2018 Primary Election Candidates

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GONCE, Randy A.
Name on ballot:

GONCE, Randy A.

Running for:

State House

District (if applicable):

District 48

Political party:


Campaign website:


Current occupation:

Legislative Researcher/Aide/Committee Clerk



Previous job history:

School Teacher, HVAC Technician, US Air Force Veteran

Previous elected office, if any:


What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

A State Representative is tasked with serving their State and respective communities. You bring people together from all walks of life to find solutions on tough issues. I have made it my life’s work to do just this in many different professions. For example:

□ I have 6 years of Honorable Service in the US Air Force during both recent wars. During this time I visited many countries and experienced different cultures and backgrounds in war, humanitarian, and training environments. This gave me phenomenal perspective into being a world citizen and provided me with skills in diplomacy, handling intense situations/problems, and the composure to accomplish difficult tasks. I was able to make friendships with people from Iraq to Okinawa and around the globe because I brought with me the values of compassion and understanding that I was raised with. No matter what differences we have in the world we always have more in common than we think.

□ I have 3 years of legislative experience at the Hawai’i State Capitol where I served as a researcher, legislative aide, and legislative committee clerk. It was during this time that I have become well-informed with how our legislative system functions in Hawaiʻi. I am proud to say that I have played a crucial role in the research, drafting, and advocacy for ideas that have made it into law. The latest bill was just signed into law a few days ago, which will organize, coordinate, and conduct a biennial Hawaii Veterans Summit. Another bill relating to our Homeless would waive the fee for a certified Homeless individual to obtain their birth certificate from the State of Hawaiʻi. This came directly from outreach and conversations with our homeless community and implementing that feedback. I am ready to hit the ground running with legislative priorities when elected.

Furthermore, having a front row seat as a staff member in the legislature also drove me to run for office. I saw backroom deals, decisions being made before the public has a chance to testify, the cozying up of lobbyists and lawmakers, and much more. This culture that exists at the Capitol must change in order for our legislature to carry out the BEST work possible for our people.

□ My time as an organizer, activist, and advocate in Hawaiʻi has prepared me greatly to advocate for public policy that benefits all, not the corporate class. I have dedicated myself to bringing more people into the political world specifically our Youth. I have held trainings to educate people about civics to testify, hold rallies, and eventually pass laws that would benefit the quality of life for everyone in Hawaiʻi. With this organizing we have made strong ties to numerous other advocacy organizations that fight for issues that affect our kūpuna, teachers, keiki, working class, economy, women, health care, and much more.

Also, I am a board member of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaiʻi, (DPFHI) which is Hawaii's voice for sensible, compassionate, and effective drug policies. The board consists of Physicians, Lawyers, and many other qualified professionals who have decades of experience studying issues such as drugs, health care, harm reduction, and much more. Recently DPFHI has positively responded to issues in Hawaiʻi such as, the ban of gun ownership to those who have medical cannabis cards and the new opioid harm reduction laws. I am honored to be apart of the phenomenal DPFHI team.

□ My time as a public servant to the people of my district also speaks to my qualifications. Public service is a part of an elected official that is often forgotten by aspiring lawmakers or incumbents. My campaign and I have made it the very center of what we stand for. From volunteering to serve food to our kūpuna or at school events, to participating in monthly homeless outreach, spending time in the loʻi, at the fish pond or one of the many community work days, each and every week we are out effecting change in our communities. There is no time to wait for the election, our communities need our kōkua. Public service is much more than belonging to an organization. It is the present action of working towards making the place you live better each and every day.

□ Lastly, my Masters degree in Global Leadership in Sustainable Development has taught and prepared me to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. I focused hard on public policy in Hawaiʻi in terms of sustainability because I have a deep desire to give back and assist in seeing Hawaiʻi thrive again. We currently are the largest unsustainable island economy in the world and it took us only 250 years to change from being a 100% sustainable island chain. We absolutely have to reverse the decades of regressive policies implemented since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and return Hawaiʻi to a place of prosperity once again.

What are the top three challenges facing the voters you seek to represent?

Speaking with my community the main concerns in our district are:
1. The rising cost of living in Hawaiʻi to include affordable housing.
2. The increase of crime and homelessness.
3. The poor conditions of our roads and infrastructure like our schools.

-To tackle the cost of living and housing issue we have to rethink the way our economy operates. Through our laws we influence our state to operate in an economy that funnels wealth to the top while we watch our families suffer and eventually move away. We sell culture, natural resources, and hard work to tourism and foreign investment without taking into account the repercussions our actions have on our future. Our current model cares about one thing, profit. It leaves out all the things that we, as residents, care about the most such as: time off with our families, clean watersheds, affordable and locally grown nutritious food, a full time job that gives us a sense of pride AND provides a comfortable lifestyle, the list goes on.

We need to move away from our current model of profit/growth above all else that would rather raise the prices on our supermarket food than allow us to increase the growth of local nutrient dense food in our communities. It is the same model that knows we have one of the worst housing crises in the nation yet still views our housing market as an investment rather then providing shelter for our people.

-All of our major problems are connected. The increase in crime and homelessness is a direct result of the economic condition stated above. A crucial step in addressing our homelessness issue is to increase the one-to-one outreach to our homeless people. I assist in homeless programs and outreach on the Windward side with volunteers and state organizations. The #1 most effective way to impact this issue is to develop relationships with our homeless and connect them with services specific to their needs. When you actually listen to someone is down on their luck and provide them with a trusting relationship with no strings attached it gives them hope. We currently deal with most our homeless the opposite way. We write them tickets, sweep them from their homes, throw away their possessions, and throw them in jail. This leads to chronic homeless, the inability to get work, drug abuse, crime and much more.

Our criminal justice system in Hawaiʻi is also very broken. The majority of our inmates are people sitting in jail waiting for their trial for non-violent crimes. They cannot afford the bail money set because it is so difficult to make ends meet in Hawaiʻi. Mind you this is all before they are even proven guilty. In our society, if you are rich your chances of getting off with zero charges increase drastically. You can afford to get yourself out on bail, a good lawyer, and your life continues with a small bump in the road. If you are poor you sit in jail for months on end, in a hostile environment where you have to hold your own, you lose you job, sometimes your relationships, and support nets. Upon trial you are given a public defender that has an enormous workload and barely has a relationship with those they represent. By this time it makes more sense to take a plea deal even if innocent. It is a system designed for failure and our less privileged citizens are always the most impacted. We need reform in this area now before our state decides to build a new prison and throw more people in jail.

-Our substandard road and infrastructure problem is also a direct result of the economic condition and the lack of willingness to try new innovations. Our roads are poorly maintained and anyone who takes the bus or drives anywhere knows this. Roads in Hawaiʻi are constantly being patched, repaved, and holes keep coming back within months of repair.
In our district we have a lot of rain, which increases the chances of potholes due to rain pooling under the top layer of asphalt and the constant humidity we experience. I have a hard time understanding why our leaders haven’t explored and implemented alternatives to traditional asphalt, which is immensely damaging to our environment, reliant on fossil fuels, and cannot tolerate the conditions in Hawaiʻi.

-Ours poor public school infrastructure comes down to the misguided state priorities. We need to bring in more revenue to increase funding for our school system. For too long we have neglected our duties to bring in new money to our state without increasing taxes on the working people. We need leaders with the political will to move on legalizing and regulating the sale of cannabis, hemp products, and other innovative ways to bring in revenue. We elect people to stand on bold ideas not sell us the status quo.

If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?

My highest legislative priority would be to work diligently to return power to the people. We currently have a very top down government that thinks they know what is best for communities, which is often tax breaks for the largest corporations and increasing foreign investment. This could not be further from the truth and the best interest of our people.

We need to rethink the way our government is run. We need to untie the hands of our farmers to start producing nutrient dense food, like Kalo and Ulu, for the people of their communities. Hawaiʻi needs to become self sufficient again so families are not fighting the system just to meet their basic needs. Our current system commodifies all our basic needs. Housing, food, healthcare, etc. Currently, you can only live a life of comfort if you are wealthy enough. There are individuals who are working 2 and 3 jobs just to barley make rent and keep food on the table. We have a working homeless population that works full time but still cant afford a place to live.

This is the #1 priority. To stop our system from working only for a handful of people and demand it start working for all of us.

If elected, what can you do to improve the lives of your constituents?

This is where I believe leadership qualities of our next Representative need to shine. To improve the lives of my constituents I need my constituents to know and believe that I am there for them and no one else. That is why I am proud to say our campaign is 100% community funded and driven. Until you can get candidates to run a 100% clean election like ours, taking zero dollars from political action committees (PACS), special interest groups, and other large donors, you will never have the community 100% behind you. There is way too much money in our political system. Far too many times politicians say the right things at the door but when push comes to shove they serve their donors. This must stop!

My goal is to empower communities and people to engage the process, speak truth to power, and demand we change the system that has been designed to work against us. I cannot achieve any of the larger goals on my own. I can provide the platform, the vision, the sustainability goals, and even the ideas for solutions but unless I have the community backing me up ready with testimony, phone calls, and trust, It will fall upon deaf ears. When hundreds and even thousands of people stand up and demand that we address our homeless issue, our housing crisis, our wealth inequality, AND we have Representatives who are willing to take bold stances to push these issues then we will see government return power to the people.

We are doing politics different because we HAVE to do it different. We are engaging demographics of people who normally stay out of politics because all things political are personal. We need our youth to step up and demand a better future. We need our working families to stand up and say "enough already".

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

With over 5 million dollars spent on primary elections in 2018 alone I want voters to really take a hard look at how we run elections. When the state tells us "no more money" to fund services, I want voters to question the next candidate that sends tons of political mail to your mailbox. I want voters to question the candidate who blankets the district with shiny new plastic signs and never really answers questions substantively. I want voters to look past where the candidate grew up and graduated from and really listen to what the candidate has to say.

We are standing strong and trying to change the way elections are run because until we start having candidates reject all special interest money the communities voices will always come second. We have grounded our campaign in public service giving back to our communities at every opportunity. Wether it is volunteering at events, connecting people and organizations, developing relationships with our homeless, or all the above we are returning politics to being about serving others not special interests or profits. This is not lip-service because it is backed by our actions and our public campaign spending reports.

Check us out at www.randygonce.com and join the movement to clean up elections and return power to the people!

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