Senate District 4 Election Questionnaire: Malama Solomon


What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?

My district embraces 28 distinct communities with very diverse priorities and concerns but every single resident is harmed by the cost and environmental impact of current energy and agricultural practices.

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.

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and what would you do about them?

See above.

If not covered above, what are your views on:

1. What can the state do to make the island’s power grid more compatible with solar energy?

PUC must mandate HELCO upgrade its energy grid. This would allow HELCO to allow more customers to install solar systems.

2. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for the military?

Yes if local farmers are going to benefit from this production.

3. Do you believe biofuel production for civilian electricity and transportation should be expanded on the Big Island?

My priority is lowering energy costs to consumers, period. If biofuel production can achieve this without subsidies or surcharges on consumers, then I’m in support because it could reduce exporting billions of dollars for fossil fuels.

4. Do you believe geothermal production should be expanded on the Big Island? If it is expanded, what can the state to do make geothermal production safer?

I support geothermal energy because it is a natural resource that belongs to all the people of Hawai’i and the production of this resource will reduce our cost of energy substantially, and it qualifies under federal law as a baseload power. It is with the combination of geothermal energy with solar, hydro, wind and ocean thermal that the State of Hawai’i can become energy self-sufficient and electrical vehicles an affordable reality. Use of state-of-the-art geothermal technology ensures safety.

5. Do you believe the state should invest in an undersea power cable to transport Big Island-generated energy 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.
6. What can be done to make the state, as a whole, use less energy?
No comment

7. Do you accept campaign contributions from HECO, HELCO, petroleum companies or other companies with a commercial interest in energy?

I have received contributions from green energy companies.

1. What can the state do to encourage more local food production for local markets?

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.

The State also needs to provide infrastructure funding, which I have supported, to make water and land accessible and affordable for agricultural production. The legislature must also continue to support the research efforts of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and its food science laboratory.

2. Do you support the labeling of genetically modified foods?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Solomon has opposed attempts to regulate and label GM foods at the state level.  In other forums, she has said that she supports GM labeling at the federal level.

3. Do you support increased regulation, at the state level, of genetically modified seed production?
Yes as it applies to pesticide use.

4. Do you support increased regulation, at the state level, of pesticides?
Yes if needed.

5. Do support regulation of pesticides and/or gm crops at the county level?
This issue is now in the courts.

Housing, employment and homelessness

1. How can the state encourage the building of affordable housing?

2. Historically, planning for housing and jobs on this island has not been conducted with energy
sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the long commute between more affordable housing in East Hawaii and jobs at the resort nodes in West Hawaii. What can the state do to put people and jobs closer together?

The state should provide more incentives to the private sector to encourage more affordable workforce housing for purchase and rentals.

3. How can the state get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?

The State must give the Counties more legal authority and funding to deal with the issues of homelessness.

Crime and prison reform

1. What’s the best way to relieve the overcrowding of Hawaii’s prison system?
Securing funding to focus more on prevention and rehabilitation rather than incarceration, and also giving more discretionary prerogatives to judges to recommend alternative sentencing.

2. Do you favor the building of a privately-owned prison in Hawaii? Would you support the building of such a prison on the Big Island?
Yes and Yes.

3. Do you favor the establishment of a Pu`uhonua with a program based on ho`oponopono within the state correctional system? If so, should that program be limited only to kanaka maoli or open to all prisoners?
Yes – and it should be open to all prisoners based on a judges recommendation. I co-sponsored a resolution about this during 27th Legislature that passed.

4. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?

I favor legalization but only if we can grow it so that we control the product from beginning to end. Also, laws applicable to alcohol use must apply to marijuana.


1. Do you support the current House and Senate leadership, or would you favor a change?
A change of leadership in the State Senate is inevitable as elected officials are running for other offices and some have opted for retirement.

2. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?

3 Do you support publicly funded elections?
I strongly support the public financing of campaigns. I was a co-sponsor of SB391 SD2 HD2 (26th Legislature) which provided for a pilot program in Hawai’i County for public funding for elections.

4. If elected, on which committees would you most want to serve?

Water-Land, which I currently Chair; Higher Education, Tourism and Ways And Means.


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