Candidate: Stanley Pai Chang
Political Office Sought: State Senate, District 9
Are you an incumbent? No
Campaign contact name, phone number, and e-mail address:
Rebecca Soon, Finance Chair
1. Why are you running for office?
My desire to run for office stems from my parents. They’re both immigrants from China who arrived in Hawaiʻi with nothing. My dad started out as a beach boy in Waikīkī. They were able to work hard, save, buy a home, put my brother and me through school, and give us great opportunities. But today, 90% of my high school class at ʻIolani went to college on the mainland, and most haven’t come back. My brother lives in Dallas, where he bought a house that’s bigger, newer, and nicer than our house here.
I want to serve the people of Hawaiʻi to address this fundamental issue: ensuring that each future generation is able to have a good quality of life, opportunities, and the ability raise a family here at home. Too many local residents, including Native Hawaiians, cannot afford to buy a home because of the high prices and are forced to rent. Yet, with the high cost of rent, many families who use most of their income for rent are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. It is one of the reasons that close to half of the Native Hawaiian community lives off of Hawaiʻi’s shores. It is a key priority to work towards increasing homeownership and housing stability among all families in Hawaiʻi.
2. What are your views about Hawaiian self-governance? In your capacity as a legislator, what action, if any, would you advocate in support of Hawaiian self- governance?
As the indigenous people of Hawai‘i whose Kingdom was taken by force, the Native Hawaiian community has maintained many elements of its sovereignty. As guests in this unique place, it is our kuleana as residents to respect and support the further advancement of Native Hawaiian cultural, economic, and political sovereignty. Not being of Native Hawaiian ancestry myself, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to weigh in on the structure of Native Hawaiian self-governance. Instead, I support the efforts of Native Hawaiians for self-determination and whether that may include a future relationship with the State of Hawai’i, United States government, other indigenous governments, and other foreign sovereigns. Ultimately, the decision of which structure and paths towards sovereignty are pursued belongs to the Native Hawaiian community. I believe it is our role, as legislators, to support those decisions when made.
3. When it comes to Native Hawaiian issues, what do you perceive your role as a legislator to be? What ways can you, if elected, support Native Hawaiian concerns through your legislative abilities? If elected, describe specific Native Hawaiian bill ideas that you would be willing to propose or support for the advancement of Native Hawaiians.
The Hawaiʻi State Constitution has a number of duties to the Native Hawaiian people, including to beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which the State has been woefully inept in fulfilling. Additionally, the Constitution requires duties to public land trust lands, Native Hawaiian traditional and customary gathering rights, and proper management of our natural resources including land, water, and our sacred spaces. The legislature has an ability to support each of these, and I will commit to doing so.
The needs for affordable housing affect Native Hawaiians more significantly than most other communities in Hawaiʻi. There is no doubt that we can and must do better to build affordable, liveable communities for Hawaiʻi’s families. As a Councilmember, I fought to dedicate a record $40 million appropriation toward caring for the most vulnerable among us – our homeless community, of which Native Hawaiians make up approximately 30%. If elected to the Senate, I will fight for more resources for DHHL and for more affordable housing.
Proper resource management is an important issue for the Native Hawaiian community, and DLNR plays a critical role in protecting sacred places, managing water use, and caring for land in accordance with a number of State and Federal laws. However, DLNR is historically underresourced. I will support DLNR having the resources they need to properly manage these precious natural and cultural resources, while working collaboratively with stakeholder communities.