If elected, what is your highest priority for improving education in Hawai'i?
All levels of education in Hawaii need investment and fundamental change. As Governor, I will collaborate with all the parties who contribute to our education system to always put the interests of the child first. Although Furlough Fridays was one of Hawaii's darkest episodes, it did spark greater community interest, involvement, and responsibility for education. I will never forget how we rallied at the Capitol on the first Furlough Friday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buWfdBQ8guk
In my education plan, we will decentralize decision making to the school level and immediately incorporate the Superintendent of Schools into my cabinet. My goal is to empower principals, teachers, staff and parents with skills, flexibility and authority so they can make their schools the very best.
At the early childhood level I will institute cabinet level leadership for early childhood initiatives and utilize public-private partnerships to build a universal network of childcare and preschool. Additionally, state government will serve as the first example for a family-friendly workplace that accommodates the demands of young children.
The UH system - Hawaii's most underutilized resource - needs to be integrated with the economic and social goals of the state. In my technology plan, I propose better integration of the university system with business to drive economic diversification. Under this plan, there will be closer collaboration with the private sector to help leverage millions in federally funded research and development activity into products and services that can seed world-class technology companies in Hawaii that will stay in Hawaii.
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?
Right away, we will use Hawaii's federal dollars - stimulus and otherwise - to secure and create immediate jobs, build modern infrastructure, help small businesses weather the recession, and support technology and innovation, which will help create jobs and opportunities for the next generation. The state can do much more to deploy these funds.
Remember, the official name of the federal stimulus was the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act." The whole idea is not just to immediately inject dollars into the economy to preserve and create jobs ("Recovery"), but also to make sure that the injection of dollars is directed toward the new economy of clean energy, green jobs, environmental restoration, the development of our human capital through education, and revitalizing small businesses ("Reinvestment"). My highest priority is using every single resource we can garner to improve the economy now with a clear eye toward the future. I encourage everyone to read the plan we developed over a year and a half called "A New Day in Hawaii." You can read it at: http://neilabercrombie.com/index.php/issues/
Which industries should we be investing in for Hawai'i's future?
We should be investing in clean energy, food production, technology and innovation, health care, culture and the arts. Our biggest industry, tourism, will thrive and become more sustainable if we invest in those things - if we invest in ourselves and sustaining our island values. We cannot continue to focus only on the short term and consume our resources faster than they are replenished. If we continue on this path, there will be nothing left for future generations and we will no longer be the Hawaii that we all cherish.
One of the priorities of an Abercrombie Administration will be to become more self-sufficient through energy independence and food security. Hawaii needs to stop exporting dollars just to import energy and food, and the only way to do that is to develop our own sources here in Hawaii.
We can do these things now. We have tremendous talent right here in Hawaii if we come together as a community and if we each take individual responsibility for being part of the solution. That's the Hawaii I came to 51 years ago, and that's the Hawaii we will be.
If elected, what is your highest priority for strengthening local food production in Hawai'i?
We have to make food a priority and we have to make agriculture economically feasible. In my plan, "A New Day in Hawaii," I have outlined initiatives to bring about an Agricultural Renaissance in Hawaii. You can access it here:
We will protect and properly utilize agricultural lands, repair our irrigation systems, increase the market for locally grown food, support small farms and encourage individual and community gardening efforts. We need to encourage everyone to be a part of this effort. The choices we make as consumers, parents, and citizens will have much to do with our ability to reach our goals.
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?
Becoming independent from foreign oil is Hawaii's most important economic endeavor. This will recapture the billions of dollars we send out of the state for imported oil and it will create good jobs. Now is the time for bold, swift action.
My energy plan calls for the creation of an independent Hawaii Energy Authority to implement our state's clean energy policy more swiftly. We also must ensure that all people share in the challenges and benefits of our moves toward energy independence in a way that is fair and equitable. We also need to double our efforts to encourage energy efficiency, and government must lead by example. I encourage you to read my energy plan at:
We also need to start planning for climate change and the way that it will change our shorelines in the years to come. We ignore this problem at our peril. I address climate change in my plan for the environment and natural resources, which can be viewed here:
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?
The first thing we have to do is care. We can't just push people from place to place and from agency to agency and wish their hardships go away. These are people - our neighbors - and I believe that government in Hawaii can exercise a lot more compassion. Caring means having a plan, working collaboratively with agencies, rebuilding our safety net, creating innovative policies that help people build financial assets so they can become more self-sufficient, and working with faith-based and other community groups to create culturally relevant programs. And we need to focus on the very young. I was part of the team that created the Healthy Start program in the 1980's - a nationally recognized program to help at-risk mothers and their children. The program has been dismantled. It must be fully restored and expanded.
Please read my plan for housing, families and human services at:
I would address housing affordability in Hawaii the same way I approached the lack of military housing when I was in Congress. For many years, there was never enough housing on base for military families, and nearly two-thirds of what existed was substandard. In Congress, I worked with Republican Congressman Joel Hefley, to craft a public-private model for housing that led to the development of thousands of high quality, energy efficient homes for our military families. It resulted in one of the largest solar powered communities in the world, created local jobs for decades, and was paid for with private money. We can do the same for our residents.
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?
Too often, politicians exploit fear and stereotypes for votes, leaving people cynical and demoralized. It's frustrating, but it doesn't give us the right to shun our responsibilities as citizens. It is no secret that our campaign is challenging the status quo, so we have called on every person to do more than just vote. Active participation is everyone's kuleana and the only way we can change politics-as-usual. We have done our best to unite a diverse coalition by practicing aloha - respect for all even when we disagree, focusing on issues rather than personal attacks, and acting with courage, humility, and trust for one another.
Would you/have you sent your children to Hawai'i's public or public charter schools? Why or why not?
We have no children, but I would have sent them to public school. I went to public school in New York and then later at the University of Hawaii, and those experiences unlocked every opportunity for me, all the way to becoming chair of the House Subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Army and Air Force. I owe everything to my public education. I believe in public education and I stand side-by-side with Hawaii's educators. As Governor I want you to hold me personally responsible for restoring public confidence in our schools.
What actions have you taken to help address the needs of the poor or homeless in your community?
Given my schedule in recent years, I have found that the most effective way to personally assist people in need is to continue my lifelong advocacy on their behalf in making law and policy, and by making monetary contributions to the many worthy causes that help people in our communities. One of our favorite programs that my wife and I have supported is the YWCA's "Dress for Success" project that helps women find jobs and build confidence.
What actions have you taken in your home or office to conserve energy and/or cut greenhouse gas emissions?
My Congressional office was one of the first to participate in a recycling program and later in a compost program for all food waste. In my personal life, we've done our best to conserve and be energy efficient. For years, I have utilized reusable shopping bags. We recycle everything we can, turn off the lights when we don't need them, hang dry much of our clothing, and have CFLs, solar fans and a solar hot water heater installed in my home. We also buy local and organic produce as much as possible to reduce transportation impacts on the environment.
What locally grown products or foods have you purchased in the last month?
My wife Nancie and I have been members of Kokua Market since it began and we regularly shop there and at other stores that sell local products. Nancie also regularly shops at the KCC Farmer's Market for our fruits and vegetables.
Anything else you would like to add?
Over the last year and a half, I have had conversations all across our islands to better understand the challenges facing our families and the opportunities we can create together. This campaign is not about forcing ideas on the public. It is not about me. This campaign is about the kind of future we all want for Hawaii. It is about learning from each other and embracing the kind of leadership we need to break away from the status quo.
And we have a tremendous opportunity with President Barack Obama in the White House. As Governor, I will utilize my close relationships with the President and my long familiarity and many good friends in Congress to benefit our state. The Office of Governor, for me, will be the culmination of a lifetime of public service. People want leadership that listens, that makes decisions based on our common values, and that will always stand up for the public's best interests.
I have said that we need to rediscover a public conscience and develop a sense of civic courage. I would like to thank Kanu Hawaii for helping to lead this charge. We have everything we need right here in the islands, and it begins with our people and the values that have brought us through so many challenges. Hawaii must continue to be a place where our diversity defines us rather than divides us.
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