Politics — A Review Of The State Senate District 4 Race

By Alan McNarie

When veteran Democrats Lorraine Inouye and Malama Solomon were squared off in the 2012 Senate District 4 primary, Solomon scratched out a victory by only about 70 votes. Two years later, Inouye has high hopes for the rematch. Solomon’s had a rough term. She was one of the chief supporters the now-repealed Public Land Development Corporation, which scores of testifiers excoriated as a corporate takeover of public assets, but which Solomon defended as “The Yosemite Model — which incorporates the National Park Mission Statement, protecting the great beauty and environmental integrity of this national treasure, while providing recreational choices, employment and income generation to support essential health and safety services and caretaking.” She was also criticized for her verbal abuse of testifiers, prompting a public dressing-down from normally mild-mannered Sen. Josh Green. Then her remarks in favor of removing whales and sea turtles from the endangered species list went viral.

Solomon wrote that the most important issues in her diverse district are the cost and environmental impact of current energy and agricultural practices, by which, she says, “every single resident is harmed.

“If we can slow down the export of billions of dollars annually for oil and food, we will have the money needed to invest in diversifying our economy and protecting Hawai’i’s natural resources, and also to provide the programs, services, facilities and opportunities our communities deserve.”

She supports geothermal expansion, and says she will support biofuels, even for the military, “if local farmers can benefit from this production,” and for local utilities if they can be produced “without subsidies or surcharges on consumers.” Re the proposed undersea powercable to O`ahu: “I believe our priority is to address affordable energy self-sufficiency for the Island of Hawai’i first, and only then should the state invest in an undersea power cable providing the cost-benefit can be passed onto all consumers statewide.”

Re: food: “The State Department of Agriculture needs to be restructured to focus on regulation, invasive species and customs inspections, and the Agricultural Development Corporation has a more entrepreneurial responsibility to expand food production whose focus is to build more capacity in the private sector,” Solomon believes.

When asked if she supported the labeling of genetically modified foods, Solomon wrote “Yes.”  But Honolulu Civil Beat, writing about the hearing for a GMO labeling bill in which Solomon clashed with Green, reported that she said she supported GMO labeling “only at the federal level.” On the questionnaire, she also said she supported pesticide regulation “if needed” and GMO seed regulation “as it applies to pesticide use.”

To reduce prison overcrowding, she suggests “Securing funding to focus more on prevention and rehabilitation rather than incarceration, and also giving more discretionary prerogatives to judges to recommend alternative sentencing. She would support a private prison on the Big Island She also supports a prison pu`honua program that’s “open to all prisoners based on a judges recommendation.”

Lorraine R. Inouye gave perhaps the briefest answers of any candidate who responded to our questionnaires.

When asked what the state could do to make the island’s power grid more compatible with solar energy, Inouye replied, “We already have a solar energy protocol, however it also includes other renewable such as wind an geothermal.”

She doesn’t support using Big Island farmland to produce biofuel for either military or civilian use. She does support geothermal expansion, but volunteered no ideas about how to meet the community’s safety concerns. She isn’t in favor of an undersea cable to O`ahu. She supports funding for solar panels on state buildings.

She supports the idea of low interest loans to farmers to encourage food production for local consumers. She supports GM food labeling and regulation of food and pesticides at state levels, and suggests, “But provide funding that was cutback four years ago in the Department of Agriculture’s budget so inspectors can do their job.” She doesn’t believe the counties have “the expertise and funding necessary to do the job presently performed by USDA and the state DOA.”

She believes the state should provide “incentives” to encourage developers to provide affordable housing.

She offers no specific suggestion for alleviating the state’s overcrowded prisons, but suggests and “enquiry” or a “task force” to make recommendations to the legislature. Asked about the possibility of a privately owned prison, she replied that it “depends if the state is still a part of the system.” She supports a pu’uhonua as part of the correctional system, and believes it should be “open to all.” She opposes the legalization of marijuana.

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