Back in 2014, Alex Haller–a landscaper with a business finance degree from Cal State San Luis Obispo watched the council deliberate over Launiupoko development. After concluding that the councilmembers didn’t seem to understand proper land appraisal formulas, he decided to run for office–in that case, for the Maui County Council seat then (and still) held by Mike White.
Haller never got out of the Primary (former Councilmember Mike Molina bested him, but then got trounced by White in the General), but Haller’s running for office again. This time it’s for the 13th District state Representative seat currently held by Lynn DeCoite.
MAUTIME: What is your top priority if elected?
ALEX HALLER: My top priority is to fight for the best use of our taxpayer dollars to address critical community issues. My goal is to secure funds that invest in our infrastructure and roads (such as the Paia bypass), affordable housing projects for local residents, important funding for rural schools, expansion to our senior services, and eradicating invasive species (such as coqui frogs and little fire ants).
MT: What event in your life best prepared you for public office?
AH: My appendix ruptured during my County Council campaign in 2014. I spent 25 days in the hospital and went 17 straight days without one bite of food or one sip of water due to a life-threatening infection. I was mentally, physically and emotionally tested beyond belief. This life-changing event prepared me for public office, because it emphasized the importance of a healthy community and quality healthcare for all residents.
MT: Who should be the next President of the United States?
AH: I voted for Bernie Sanders at the Presidential Preference Poll on March 26. I’ll vote for the Democratic nominee in the general election.
MT: Which person who previously held the office you’re seeking do you hold up as a model? Why?
AH: Mele Carroll was beloved by our community and represented the residents of Lanai, Molokai, and East Maui for 10 years. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to meet her, but I know she was a great representative for our diverse canoe district. Representing multiple islands is challenging and Mele’s legacy and accomplishments will always be remembered.
MT: Do you support or oppose the current law that exempts police officer misconduct records from public disclosure? Why?
AH: Transparency within any government or department is important because it builds trust amongst residents. Police officers are held to a higher level of professionalism and they are very powerful and important members within our community. I do not think police officer misconduct records should be exempt from public disclosure because the public has a right to know if any abuse of power has occurred.
MT: Right now Hawaii has two minimum wages–one for workers, and one for restaurant workers who receive tips (which is lower than the first minimum wage). Do you support this? Why or why not?
AH: I think Hawaii should have one minimum wage for all workers. Restaurant workers who earn the lower minimum wage and rely on tips are subject to possible negative biases due to their ethnicity, gender, or age. If there were one minimum wage for all workers it would take a burden off the employee and ensure fair wages for hard work.
MT: What should Hawaii’s minimum wage be?
AH: Hawaii’s minimum wage should be $12 an hour and increase with the rate of inflation. This will help low wage workers rise out of poverty and give them more money to spend to afford rent and food. Most hourly wage earners spend their increase in wages on consumer goods, which helps the economy and creates jobs.
MT: The proposed merger between Hawaiian Electric and NextEra–will this be good or bad for Hawaii? Why?
AH: Regardless of the merger, Hawaiian Electric will be able to meet our state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. If the merger does happen HECO/NextEra expect to reach this goal much sooner than 2045. NextEra has a lower cost of capital than HECO, which allows the utility company to undertake more renewable energy projects. All the jobs should be protected longer than two years to ensure a 100 percent Hawaii staff. It is important to support solar and bring back “net metering.” The use of liquid natural gas (LNG) as a bridge fuel does concern me because fracking is contaminating drinking water on the mainland.