Running for: U.S. Congress, 2nd District
Occupation: Honolulu City Councilman
MAUI TIME WEEKLY: Why should people vote for you?
NESTOR GARCIA: I’m the kind of guy who likes to take risks. For example, as a state representative, I supported same-sex marriage in a district heavily populated by Filipinos, the majority of whom are Catholic. I supported treatment for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders instead of jail. I also pushed for a raise of the excise tax for mass transit, which is not recommended, by the way. I like to get involved in the mix. People need to understand that the decisions we make today will affect us for years to come. They will affect how others see us and how we see ourselves. Some people can’t see past their own busy lives to make a difference. I want to make a difference.
What’s the biggest problem facing your district?
Education. Congressional District 2 has two-and-a-half times more kids receiving Title I assistance (which provides food assistance for low-income families). Education, though, is only a symptom of the struggle. Economy and jobs are maybe the real root of it. We need to create quality jobs. The environment is another issue—they’re all related. Oil, global warming. But I really think education is number one. When you’re poor, you’re not given much hope. You should see where I grew up. You wouldn’t want to walk around where I grew up. But I’m an example that with an education you can make it.
What do you intend to do about this?
We need to reduce spending on the war in Iraq. We need an increase in alternate energy sources. There are four military bases being built in Iraq right now. Permanent bases. Serious installations. Why are these being built if we’re supposedly leaving? Nobody is leaving. We really need to push for alternative energy.
What are your feelings on Hawaiian Sovereignty?
I backed the Akaka Bill. It went down in flames, but I backed it. I see Hawaiians with health problems, their land taken. I’ve always felt we should do something. It’s not much, though, compared to what was taken.
What about the Superferry?
Infrastructure: is it there to support it? What about the harbors? Not just the physical, but the human infrastructure. Who’s going to collect the trash? Who’s going to put out the fires, etc.? We need to consider these things.
George W. Bush?
[Shaking head slowly from side to side] I have the opposite opinion of our governor, who recently called him “one of the best presidents ever.” Exactly the opposite opinion.
Smart growth. I want you to Google “smart growth” and you’ll understand what I mean. We need transportation between where people live, work and play.
We are right at capacity. Hoteliers will back me up on this. Yes, old time hoteliers will tell you we can’t take much more. Again, the infrastructure. Roads, sewage, human infrastructure, are all at capacity. We’ll need more cops, more state government workers.
In [the] legislature I supported medical marijuana. Anything beyond, I get a little nervous. I support hemp for clothes, and don’t support prison terms for first-time, nonviolent offenders.
What’s the most difficult thing that ever happened to you?
I guess I haven’t lived long enough to say something like that. Probably growing up in a single-parent household, growing up on welfare.
What’s the last book you read?
I’m still reading it. It’s a book about [Theodore] Roosevelt’s trip to chart a river in South America after a political loss. I believe it’s called River of Doubt. It reminds me of what I like about politics. I want to go to uncharted territory.
What’s your favorite thing about Maui?
Well, the physical beauty is always there. But everyone told me that I’d meet a lot of good people campaigning out here, and I’m finding that to be true. MTW