect that I will be fighting for them and their share, and to improve our communities and our opportunities. From seeking to increase the state’s truly affordable housing, to ensuring the state honors its obligation for drug coverage matching funds, to fighting for better pay for all workers. I will fight for them and their future.

Arakaki receives endorsements from UNITE HERE Local 5 and the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters

Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters
Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters
UNITE HERE LOCAL 5
UNITE HERE LOCAL 5

Last week, members of both UNITE HERE Local 5 and the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters endorsed Tracy Arakaki for Hawaii State House District 33, to which Tracy stated:

“During my time in the news industry as an award-winning cameraman, I was also a member of IBEW. I learned the importance of protecting workers’ rights, fair compensation, and the contributions of our union brothers and sisters that work to stabilize and support the working families of our state.

I am honored to receive the support of thousands of hotel and service workers, as well as the carpenters who are integral to fixing our housing crisis, as I seek to be the voice of families in our district, many belonging to unions.”

 

MORE ABOUT UNITE HERE LOCAL 5 (LINK)

MORE ABOUT HAWAII REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS (LINK)

Star Advertiser Endorses Arakaki!

The Honolulu Star Advertiser Editorial Board announced their support for candidate for Hawaii State House District 33, Tracy Arakaki, in the following endorsement:

> District 33 (Halawa- Aiea-Newtown): Here’s another winner-take-all Democratic race: freshman legislator Sam Kong faces Tracy Arakaki, in a rematch from two years ago. In 2014, the rivals remained locked in a tight contest all night, before Kong ultimately prevailed.

The affable Kong is a unique candidate, in that he neither accepts campaign donations nor seeks endorsements. His positions, also, are more inclined to stake out causes to make a statement. Arakaki, meanwhile, seems to reflect well the views of this district and its Democratic base. Arakaki, a former TV news cameraman who now owns a production company, deserves a chance to channel his energy for this community, which faces traffic and infrastructure redevelopment challenges.

###

Statement on Passing of Congressman Mark Takai

Tracy Arakaki, candidate for Hawaii State House District 33, offered  the following statement on the passing of Congressman Mark Takai.

I am deeply saddened to hear the passing of Congressman Mark Takai, who represented our district with energy and aloha. Our community and our state is better because Mark knew how to bring people together and get thins done. For years I watched Mark fight for our community and most recently for Hawaii as a state in congress, and I have always been inspired by his service and dedication to the people that he represented. I send my aloha and prayers to his family during this difficult time. May he rest in peace.

In the News – Star Advertier July 8, 2016

by Susan Essoyan
Honolulu Star Advertiser July 8, 2016

“Aiea Neighborhood Board member Tracy Arakaki has clocked 100 miles walking door to door in hopes of beating state Rep. Sam Kong in the race for the 33rd House District seat, after falling short by 85 votes last time.

Kong prevailed in a three-way race in the 2014 Democratic primary to replace Rep. Mark Takai, who moved on to the U.S. House of Representatives. This time Arakaki, 52, and Kong, 56, are running head to head in the Democratic primary for the district that includes Halawa, Aiea and Newtown.

Kong had made unsuccessful bids for the seat as a Republican before switching parties and running as a Democrat. An affable part-time cabdriver, he was also well known in the community as a longtime owner-operator of the Aiea Florist shop.

Even as the incumbent, Kong is an unconventional candidate. The only money he has spent on his campaign is $500 of his own, on banners that, he said, “I can use forever.”

Added Kong, “I accept no donations and I seek no endorsements. That way, my constituents know I’m beholden to no one. … Everyone complains about how politicians are bought or influenced by money and outside powers that be or whatever. I don’t want to be like that.”

Arakaki owned a screen-printing shop for 20 years and is a former news cameraman for KHNL and KHON television stations, which he said gives him a “unique perspective” on news and what happens “downstream” after legislators pass laws.

He now has his own television production company and does independent projects. His bid for higher office follows 17 years as a volunteer elected to the neighborhood board.

“My life has been devoted to a lot of community service,” Arakaki said. “To become a state representative, to me it’s the ultimate, helping to be their voice at the state level.”

The two candidates stand far apart on the issues. Arakaki is a firm Democrat while Kong follows a more conservative line.

“My family has been lifelong Democrats,” Arakaki said. “I was the former precinct president for the Democratic Party for Aiea District. Strong Democratic values is what I believe in. I didn’t change parties. I’ve always been a Democrat.”

Both candidates consider traffic a top issue for their district. Kong opposed the rail tax extension because the costs had become a moving target and he didn’t trust the numbers.

“When nobody’s speaking the truth, it’s hard to agree, to say, ‘I’m going to allow you to do this based on lies,’” he said. “You tell me the truth and I’ll be willing to work with you.”

Arakaki says he would have supported the rail tax extension because cutting off the project at Middle Street makes no sense.

“It does no one any good by stopping it short and not supporting rail to make sure it does go where people need,” said Arakaki, who has been endorsed by the Carpenters Union.

As a freshman legislator, Kong tried to repeal the recycling fee levied on cans and bottles, which encourages people to recycle beverage containers for refunds rather than discarding them as trash. Arakaki supports the recycling system.

“I tried to work on cost-of-living issues,” Kong said. “For example, eliminating even the bottle tax. I was thinking of just starting simple, by eliminating certain programs just to see how that would help our own bottom line for the consumer, but it didn’t go anywhere.”

Kong voted against a bill prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people under 21 and against establishing a medical marijuana program. He said he figures that if young people can fight and die for their country, they ought to be able to light a cigarette. His added that his wife insisted that he oppose medical marijuana.

Arakaki would have supported both bills. He said raising the smoking age to 21 from 18 makes it harder for teens to get cigarettes and might have kept him from starting the habit. He quit smoking in his late 20s, not long after his aunt died of lung cancer.

“As a former smoker, if the age was 21, it would have been a lot harder for me to have acquired it, instead of it being at 18,” he said.

Arakaki also supports medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. “Medical marijuana has its validity as medicine,” he said. “I know folks who have had MS and who had cancer, and it would have been beneficial to them.”

The winner of the Democratic primary will be elected outright because no Republican has filed to run for House District 33.”

Launch of New Website!

Aloha!

Welcome to our newly launched campaign website, where the latest news and information from my campaign will be updated regularly. I hope that you will find information useful to you, as it relates to my candidacy to represent my beloved home of Aiea.

I look forward to meeting you during this exciting campaign.

Mahalo,

Tracy Arakaki
Candidate, Hawaii State House – District 33