Marlene (Nachbar) Hapai (R) - House District 4

Sep 9, 2010 by Citizen Challenge

If elected, what is your highest priority for improving education in Hawai'i?

Hawaii's educational system has much potential and before we consider replacing it with other models, changes can be made guaranteeing improvement. I propose three major changes that could positively impact this system. First, one of education's major problems is there is no official connection between our lower and higher education departments and our executive branch of government. All other departments are represented on the Governor's cabinet, but education (which uses one-third of the State's budget). I propose placing both the DOE State Superintendent and the UH President (or a comparable representative) on the Governor's cabinet. Many of education's problems could be avoided by this direct communication. Second, a change in how the Board of Education is selected could make a difference in the quality of decisions made on behalf of lower education. I propose adopting the previous model used to select members for the University's Board of Regents in which interested parties submitted applications to be considered to the Office of Boards and Commissions, the Governor nominated individuals best suited to the position and the Senate confirmed these nominations. This process insures qualified individuals are selected. Third, I recommend the DOE consider re-doing their budget using a bottom-up model where needs of teachers and students in the classroom are met first and higher levels of support then put in place to champion their needs. The historic top-down model of budgeting has consistently (both in higher and lower education) left the classrooms receiving less than what they need (what's left!).

Do you support evaluation, tenure, and compensation for teachers and principals linked to student improvement?


If elected, what is your highest priority for improving jobs and the economy in Hawai'i?

I propose using a managed growth and development model for Hawaii's future. The use of wise resource management can lead to greater productivity and increased revenue, an increase in small businesses (who serve as our economic backbone) and more jobs. I see our growth in the following areas that would generate more revenue and more jobs and would seek funding to help these areas flourish:
- Agriculture (diversified, niche, value-added)/Agritourism
- Eco-tourism - preservation and celebration of cultural and historic sites and the natural environment (flora, fauna, geology, ocean sites)
- Human Services - affordable housing projects, elderly care homes, affordable health care facilities
- Sustainable Energy - solar, geothermal, wind, water
- Technology - diversifying our technology base and opening Hawaii to global possibilities in economic, educational and diplomatic partnerships

I also propose the development of a needs-based budget incorporating a growth-related community funding model for more equitable distribution and to be pro-active instead of re-active in putting in needed infrastructure at the onset of development, instead of having to solve major problems created from ignoring these needs.

Which industries should we be investing in for Hawai'i's future?

For those who have had the opportunity to leave Hawaii, visit elsewhere and return, Hawaii is truly a paradise. If we want to keep it that way, we need to work for balance and maintain our natural beauty and unique culture for visitors; invest in agriculture to insure sustainability as well as share it via agritourism; and invest in high technology industries that are clean and enable us to be players in the global market.

If elected, what is your highest priority for strengthening local food production in Hawai'i?

I would like to see more resources invested in the agricultural business incubator program that has already been established in Hawaii through the University of Hawaii system to enable all counties to fully benefit from this model that identifies markets and creates educational programs to prepare students for these markets, as well as has these students and UH professors work with small businesses to supply products for these markets thereby creating business for themselves. This model can be used for local as well as exported food production, but should start at home, here in Hawaii. As Hawaii is geographically isolated, it would be wise to satisfy our own market first.

Other successful models should also be invested in that have already shown potential such as the KTA Mountain Apple Brand model which has provided a market through the collaboration of many local businesses/farmers with a local supermarket and its branch stores. It is important for local food producers to work collaboratively to insure a sustainable Hawaii. They will need support and it must be made a top priority for the state, its various counties and those responsible for agriculture's success representing our state.

Do you support stronger measures to keep prime agricultural lands in agriculture?


If elected, what is your highest priority for addressing energy and climate change?

During the gas crisis of the 1970's, Hawaii invested in much research to determine alternative energy sources available in Hawaii. A multitude of geothermal "wells" were identified with temperatures suitable for geothermal energy use and the production of electricity. Also, OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) studies were done to show how we can generate electricity using changes in temperature of ocean water. Solar energy, wind energy, and the energy of moving water have also proved to be able to supply our energy needs. Much of the research of the '70's sat on the shelves as we waited for the cost of petroleum to rise and these alternative energy sources to become economically competitive. This has now happened and it is time to invest in the geothermal, solar, wind and hydrothermal energy sources we have locally available. Today's technologies also offer all of these available energy-generating sources to us in much cleaner form than petroleum, thus reducing omissions accelerating climate change. Investing in developing and implementing the use of these technologies would be a high priority for me as a legislator to address both sustainable energy sources and reduce greenhouse effect gas emissions.

Do you support the continuation of the State solar investment tax credits, including the refundable credits which allow low-income people to participate?


If elected, what is your highest priority for addressing poverty and homelessness in Hawai'i?

Poverty and homelessness are social and community issues. There are many programs in place that are successful and could be given greater support. We need to know what they are, what support they can presently provide and make sure those needing help know where to go. We also need to develop programs that give these individuals hope for their futures, possibly a "Pathway to Employment" program that recognizes each individual's capabilities, and provides training and beginning jobs that lead to jobs with greater responsibilities. This will not only provide hope, but raise their self esteem and make them feel good about themselves and who they are. We also need to work on programs for homeowners to make wise financial moves to eliminate foreclosures leading to greater homelessness in our state, as well as secure unused homes for homeless placement.

Do you support the "housing first" model which places the homeless into permanent housing (vs. temporary shelters) as a first step toward stabilizing their lives?


Can you give examples of how your current political campaign has/will model island values of aloha and kuleana?

We are running a very positive campaign. There are 4 contenders for the same position, but I have complemented the others in forums as I feel we all have good things to offer and I am pleased to see so many stepping forward to give voters a choice. We have been encouraged by those making these forums and debates possible to continue to work together after the election to implement many of the good ideas we all have. I will do this no matter what the election outcome as making positive change for our people is our collective responsibility.

Would you/have you sent your children to Hawai'i's public or public charter schools? Why or why not?

My daughter graduated from Honokaa High School and UH Hilo, both public schools. My son graduated from St. Joseph High School (went there his Jr. and Sr. year after being at Waiakea, Stephenson and Roosevelt - all public, but we moved in his Jr.year). He is now at Chaminade. I found that smaller schools worked best for my son. We tried the UH system, but he felt more comfortable at the smaller college. Also, Chaminade provided some financial assistance. Having taught for 30 years in Hawaii's public schools and received two degrees from UH, I am a firm believer in them.

What actions have you taken to help address the needs of the poor or homeless in your community?

While serving on our local school board, the parish priest shared the poverty he was witnessing. I proceeded to speak with the person that was running the parish food pantry only to find out that the number of families coming to them for food had increased from 30 to over a hundred within a couple of months. I then started a board-run "Cans That Care" program with the school dividing the grade levels into 4 groups and having each child bring one can of food one week each month. This program increased the food supply for the church's pantry 30%.

What actions have you taken in your home or office to conserve energy and/or cut greenhouse gas emissions?

We have replaced all our incandescent bulbs with curled fluorescent bulbs in both our home, office and family business. Our new car also gets 40 miles per gallon, reducing the amount of fuel needed. We also use a paloma water heater that heats water as it is being used and does not store heated water thereby decreasing the amount of fuel used. We are also conscious of using only necessary lighting. This has been a win-win situation with our business electric bill cut in half and our energy use (and bill) at home being way lower than many other families.

What locally grown products or foods have you purchased in the last month?

I regularly buy most of my fruits and vegetables from our local farmer's market. I also purchase grass-fed local beef and fresh local fish at our local supermarket.

Anything else you would like to add?

My platform addresses the urgency to reform the legislature, economy and education with a reduction in legislature size improving efficiency and reducing cost; establishing term limits allowing fresh ideas to surface; and eliminating closed-door meetings by applying the Sunshine Law. Economically, I will work toward adopting a balanced need-based budget incorporating a growth-related community funding model for more equitable distribution and reduce health care costs. I will support development of a collaborative DOE public, charter and private school model incorporating the strengths of each to meet the needs of all Hawaii's students. With 40 years in Hawaii's educational system, work in agriculture and small business and experience as a regent helping manage 10% of the State's budget, I am ready to put this to work for all Hawaii's people.


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