Senator Mike Gabbard: State Senate Candidate District 19

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  • Name: Mike Gabbard
  • Current job: State Senator, District 19
  • Residence: How long you’ve lived in the district: 6 years
  • Background: What qualifies you for the position? What else have you run for? Have you been in public office before and if so, what position?

What qualifies me to be a member of the State Senate is my desire to sincerely serve the people of my district and state. Working with my colleagues, we’ve finally resolved some of the broken promises of the last 30 years, such as Kualaka’i Parkway (North/South Rd.) and the new UH West Oahu campus. I also hold monthly community meetings to allow constituents to voice their concerns.


I ran for Honolulu City Council – District 1 in 2002, Congressional District 2 in 2004, and State Senate – District 19 in 2006.

I served on the Honolulu City Council from 2003 to 2005 and the State Senate from 2006 to the present.

  • Major issues: What are the biggest issue in your district/state and your proposed solutions?

Our tough economic situation is taking its toll on the residents of District 19. That’s why I strongly support projects such as UH West Oahu and rail transit to get people back to work.

Our state’s biggest problem is our dependence on fossil fuels. Spending $5-7 billion a year on foreign oil is wastefully stupid.  As the Senate’s Energy & Environment Chair, I’m committed to helping keep that money in Hawai’i by accelerating our use of sun, wind, ocean thermal, wave, and geothermal energy in order to meet our goal of 70% of our energy needs through clean renewable sources by 2030.

Budget philosophy: What is your budget philosophy? Do you foresee increases in revenue through tax hikes and fees or do you believe in cutting spending?

I do support cutting spending to decrease government waste. To this end, I’d support legislation to call for an audit of the Department of Education.  At the same time, we need to be careful about what kind of cuts we make. For example, cutting funding for agricultural inspections at our airports and vector control was penny wise and pound foolish.

I do see the possibility of additional targeted fee increases or tax increases, but I’m hopeful that we’ll avoid a general excise tax hike.

Taxes and fees: Do you believe Hawaii’s taxes should be lowered or increased? If you do plan to raise taxes and fees, which specific taxes or fees would you increase? Or would you sign a pledge that says you will not raise taxes?

There was a proposal this past session to raise the GET, but I was happy it failed. I’m opposed to raising the GET because of the hardship it would cause our small businesses and residents during this very difficult economic times.

Rail: If the city has difficulty raising enough revenue for the rail, would you support state tax support for the rail project?

The state is already committing revenue from the GET surcharge for the rail project. I support this commitment, because this important public works project will give people another transportation option and also create jobs. The rail transit project and transit oriented development will make the surrounding communities more walkable and be an integral part of the development of the City of Kapolei. I’m hopeful that as our economy slowly gets back on the right track, we’ll have the needed local funding from the GET surcharge and federal dollars to make this happen. At this point, I would not vote in favor of additional state taxes for rail transit.

Legalized Gambling: Do you believe gambling should be legalized in Hawaii in any form and if so, in what form?

I’m opposed to all forms of gambling in the state, based on the negative impact it would have on our crime rates and upon those who are our most vulnerable.

Public Education: What are your plans to support the public education system while ensuring accountability and results for our students? Do you support an appointed or elected school board?

Our state was fortunate to have recently won $75 million in federal stimulus funds through the Race to the Top program. I will continue supporting legislation that keeps us on course to meeting the goals and reform measures spelled out in our application- including provisions which call for increased accountability. Additionally, we need to ensure that the construction of new schools keeps up with development in West Oahu. I voted in support of legislation this past session which will put the appointed school board question to voters.

Economic Growth: What are your plans to promote long-term economic growth for Hawaii?

The renewable energy industry has the potential to be huge for the future of our economy. With the goals set by the Hawai’i Clean Energy Initiative to meet 70% of our energy needs through renewables, we have the potential to be the world leader for the research, development, and installation of renewable energy. This industry can help create thousands of jobs through the expansion of existing companies and the creation of new ones. Additionally, as more and more companies take advantage of renewable energy systems, they can reduce their energy costs and invest that capital in other ways.

Crime: What is your solution to making Oahu a safer place to live and visit?

Since taking office, I’ve worked closely with HPD’s community policing team on issues such as speeding, fireworks, illegal gambling, graffiti, and drug dealing in our community. Additionally, I’ve championed legislation such as Act 98 of 2010, which prevents a property owner from being held liable for civil damages for any injuries (or death) that a criminal suffers in the commission of a violent crime.

Second Amendment: Would you support concealed carry or more freedom for law abiding firearms owners, do you feel the current laws should remain in place, or do you believe stricter gun laws should be in place?

I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I’d vote for legislation to allow concealed carry and additional freedoms for law abiding firearms owners in our state.

Homeless: What is your solution to homelessness?

The state should continue investing resources in transitional and emergency shelters. We should also provide adequate funding appropriated at the state level to preserve our “safety net” services. Finally, the state and city should form more partnerships with the faith community and encourage them to get involved in helping solve this continuing, complex social problem that affects us all.

Compact with Micronesia: Micronesians are able to freely move to Hawai’i, which they are doing in large numbers to take advantage of the public education system, medical services and other government benefits. But the governor and other public officials say they are taxing Hawaii’s resources and costing the state more than $100 million a year. This is a federal decision, but would you share your view on whether the Compact with Micronesia should remain in place, should there be some parameters put on the Compact or do you have other solutions?

The Compact with Micronesia should remain in place to compensate people for the health problems caused from our nuclear testing in that country. However, the federal government should be stepping up with more resources to meet this moral obligation which is now unfairly shouldered by our state.

Akaka Bill: What is your position on the Akaka Bill? Do you believe it will unite or divide Hawaii? What is your vision for how the Akaka Bill will change Hawaii?

I recently wrote the members of our congressional delegation expressing my support for the Akaka Bill with the changes agreed to by Governor Lingle and U.S. Senators Inouye and Akaka. Passage of the Akaka Bill will finally give Native Hawaiians the same federal recognition that the many other indigenous people of our country now enjoy. The bill will also help to protect the federal benefits and services that are now provided to Native Hawaiians. I don’t see how the passage of this legislation will automatically cause division in our society. Ultimately, it’s up to Native Hawaiians to determine the vision for how the process will unfold.

Jones Act: Opponents of the federal Jones Act say it increases the cost of living in Hawaii through a shipping duopoly while supporters say it is needed to ensure port security and American jobs. While this is a federal decision, would you share your view on whether you support an exemption for Hawaii from the Jones Act or should it remain in place?

I support keeping the current Jones Act in place, because it protects American jobs, safeguards our natural environment, helps to keep the American shipping industry strong, and strengthens the defense of our country.

Endorsements you would like to list:

Hawai’i Government Employees Association (HGEA)

Hawai’i State AFL-CIO

Hawai’i Carpenters Union PAC

International Longshore & Warehouse Workers

United Public Workers

Ironworkers Political Action Committee

Hawai’i Fire Fighters Association
Plumbers and Pipefitters PAC

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1186 PAC

Hawai’i Teamsters Local 996 PAC

Sierra Club, Hawai’i Chapter

Hawai’i Right to Life PAC

Aloha Family Alliance PAC

  • Any additional comments:

Contact information

Phone: 682-0676


Mail: P.O. Box 75480  Kapolei, HI 96707

Web site address:

Campaign Slogan or Theme (optional)

“Over the last four years, I’ve been working to bring about positive changes in our community and state. It’s been a privilege representing you, but our work is not over. As West Oahu continues to blossom, it would be an honor to continue serving you as your state senator.  I humbly ask for your vote on September 18th and November 2nd.”

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