Kalamalama: Tell us about yourself, including your educational
and professional background.
Rhoads: Professionally, I am an attorney. I graduated with
honors from George Washington University Law School and practiced
at a local firm, Perkin & Hosoda, before going out on my
own. I also have an M.A. in International Relations from the
University of London. I have worked six sessions for State
Rep. Marilyn Lee, clerked for Intermediate Court of Appeals
Judge Corinne K.A. Watanabe, and worked on Capitol Hill in
Washington, D.C. for six years, including an internship for
Senator John Kerry.
Wong: I grew up in Hawai‘i, and went to Iolani School
and Boston University, where I majored in computer science.
After college, I worked as a computer consultant before getting
more involved in politics. I ran for the State House in 2004.
My legislative experience includes working as an aid for State
Senator Gordon Trimble and as a policy analyst in the Office
of the Governor.
Kalamalama: Many HPU students and faculty are concerned about
crime in the downtown area. If you are elected, what will you
do to make this area safer?
Rhoads: I have been working on reducing crime in the area for
more than 10 years, as a regular member of the Chinatown Citizens
Patrol and as a nine-year member of the Downtown Neighborhood
Board. The police and prosecutors obtain many convictions,
but due to lack of prison space many criminals end up back
on the streets in a matter of days or weeks. We need more prison
space here in the islands to ensure that criminals actually
do time for the crimes they commit.
Wong: I walk on the Downtown/Chinatown Citizens’ Patrol
every week, so I see the drug dealing and prostitution that
goes on in this area. Police officers have told me that the
majority of crimes are committed by a small number of criminals
who get arrested over and over again. I support tougher sentencing
laws for repeat, habitual offenders. I support community programs
such as Weed and Seed and neighborhood watch groups, and I
will work with city government to ensure that police departments
have adequate funding.
Kalamalama: What specific measures will you use to deal with
Rhoads: I think we need to increase penalties for johns and
prostitutes if they are convicted of multiple offenses. Right
now it is my understanding that prostitution is only a petty
misdemeanor. I believe a second offense should be a misdemeanor
and, after four or five convictions, we should consider making
a conviction a Class C felony.
Wong: Right now, being a prostitute or soliciting a prostitute
is a petty misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is a $500 fine
or 30 days in jail, which I don’t think is an effective
deterrent. I also believe that the state should work with private,
nonprofit groups such as Sisters Offering Support to help rehabilitate
those prostitutes, who are victims.
Kalamalama: What about the homeless population?
Rhoads: Every homeless person has a story, and they are not
all the same. Many fall into homelessness due to mental illness
or drug abuse, but some become homeless due to the loss of
a job or a job that just does not pay enough. We need to
increase outreach to the homeless to determine what each
person’s needs are and find an appropriate solution.
Wong: Affordable housing is a crisis for the entire state.
I support increasing the supply of housing through public/private
partnerships. The state should also offer tax incentives to
increase the supply of affordable rentals. I believe the homeless
shelter in Kakaako is a good pilot project, and I will support
building more of them if it proves to be successful. The state
also needs to create more supportive housing. Supportive housing
is semi-permanent housing for the homeless, where services
such as job training, or substance abuse treatment, can be
brought to them.
Kalamalama: Are there any other issues you would like to discuss
Rhoads: Public education is also important to me. Many residents
in my district cannot afford to send their kids to Punahou,
and they rely on the public school system to get ahead in life
and to give them a good education. We need to pay our teachers
more, reduce class sizes, and improve the physical plant at
Wong: I believe the most important issue here is restoring
people’s faith in their legislators and the political
process. Too many good, common sense ideas die because of partisan
politics or special interests. As your representative, I will
be open-minded, objective, and will always put the people of