Who am I?
I was born and raised in Menlo Park, California (near San Francisco) during the 1960s. While my parents were middle class professionals, they were open-minded and sent my two brothers and I to alternative private schools that focused on creativity and independent thought.
In college (San Francisco State University), I became interested in feminism and received my bachelors degree in Womens Studies. I then realized that peoples politics are not primarily based on logic, but on their personal experience, so I earned my masters degree in Feminist Therapy (Clinical Psychology) (Antioch University), and began working as a psychotherapist/social worker. I have also worked as a real estate investor, architectural/interior designer and bed and breakfast owner.
After Maui County abruptly changed its policy on bed & breakfasts, putting thousands of people out of their homes, businesses and jobs, I again became interested in politics. I ran for Maui County Council, after which I secured an aide position in a Hawaii House Representatives office. I then realized that in addition to the sustainability and land use issues covered at the county level, Im also very interested in social issues, including education and drug abuse and its connection to the criminal justice/prison system - which are all state issues.
After working in social services for twelve years, my approach to change has come full circle as I realized that no matter what great social programs we implement, people wont get out of the cycle of trauma/drugs/poverty/crime/domestic & child abuse etc. until the economic situation changes. The economy has been manipulated by the Federal government through collusion with the main banks through the vehicle of campaign finance (legalized bribary) and since the Citizen's United ruling - the threat of smear campaigns.
For the last year I have been intensively studying economics and the speculation markets to understand how the housing bubble, bank failures and subsequent bailouts and eventually mass foreclosures happened. Unfortunately most of the people who have this knowledge have a conservative survival of the fittest philosophy, so I have sought out teachers and writers who understand the intricacies of finance and our economy, and have a social conscience.
Why am I running?
In this phase of my life, it was the mass bed & breakfast shut-down, orchestrated by interstate and international resort corporations, that initially inspired my interest in politics. Though once I started to study the issues, I found that there is a systemic un-wholistic paradigm in almost every field of endeavor. The profit motive, to the exclusion of the other three legs of the quadruple bottom line - social, environmental and cultural - has become paramount. I am running for office in order to change this, both in my official capacity as a state legislator and from a heightened platform as a community educator. Change for our society must come from a combination of grassroots organizing and elected officials working on the inside of the system.
To this end I have created my own television talk show, Netras News, http://www.youtube.com/user/NetraHalperin?feature=mhee, and publish articles in local newspapers frequently.
Because of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and because I see that many of the problems that we face here in Hawaii are caused by the unholy alliance between the federal government and Wall Street/major corporations, Im focussed on both national and local politics. My goal is to bring transparency to government at all levels; and to then reform it so that it actually represents the people instead of the highest campaign donors. I am thus a big proponent of public financing of campaigns and otherwise getting money out of politics.
On a state level I am very concerned about the huge number of people whom we are locking up in prison - instead of rehabilitating. All research has shown that it is more effective in reducing crime to deal with the underlying causes of crime, such as: poverty, abuse, drugs and lack of education. The War on Drugs has been shown to be completely ineffective, and has actually increased the incidence of drug abuse and related crime.
1. Economy: Many of my constituents are out of work or underemployed. In addition to contributing to the discourse on changes needed at the national level, I am working with Maui County Film Commissioner on creating a film industry for Maui. I will help pass the Hawaii Film Tax credit bill.
I am also working with the former director of the Maui Small Business Development Center who is creating a Community Finance Marketplace, which will bring entrepreneurs and small business owners together with funders. The vehicle for this is a crowd funding resolution which recently passed through Congress - HR 2930. I will help in whatever is needed to strengthen this program in Hawaii.
2. Crime and drug abuse: Most crime doesn't need to happen. Structured economic inequality, which leads to drug abuse, are the major causes of crime. The United States has 25% of the worlds prisoners, yet only 5% of the worlds people. The criminal "justice" system is a multi-billion dollar industry, and is actually perpetuating crime. The war on drugs has become a war on the people. 85% of all prisoners either meet the medical criteria for substance abuse disorder or alcohol or drugs were involved with their crime. Justice Reinvestment, a project of the Council of State Governments, is currently analyzing Hawaiis criminal justice/prison system. They have already concluded that Hawaii does not need to build more prisons or jails. The Department of Public Safety is poised to spend $250 million of the taxpayers money to build an 845 bed jail adjacent to my district. I am working assiduously to stop this, writing op-ed pieces and meeting with legislators.
I will introduce bills to reform: criminal justice/prison system, campaign finance, education, environmental protection, and womens health.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
1. I produce an hour long program on community access television, Netras News. We air live every other Thursday evening and are rebroadcast every weekday evening. The studio crew is volunteer, as is the field crew. I personally edit all videos.
2. I receive lots of earned publicity by frequently publishing op-eds in the Maui News and Maui Weekly, and feature stories in Maui Time Weekly. I have over 2,700 friends on Facebook, on which I post frequently. I am often a guest on various radio programs and am invited to speak at Rotary Clubs. I am involved in Occupy Wall Street - Maui, and help with media campaigns and direct action. I recently organized a foreclosure protest which will appear in Maui Weekly.
3. I have over 30 people on my campaign committee, who have volunteered to help with door-to-door campaigning in their respective neighborhoods, throw parties in their interest and ethnic groups, march in local parades, etc.
4. Because I have worked as an aide in the Hawaii legislature of two sessions, I have already formed relationships with many legislators. Accomplishing anything as a legeslator requires teamwork. Because of the groundwork which I have already laid, I will be able to hit the ground running.