Big Island Candidates Answer Tough Questions
Big Island residents are on the cusp of another pivotal mayoral race.
With primary elections scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, time is running out for voters to choose which of the 13 candidates currently registered they will cast their ballot for.
To help you make that important decision, Big Island Now has provided an issue-focused candidate forum based on 10 questions sent to each candidate.
Of the 13 registered candidates, nine replied to our questionnaire by deadline: Alvin Akina Jr., Paul “Amaury” Bryant, Marlene Hapai, Pete Hoffmann, Wendell Ka‘ehu‘ae‘a, Harry Kim, Wally Lau, Helen Ole Luta and Shannon McCandless.
Daniel H. Cunningham, Gene Tamashiro, Timothy “Timmy”R. Waugh and Eric (Drake) Weinert Jr. did not respond.
Each candidate’s answer begins with a brief biography. The candidates and their answers are listed in alphabetical order beginning below the list of questions. Their responses are unedited.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: What concrete steps would you take as mayor to ensure that future administrations, including your own, do not violate ethics rules pertaining to use of public funds?
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: What would you do to increase transparency of administration spending, so that the public can readily see how their dollars are being used by their chief executive?
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: Contractors and homeowners are reporting wait times of three to six months for building permits. With construction forming such a large component of the Big Island’s economy, what solutions would you propose to streamline the permit process and what sources of funding would be used?
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: Explain your viewpoint regarding the construction of the TMT. Will it be a net positive or net negative for the Big Island community?
5. HOMELESSNESS: What are actionable steps that can be taken to help resolve the islandwide homeless crisis; include funding sources for your solutions.
6. TAX REVENUES: An increase in the general excise tax was proposed by the current mayor. Where do you stand on introducing new tax revenue sources during the next administration? If you plan on targeting the state’s share of the Transient Accommodations Tax, how would you increase Hawai‘i County’s share of that revenue source?
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: How do you feel about our current level of services vs. spending? If we were to face a funding shortfall during the next administration, would you raise taxes or cut programs, and if so, what and how?
8. NEXTERA MERGER: What is your opinion regarding the proposed NextEra merger with Hawai‘i Electric Company? Do you support efforts to halt that process in favor of a public-owned (co-op) utility model?
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: How can the county government help to resolve this pervasive problem?
10. HILO LANDFILL: The Hilo landfill is at or approaching safe capacity levels and could face closure during the next administration if changes are not made. Various solutions have been proposed, including rerouting waste to West Hawai‘i and the construction of a waste-to-energy plant. What direction would pursue as mayor?
Alvin Akina Jr.
Aloha, my name is Alvin Akina Jr,, and I wanted to start off by telling you about my background and why I’m seeking the office of Mayor for Hawaii Island. As a resident of Kailua Kona my appreciation for our town and our Island, I am grateful for the Life Experiences of which I have found in my 45 years as a citizen to seek the Mayor seat at this time would bring me to full cycle of service to our community. Integrity, Accountability, and Open Government are a must. I am currently a Volunteer Commissioner for the Kailua Village Design Commission, County Of Hawaii, Planning Department.
My beginnings, born in Honolulu, raised in Kailua, Oahu. Graduated from Kailua High School. To begin my journey in life, five years of Service in the Hawaii Army National Guard, five years in the City and County of Honolulu. Married, three sons, moved to the Big Island in 1971. Remarried Christine Chapman Akina, one daughter.
Employment throughout all the years was primarily in Hospitality Industry. Security was the beginning n 1972. In 1990 I became the Lead Doorman of the Ritz-Carlton and Maunalani Hotels. I retired in 2009. I have been a Community Advocate, Business Member, Founding Member of Queen Liliokalani Canoe Club in 1975.
Home Owner, Foster Parent, Volunteer Fireman (KVR), Library Van Driver, Highway Clean up, Shoreline Trash Collection, Caregiver of War Veterans, and Family Member.
At this time I am asking for your vote of confidence.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: To uphold, promote, and demand the highest standards of ethics from all of its
employees and officials or face consequences.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: Public Announcement including Newspaper, Radio, Television, and Internet.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: Reduce time to 1-3 months… Public and Private Resources.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: On one side positive would be employment to only a few Contractors. Negative would be to NOT pay attention to the Cultural Practice of the Host Nation.
5. HOMELESSNESS: Homelessness is a product of not wanting to participate in citizenship and
the values of the majority. Working Homeless should be number one priority. Housing… Offer a place in your home?
6. TAX REVENUES: Stay in the Status Quo
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: Work within the Budget, if cuts need to be made I’ll start with holding down Pay Raises for our County Employees, and take a cut in my pay as Mayor, lead by example.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: Against Merger, Public Coop.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: Recruit Doctors from other Nations, incentives… Give free housing for 5 years.
10. HILO LANDFILL: Construction of Waste to Energy Plant… Entombing Landfill to provide energy.
Paul “Amaury” Bryant
At 71 yrs old, I’ve been in Hawaii County since 1990 starting as a sheep rancher and eventually opening a fine arts gallery. I lead two non-profits: Waimea Arts Council and the FOL/Laupahoehoe and am a founding Board Member of Self Discovery Through ART.
My life before Hawaii consisted of 30 years as a roving journalist and art critic covering Austral-Asia for the Mainichi Newspaper/TOKYO. I also operated my own fine arts gallery there for nearly 20 years, held the first charity show for the handicapped with Imperial patronage that netted over 1 million dollars. I’ve written countless articles in publications round the world, lectured on Japanese culture to such diverse organizations as the BROOKINGS INSTITUTE, DC and L’Ecole des Beaux Artes, Paris as well as universities across North America, Europe and Australia. I’m a published author now working on a series of autobiographical short stories.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: I will expect every person to abide by the rules they agreed to follow when taking a position within the county payroll. Those found wanting will be dismissed from their position(s). There is no excuse for the sort of sorry situation our current Mayor created and it seems to me his Managing Director lacked the integrity to “whistle blow” on the situation. A mistake is one thing but repeated egregious misuse of funds and/or your position is quite something else. There are many people in the hierarchy that could have been alerted and all had a duty to speak up. Strange but none did except the anonymous sender of the CC bill that broke the story publicly.
Further I expect every department head I choose will also provide a self-written lettre of immediate resignation with their signature notarized. These undated lettres will be kept in my personal files for use when absolutely necessary. There will be no court hearings, or other costly arguments like we’ve been forced to pay in the past. Gone is gone if you cannot do your sworn duty with both integrity and complete fairness to the public.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: With the advent of computerized bookkeeping there’s no excuse for not having a weekly summation of all expenditures listed in an equally easy to read spreadsheet. Why have countless pc operators in the county without making sure a small dedicated cadre are charged with producing for the public that weekly rendering. And at months end all is grouped onto one sheet. If ?’s are raised everyone will know how each $ was spent so discussions will start at the same point of departure.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: When I built my home 27 years ago I was told the permit would take a week. When I went back a week later I was told the person checking it over was off sick and it would be another week to finish. Coming back that third time to get the permit the clerk again said the man checking it was still ill. At that point I asked to see the Dept. Chief and asked him directly if the man in ? died would I never get my permit. He laughed at the thought and asked the clerk to bring the drawings for him to see. Looking them over he suggested that if I had Hilo shopping to do I could collect them and the permit after lunch! There seemed little more to do to finish them and he personally would see them finished.
It does seem there’s a continual bottleneck for permits being issued. The office and the way they handle the stream that comes thru needs complete overhaul and groups of approval officers should collectively work on a number of permits together. Plus some of the necessary points that are legally required should be pre-approved by the designing architect who stamps each specifically to say that these portions fully meet code. His stamp is his bond and his office will assume full responsibility legally. Re-inventing the wheel each time a permit is issued will be not part of that process.
As for additional funding – maybe an increase in properly accredited examiners might be necessary but we can shuffle workers from dept to dept as needed and not hire more people as long as qualifications are met 100%.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: Having spoken with a wide range of people about this I did note that many of the Kanaka Maoli themselves were in favor of the TMT being built AS LONG AS THE APPROVAL PROCESS WAS LEGALLY FOLLOWED. Almost to a person everyone said the Super Ferry debacle should NOT ever again be repeated. All seemed in agreement that it was ancient study of the stars that brought the first Hawaiians to these remote islands and that study happened over generations. It will be interesting to see how much man learns from use of the TMT and how far it will take us. Removal of un-necessary telescopes should be part of the changes coming to Mauna Kea.
5. HOMELESSNESS: This is part and parcel of the fact that so many living on our island have unstable incomes and there’s little incentive to rent to those who may not be able to pay their monthly due bill. We need a basic living wage of atleast $15/hr and I would like to see that rise with my first four years to $20/hr. Any hue and cry from business owners large or small misses the point that having a well-trained steady employee is good for business. They are NOT looking about for a better job and they become a functionally vital part of the community at large. If a new business doesn’t take into consideration a living wage for any employees they will hire they are bound to fail. These commonsense approach is no different than learning how to cope without plastic grocery bags. Business will and can adjust as quickly as the public.
6. TAX REVENUES: Again the basic living wage per hour should not be whittled away by GET taxing of food and medicines! 40% of our islanders rely in foodstamps—I DO MYSELF! As a county we should put a moratorium on collecting GET for those two items. We also need to reboot the way the tax office operates and make sure every home and each parcel is properly vetted and the correct rates applied. One way to do this is to use airborne drone technology that will create a visual record of large or small parcels. We have many who feel they can (and do) add onto their homes regardless of the process requiring them to update their records. Others are basic land speculators who feel a bit of “harmless” lying is OK. Well it isn’t and the loss of revenue from such mis-quoted landuse is in the 100’s of thousands of dollars.
This hole has to be plugged immediately and if there is proof that fraud has been perpetrated for some years then legal action to recover lost revenue should be taken.
Use of TAT is more troublesome as the new traveler uses Air B+B which fall outside TAT recovery. The licensing of all B+B plus rental homes needs to be a priority and again with technology at our beck and call it should be easy to find those offering services and seek their compliance with state and county statutes.
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: I believe that every department has some personel that could be trimmed or moved elsewhere. Some of these are just not needed where they now work and some are of the sort that no one wants to handle them. This is where Department Chiefs are put to the test. It may be transfer to a less favorable job but whatever the solution I think trim/transfer and even early retirement is overdue in many instances.
When a county employee retires he or she is NOT to be rehired as a temp without good reason and definitely for only specially short periods of time. Taking your pension and then returning to your job should be illegal. If anything it’s unethical and we would be in favor of rules that would eliminate this practice.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: There’s no doubt they won’t go away quietly but I personally think its past time for our county to run its own energy programme. There are thousands of small and large counties throughout the mainland who do this and we can too. A public owned energy provider is the way to go.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: There was a programme not too long ago that gave newly minted Dr.’s the chance at forgiveness on med school debt by taking a position in a rural community. This programme worked and I assume that a plan along those lines can help staff our facilities again. If our cities like KONA and HILO do not qualify then we need to create some sort of similar situation so these young doctors will think of coming here to work and LIVE! Marketing needs to done by a competent agency to lure them to the island!.
10. HILO LANDFILL: We’ve had decades of treating our growing refuse problem with ostrich thinking. And if heads weren’t in the sand the management was totally inept! KIM and KENOI both had this problem with Todd-Leithead and it continues as she mismanages environmental waste today. RECYCLE is the only way we will find a workable solution. The old dump at HILO needs to be mined and recycled despite the cost. When properly done a new barrier and a refurbished site will remain. Infrastructure is an ongoing problem!!
Dr. Marlene (Nachbar) Hapai is presently Professor and Regent Emeritus of the University of Hawaii and Co-owner and Business Manager of the Andrade Building in Honokaa where she was born and raised by her Andrade ohana. She is the 3rd generation to manage the Andrade Building built by her grandparents establishing the town of Honokaa once the second largest town on Hawaii Island and is grooming her children to continue this tradition to preserve Honokaa’s rich history.
She has lived in Puako, Kohala, Honokaa, Hilo and Kurtistown and has an intimate understanding of the needs and challenges of Hawaii County. She has worked with the Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee and served as its Subcommittee Chair for Connectivity and Emergency Response for the past 3 ½ years and worked with Civil Defense to create and coordinate emergency preparedness fairs she believes are important for all island districts to determine critically needed infrastructure. This work led to a community-county model she believes will lead to greater community input into decision making.
Marlene has a Bachelors degree in Biology from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington and Masters in Science in Insect Ecology and Ph.D. in Insect Physiology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her career has included 30 years of teaching, 12 at the intermediate and high school levels and 18 at the university level and was the first woman to reach Full Professor in the Natural Sciences at UH Hilo.
Her strong administrative background vital to managing County government includes serving as Natural Sciences Program and Division Chairs and contributing to program growth; Associate Dean for UH Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources responsible for reorganizing the 100-year old college to prevent its closure; Executive Director of the Imiloa Astronomy Center responsible for directing the building of the Center and reserving enough money to pay staff for a year while the center increased its revenue to cover operational costs; and served on the UH Board of Regents helping to manage a $1.2 billion budget and 10 campuses and became the first woman from Hawaii Island to represent Hawaii Island in its 100-year history.
She has been very active in community organizations and continues to help raise funds to benefit their causes especially through grant writing, acquiring a $1 million grant to build a Portuguese Cultural and Educational Center in Hilo in April 2016.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: Keeping the public’s trust is vital to managing money entrusted to their governing body. Those elected are public servants and are expected by their constituents to always act responsibly and in their best interest. The Hawaii County Charter Article 15, Code of Ethics provides guidelines for County officers and employees to perform their duties in an ethical manner and procedures to interpret ethics problems pertaining to their actions. Ethical behavior must start from the top. To ensure this code is followed, especially in managing public funds, I would have the Corporation Counsel present mandatory workshops on the Code of Ethics to all County officers (including the Mayor) and employees, to include using concrete scenarios to present actions that are ethical and those that are not.
Training should include knowing the procedure to follow should a question arise on whether an action is ethical or not providing guidance in decision making. Also in meetings with Department administrators I will make it clear that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep each other operating in an ethical manner. Items on administrative meeting agenda and their proposed actions will be reviewed by Corporation Counsel should any question on their being ethical or not arises.
Also, all Department heads will be expected to guide the Mayor and others on acceptable practices for their specific areas to prevent unethical or illegal actions from occurring. Additionally, a box could be added to approval forms to initial that the expenditure complies with the Hawaii County Code of Ethics. It is important to be proactive and educate all working for our county on ethical practices. With everyone operating under the same set of standards, which were created in the best interest of the public, Hawaii County’s employees can move forward proud to be part of an ethical, community-serving entity.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: The Mayor should make an annual budget like everyone else projecting what is needed to best do her/his job. This budget should focus around helping accomplish the overall goals of the County’s annual plan. I would like to see transparency in the entire budgetary process with:
- A new Advisory Council of Community Development Plan Action Committee Chairs meeting to understand each other’s needs, identifying their specific needs and providing input into the process of prioritizing actions and appropriations to Department Chairs and Council members;
- Setting goals and timelines at the administrative level (both 4-year and annual),
- Presenting monthly department progress reports and having a yearly evaluation of progress toward goals, citing Commendations to celebrate accomplishments and Recommendations for improvement. The Advisory Council of CDP Action Committee Chairs, the Mayor, the Council and each respective department would be part of the evaluation process.
- The annual plan would be taken and presented to each community represented by a CDP, within six months a progress report would be presented to each CDP community area and asked for feedback/recommended revisions and another progress report would be presented at the end of the year. All progress would focus around goals established at the beginning for that year.
- All reports would be available on the County’s website and the use of other media can be employed on a monthly basis such as a newspaper section entitled “County Corner” and radio possibly the “Mayor’s Manao.” The Mayor’s budget should be used to efficiently and effectively manage existing resources as well as explore new ideas and secure new resources to supplement and compliment available funding.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: There are a number of ways the time can be decreased in the permitting process. An analysis can be done within the permitting units and/or by an independent specialist to determine what steps can be eliminated and do so. Or, if all steps seem to be necessary, some may be consolidated and approved at one time. Those desiring faster service could also pay a fee to have their permits done at a faster rate, according to the period of time related to the service, like the US Postal Service, FedEx or UPS does. The faster you want it done, the higher the cost.
We can also engage private partners to provide the service at a faster rate. Recently the County of Honolulu launched the Simple Permit process in which a Code Official works with the contractor or homeowner from start to finish to guide them through the process. We should look at how well this new procedure is working as well as how other counties and states do their permitting process to see how we can best facilitate and reduce the level of frustration associated with the permitting process. Funding would come from fees and reorganization of duties within departments involved in the permitting process. If the process is streamlined and less time is needed to accomplish the process, existing fees and staff should be able to handle the process in less time and at the same fee rates and thus not require additional funding.
4. THRITY METER TELESCOPE: Since the beginning of my filing for the office of Mayor for Hawaii County I have made it clear that “I support astronomy, but also support the process being followed to determine the future of the TMT.”
When the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (Imiloa) was built in 2005, it was to “bring the mountain to the people” and to bridge science and culture.
While working on Imiloa’s Kumu Lipo Theater, the introduction of this ancient Hawaiian chant about creation contained in Queen Liliuokalani’s own words: “The ancient Hawaiians were astronomers.” She saw the direct connection between the great navigational accomplishments of her ancestors and their knowledge of the celestial sphere, including the stars and planets, and their movements, as well as other natural signs.
We are at a crossroads with science and culture and our choices will determine the future of astronomy on Mauna Kea and in Hawaii.
We need to follow a Win-Win scenario resulting in a net positive for the Big Island community which involves respecting both the host culture and science; following policies established in the 2000 Mauna Kea Management Plan created with the input of members of the Native Hawaiian and scientific communities; bring original members contributing to the 2000 plan and new members together to acknowledge what was agreed upon, resolve and amend conflicts and move forward together. A next generation telescope, similar to the TMT is described and diagrammed in the 2000 plan. It is time to revisit and reassess what was agreed upon. To present a pro/anti TMT scenario has divided the Big Island community, both native Hawaiians and others, and a decision made this way will have a negative impact, to which degree I cannot predict. Resolution is needed so everyone feels they are part of astronomy, from their own perspective.
5. HOMELESSNESS: Homelessness has become a problem island-wide on the Big Island with our largest population hubs, Hilo, Kona and Puna, appearing to bear the greatest numbers of homeless people. There is not a one size fits all solution to this present crisis. I see three groups of homeless to include those who have become homeless by: 1) chance due to some unexpected monetary shortfall (loss of job, unexpected large bill), 2) choice and thus choose to remain homeless and 3) condition such as mental health or drug-related problems. Services for families and individuals will need to vary. Some answers to this challenge lie in the hands of providers and non-profit organizations that have worked with these individuals and know what works and does not work. They need to and want to be involved in the solutions. $5 million of State funding is presently helping the first group keep their housing and those ready to afford housing into homes via Aloha United Way’s Rapid Response program.
As our County moves toward self sufficiency in food and energy production, homeless programs also need to move in that direction. Facilities provided should be acceptable in appearance with gardens and workshops to produce items to generate income and individuals who are able, help with community service, similar to work-study programs offered for students, providing them with ways to work for their services. Public/Private/Non-Profit partnerships can also help to fund facilities and programs and share the cost thus decreasing government funding. The County can help to create these partnerships. There is also a need to continue working toward the creation of more affordable housing and reenacting the concept of ohana homes to provide housing for those who cannot afford today’s high cost. These can also be funded by public/private partnerships and by reexamining zoning policies.
6. TAX REVENUES: I actively testified against raising the GE tax as it affects the young, elderly, disabled and those with fixed incomes and living at minimum wage the most and although it could increase revenues, those monies gained would very possibly be needed for additional services to help those most negatively impacted. I am not in favor of increasing taxes. Our economy is projected to improve with our visitors spending more in 2017. Our residents are also predicted to have a 5% increase in spendable income. By finding other sources of revenue, we can allow residents to enjoy a higher standard of living instead of taking away what they just gained. This is counterproductive.
Once we determine our County’s financial needs, we can work toward a higher share of the TAT or work more closely with our Big Island legislators to gain funding for County-related projects. We should also work more closely with our Federal legislators to meet our funding needs. It does not matter what level brings in the funding, as long as the needs are met. We should work as a Big Island team.
My focus to increase funding will be on creating more public/private/non-profit partnerships, bringing in additional grants and charging visitors fees for the use of new and existing resources and programs. There are some County services that could be run by non-profit organizations and funded by private individual contributions thereby releasing some funds for other purposes. With the tremendous increase in population we must anticipate a need for increased services
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: Our current level of services is inadequate. Due to our population boom, with a tripling of our population from 1970 to today (63,000 – 196,000+), our need for services and new infrastructure is critical. This is not a time to cut services. Should there be a funding shortfall, this is generally a reflection of the overall economy and thus if we are hurting financially, so are those we would consider taxing. Thus increasing taxes is not the answer. The answer is using what we have more efficiently and securing funding from new sources. While on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents we were able to approve the public/private partnership that resulted in the Hawaii Community College Palamanui campus in Kona. Charles Schwab provided private funding for the building, the State provided funding for infrastructure and the County provided the park.
Our County Council is also in the process of approving the building of an elderly care facility in Kona which will be built by a private company thus providing the building with the County reducing its cost to the developer. Although this decreases County revenue, it increases services at no cost to the County. We need to create more of these public/private partnerships to service our growing population. I would also like to focus more on non-profit organizations providing services, especially with the increase of private contributions from those who believe in their causes. This shift in funding from the County to the private sector will release funds to provide other County services. Grant writing is another means of increasing revenue and will actively be pursued by my administration.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: The NextEra merger with HECO has already been dissolved with NextEra also pulling out of other projects with HEI. It is time to consider what is doable on an island this size with much open space between communities. I saw the benefit of the one large service provider during Tropical Storm Iselle when the local branch was able to call in additional help as needed. Should an effort be made to move forward with a public-owned utility model, I see the need for each independent co-op or “energy pod” to have cooperative agreements to help one another in times of emergency and to be able to do this to invest in compatible technology from the onset. I will support what is best for the County of Hawaii.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: I see the solution to the doctor shortage as a problem that can be solved via a County, State, Federal government partnership as there are programs or former programs at each level that can help. In the 1960’s when there was a teacher shortage, the federal government created a program through the NDEA (National Defense Education Act) by which students studying to be teachers could take out low interest loans from the federal government and upon teaching, 10% of the loan was excused each year taught up to five years and 50%. This would help tremendously in financing a doctor’s education, in which today they begin their careers with a high debt to repay.
At the State level, all students signing a contract to practice in Hawaii for 5 years after graduation, could be eligible for resident tuition at the John Burns School of Medicine, once again decreasing their cost of education. Lastly, at the County level we could provide housing assistance for the first 5 years of practice, thus reducing their cost of living and enabling them to pay back their college loans. I went through college under the NDEA program and benefited from it and also lived in a teacher’s cottage with a low rent subsidized by the State. Because of these two benefits, I taught on the Big Island with a much heavier teaching preparation load, instead of Oahu where I would have taught the same subject all day ( but at a much higher cost of living) so I could pay off my student loans. It worked!
10. HILO LANDFILL: It is often stated “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” We need to look at rubbish disposal holistically. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra needs to be re-sequenced to Reuse, Recycle, Reduce with an emphasis on reusing items that can be reused, recycling those usable for other purposes thus leading to a reduction in trash and extending the life of our landfills. Re-routing waste to West Hawaii is not the answer as their population is increasing quickly and they will need space themselves. Alternate landfill sites have been suggested on the East side and these should be looked into. However, I see an educational campaign needed to reduce trash with a greater emphasis on reuse and recycling.
My administration would work with each district to determine what kinds of trash they could use in their area and form “magnet districts/zones” that specific trash could be hauled to and reused and recycled. For example, if we labeled Kohala, Hamakua and Puna as “Agricultural Magnet Zones,” green waste and sewage sludge could be hauled to a designated co-composting area adopting what has been done on Maui to produce fertilizer for landscaping and other purposes. Other magnet zones might produce construction products or road pavement materials. Part of becoming sustainable is the need to be creative in our use of materials produced here and those imported. As we are all aware, the cost of shipping makes our prices higher and the more we can do locally the better. Also knowing we continue to import most of our food and goods which is said will last only 2 weeks if shipping stops, we need to work more diligently toward sustainability adopting and adapting methods used by other states and countries that have already been successful in this endeavor and creating those unique to Hawaii.
Combat veteran, 28 ½ years in US Army Intelligence, retired in the rank of Colonel; 3 ½ years with the Organization for Peace and Cooperation in Europe – a 55 nation international peace-keeping and conflict organization, headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
Responsible for the conduct of the Bosnian elections in the mid-1990’s. Eight years on the Hawaii County Council – two years as Council Chair. Currently in my seventh year on the Board of Directors of the West Hawaii Community Health Center.
Served four years on the Board of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra. Organized the Waikoloa Senior Center, served nine years as its President, continues on its Board of Directors. Is currently a substitute teacher at the Waikoloa Middle School. Currently on the Board of Directors for Community Enterprises – organizes public forums on the west side of Hawaii Island. Served on one statewide commission for the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu – Affordable Housing and Homelessness. Currently serving on the Stewardship Commission for the Diocese of Honolulu.Served on the Board of Regents for the University of Hawaii. Cast member for the last three musical productions of the Aloha performing Arts Center. Nineteen year veteran of the Kupuna Softball League. Participates in numerous other community and church organizations.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: To begin my term as Mayor, I will contract for an outside Independent Auditor to review County spending policies and procedures. During my term, I will insist the County Auditor make frequent reviews of the County’s budget and spending policies and my administration’s adherence to them. Integrity and ethics begin with me and I will tolerate no exceptions for any reason. As Mayor I would increase the number of members on the Ethics Committee to nine and insure that this committee and other volunteer boards and committees are kept fully staffed. I will not tolerate lack of quorums or wasted time and taxpayers dollars because of postponed meetings. I will hold regular press conferences, something the previous two administrations did not accomplish. I will provide the media with all information requested that is legal and proper as quickly as possible. There should not be unusual delays.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: I see a need for extensive public outreach to explain, in laymen’s terms, complexities of the budget. The County has failed to do that. I would insure that my administration continues the community meetings which the Kenoi administration initiated and where possible increase their frequency. The idea noted above of regular press conferences will include budget matters and again explanations that can be readily understood by all. I will institute a budget review every six months or more often if required.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: It’s difficult for me not to think we have created a ‘monster’ in our permitting process. I will institute a review immediately upon taking office to understand if there are any duplication of efforts in the process. I am the most pro-active candidate in this race and I assure you that I will work with the County Council, Department heads and other officials to eliminate bottlenecks and reduce untimely delays in this process. One department must be in charge of this effort and the necessary office staff and inspectors must be on hand in order to operate efficiently. Contractors tell me that the system would work better if there are in effect two ‘lines’, one for the professional contractors and developers, and one for the owner/builders.
Obviously, there are different permits and I believe it would make sense to treat these as separate systems in order to increase efficiency. Finally, I’m convinced that there are “best practices” from any number of mainland communities which might apply in our situation. Let’s find them and use them if applicable. I will not be afraid to change the system if it leads to favorable and quicker results, and I will not be afraid to alter current policies if one effort fails. We will keep trying to find a correct solution.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: I believe the potential loss of the TMT will be a cultural, educational and economic catastrophe for Hawaii Island. The TMT represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate the benefits our County has to offer coupled with inestimable economic advantages for us all in the long term. The TMT will bring an influx of tourists to our economy, will be a source of educational chances that cannot be matched elsewhere in the US, and will be a cultural boon for Hawaii and the study of astronomy worldwide. I recognize the sensitivity that many in our local community have for Mauna Kea and do not in any manner wish to compromise that legacy. This must be taken into consideration at every step in the TMT process. Obviously, we cannot think we can short-circuit the permitting process as was done previously. But it remains hard to see the disadvantages for the County if the TMT were to be built. I hope we are not too late to ‘save’ it here on Hawaii Island.
5. HOMELESSNESS: I believe the County’s CHIRP concept, that has taken more than two years to develop, is a worthwhile program that has combined the agencies that must work together to reduce homelessness in our community. The problem is that after all this effort only 24 shelters are now being constructed with a homeless population well over 1,300 individuals. Clearly the current administration’s plans are too slow and too small. Even the larger and better drafted plan that Dr. Cliff Kopp has suggested won’t solve all the requirements, but at least addresses the needs of some of the families and single women who are in the homeless population, which are not part of the current County’s plans for 24 shelters. Land must be found to expand these efforts and the County must obtain significantly more funding from state and federal grants to tackle this problem. Working with our Community College officials, we can create retraining and other educational courses and make them available for those willing to leave the homeless environment. The County must seek significantly more federal, state, and private grants to address this issue and, if necessary for certain limited purposes, General Obligation Bonds could be used as well.
6. TAX REVENUES: I am totally opposed to the idea of increasing the GET. The GET is a regressive tax which penalizes the individuals most in need of support disproportionally. Given the current economic situation and the state of the County’s revenue resources, I do not see an need in the next four years to raise taxes. I see a need to conduct a top to bottom review of the County’s budget to insure that the moneys allocated and being spent wisely and are used effectively. Naturally I will strongly advocate with my fellow-Mayors for our fair share of the Transient Accommodation Tax, but I also look to a much more aggressive program of applying for state and federal grants to add to our revenue stream. I am also in favor of employing the Community Facilities District (Chapter 32 of the County Code)funding mechanism in more instances to address infrastructure shortfalls.
7. SERVICES AND SPENDING: Our current level of services and spending is not in balance with the need of the majority of our residents in our communities. The current administration is not doing enough to address the problem of poverty throughout the island. We must do more to reallocate funds towards this objective. If the County would face a funding shortfall, before raising taxes, I would insure that existing programs and services are really important. The County works under the funding philosophy that if the County collects revenue, it must spend it. I don’t see it that way. Simply because we have money doesn’t mean we can’t save some – put it away in a rainy day fund so to speak – in order to be prepared to address the potential funding shortfalls that might occur. That’s an entirely different process than what we have today. My administration would establish this philosophy as a basis for budgeting immediately upon taking office and, hopefully, we would be better able to address future shortfalls and emergencies without a tax increase.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: I have always been opposed to this merger and I’m glad to see the PUC and the Governor disapproved it.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: I’m not sure the answer lies with the County to solve. We can assist, of course, advocating with the State for liability reform, privatizing hospitals, granting some tax incentives, and similar measures. Further, the County and State must appeal to our federal representatives to gain some relief from the relatively low Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates that are received here in Hawaii, as compared to the reimbursement rates received in Alaska and other rural areas of the country. I also will advocate for a variation in the TAT discussion for this purpose. I would argue that the State provide a greater return in TAT to our County, but with the provision that these additional moneys be placed in a special fund designed to improve health services on the island and with the objective of encouraging doctors to remain here. Finally, I will continue to advocate efforts that assist newly-minted doctors to remain on island with the County providing assistance in loan repayments.
10. HILO LANDFILL: I will not raise the issue of a waste to energy plant as an answer for our solid waste problems. We’ve tried that twice, it failed both times. Let’s move on. There are plenty of good suggestions for reduction of our waste stream contained in the Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, and in my administration the County will much more aggressively pursue the recommendations contained in that plan. Waste will be viewed as a resource when I’m Mayor. I’d like to expand the proposed idea of establishing a mulch-production capability to handle green-waste in each district, particularly in those districts like North Kohala where green-waste comprises upwards of 50% of the waste stream. I recognize that re-routing of waste to West Hawaii may well be required but there are many programs that this County can institute in order to handle more effectively our waste.
I have been a Business Owner, Farmer, Videographer and a working man all of my Life.
I am a UH-Hilo Graduate with a BA Degree in Political Science and Communications, and a minor in Economics. For many years I have been active in politics and have been active in politics and have learned that the traditional well-worn paths practiced
over the years have not led us to the transformational change our Island needs. Ready to take on the tough issues and earn your Vote. Mahalo.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: First, have All new County Ethic Board Members. The County Prosecutor Must prosecute. All who broke our County, State and Federal Rules. Including our County Employees, Department Heads and the Mayor. The Prosecutor will not pass the “Buck,” to the State. Otherwise, I will hire an Independent Attorney and Prosecute, All who are/will Stop the process.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: I promise to “Stop the Shennanigans” first by having an Independent Audit of the County Department of Finance and The Mayor’s new Budget. I promise to Review All County Departments for Effectiveness and Cost of Operations. All findings will be Open to the Media.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: Building Permit Process is only three weeks in Kona, and six weeks in Hilo. Because Hilo have a higher volume. Again, all Department will have a review for Effectiveness and Cost of Operations.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: The TMT and the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo must be Transparent with the Island of Hawai‘i Residents and Native Hawaiian Groups. Yes, we have Island residents working on the site and a very small dollar value for Educational Programs and monies to OHA and DHHL. Who, What and Where, is my question for the TMT and University of Hawaii. TMT and the University, must be transparent and open to the Media questions. By the way, NO one own the mountain. Show me your Land Deed, University or Native Hawaiians. The University of Hawai‘i, is only the managers, who said and by what authority.
5. HOMELESSNESS: The State of Hawai‘i and the County of Hawai‘i, don’t have any plans or ideas presently. We on the Island of Hawai‘i don’t have any place for the Homeless to stay at night. “Under Your Wing”, in Hilo was a place for the Homeless to eat breakfast, shower, select clean used clothes or wash and dry their laundry. Was funding by New Hope Church for years. Now from five hours down to two, Monday to Friday, limited funding. Where is the dollars to help? Most monies go to non-profit organizations, who work eight hours days off on weekends and holiday. Homeless is 24/7.
6. TAX REVENUES: Before thinking of taxing, our working and retired residents. First, the Independent Audit of the County Department of Finance and the Mayor’s new Budget. Will show the waste and redirecting of monies Not in the interest of our Residents. The Transient Accommodations Tax, and our Traffic Ticket fines are taking by the State of Hawai‘i. Every new year the Mayor’s from each County have to be at a hearing in Honolulu. And ask for monies back for the County. Not even 50% comes back to each County.
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: The past two administration were the Big Spenders with less services to the general public. Most spending went to Friends of the administrator. We can not TAX, until we find out, where’s our starting Line. Again, an Independent Audit of the County Department of Finance and the Mayor’s new Budget is the start. Before anything is said, about Taxing.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: The Nextera Merger is in the hands of the State of Hawai‘i. I think a Co-op would be like the Island of Kaua‘i possible, but not realistic. I think HELCO will have a cash flow problem, if Hawai‘i have a wind or storm damage all the same time on O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: Ask for Queens and other Operation to come to this Island and provide some County benefits. On this Island Ka‘u, Kona and Hilo Hospitals, become a private operation. The services to our Residents, and Visitors are more important than the Unions. The private operation will have the cash to pay the Doctors.
10. HILO LANDFILL: The Hilo Land Fill is only four thousand feet from my back yard. I would consider a private Company to run the County Land Fill and build a waste to energy operation. No County Funding. County Employees to supervise the operation.
Harry Kim, youngest son of Korean immigrants, was raised in the plantation lifestyle of Olaa. He has a master’s in Economics from Southern Oregon State University, is a U.S. Army veteran medic, served as Civil Defense Administrator for 24 years, and Mayor for two terms (2000-2008). He’s been invited as a natural disasters response advisor to various countries, U.N., and National Academy of Sciences. He operated a private business, Kea‘au Kim Chee (with mother), for 25+ years. He has been married to Roberta (Bobbie) Keefe for 40+ years, has two sons—Garrett (Hilo) and Mark (Oregon), and two grandchildren.
- PUBLIC FUNDS: The policies in effect are quite adequate to ensure that public funds are used according to law. Concrete steps to be taken include: never violate ethics rules by ensuring that all appointees and employees are trained to know the rules; establish an accountable system to monitor receipts and expenditures; and promote and ensure that all records are made available on request.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: The best way is to establish an atmosphere that encourages availability of information, especially to the media. The media is the public’s watch dog. A system can be developed to make scheduled and easily accessible spending information to all.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: We need to understand that the basic purpose of the building permit system is public safety, and that any streamlining does not compromise the safety of the ultimate users over profit or convenience. This is an issue that needs continuous attention and help by the private sector working together with the government regulators. This has been an ongoing problem that gets worse as codes change and construction heats up. We need to evaluate what has been tried by past administrations to not reinvent the wheel or repeat past failures. We need to talk with contractors, consultants, and plan reviewers to identify and understand the bottlenecks. We need to research and talk with other jurisdictions to see what has worked elsewhere. It could be as simple as clear checklists for consistent reviews and sorting systems to fast-track “easier” projects, or more complicated systems employing sophisticated technology. We would test promising ideas, to refine by doing and not endless brainstorming. It would be premature to discuss funding until the solutions are determined. But the emphasis would be to improve the workflow efficiency rather than to add more employees. If expensive technology needs to be purchased, this could be included in the capital budget to pay by bonds and spread the repayment over time since this would have a long-term benefit.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: The TMT project can be a net positive for Hawai‘i and the universal community. This stems from the continuous quest for knowledge and with that knowledge, make this a better place and better people. The problem of where we are on the TMT project is not of just Mauna Kea, but how we have generally developed this very special place. Issues of culture, of nature, of sensitivity to people and lifestyle, had been so disrespected and disregarded. We need not look far for many examples of this. The Kohanaiki development in Kona is an example of people, who had been in conflict for many years, coming together. The main factor in achieving this was their true will to resolve the issue. “Do not look at Mauna Kea as just a place of science. To others, past and present, it is part of their soul,” I had advised the UH when they first considered development of Mauna Kea. I do believe that the TMT project can be a net positive for the people of this world. This project can be a symbol of countries– China, India, USA, Canada, and Japan– working together in a very special place in this quest for knowledge. This project can also be such a beautiful star of hope for resolving differences based on a true partnership of people. What better place than Hawai‘i, the home of warmth and aloha, to be the model for the world. This I believe can be done, but only if we have the desire.
5. HOMELESSNESS: The homeless crisis is the end result of Hawai‘i developing an economic situation that places so many in a constant struggle of basic survival. The growing number of homeless is frightening; even more frightening is the population at risk of becoming homeless as they live paycheck to paycheck to meet expenses with very little hope for the American Dream. Actionable steps include:
- Create one-stop friendly places to service those who seek help. Such a place has been created in Kona. We need a similar place in Hilo and other areas where the homeless congregate. The Kona facility was built with assistance from the private sector. We should seek such partnerships for future facilities to involve and recognize community-wide participation to resolve this issue.
- Create transition homes and support programs for families with children. As much as possible, we need to provide transitional shelter opportunities for families as a special group of the homeless population. We would need to partner with nonprofits and faith organizations to build and operate such facilities.
- Create central sanitary and comfortable shelter places for those who remain to stay on the street. We need to coordinate with the State who may have land and/or funding initiatives that apply to this segment of the homeless population.
- Create affordable rentals for the hidden, at-risk homeless. We need innovative nonprofit developers to assist in developing rental projects that are affordable to the lower income groups. This requires the County to actively seek out such developers and coordinate where needed.
The long-term solution is to raise the level of skills through our education system, to diversify employment opportunities, to recognize employers who care about their employees, and to diversify housing choices.
6. TAX REVENUES: The G.E. tax is the worse tax system in the U.S. This is a regressive tax that should be changed in the long term, not increased. A regressive tax takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners. The immediate strategy should not be to seek new tax revenue sources, rather to reduce the “direct tax rate” imposed on Hawai‘i’s people. A direct tax, such as property taxes, is one that cannot be passed on such as the G.E. tax that is passed on from the seller to the consumer. One means to reduce the direct tax burden is to receive a larger share of the TAT tax revenues. The counties’ share should be based on a formula that considers the counties’ role in the visitor’s experience. Without a formula, the counties must beg each year. The formula should be based on a study requested by the State Legislature but not followed. Besides lobbying together, the counties should take the findings of that report, translate the impact of not receiving their due share of the TAT and the impact on what the property tax or improved programs could have been with a fair share of the TAT revenues, and use that information to rally the support of constituents.
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: These are some principles that I would follow in setting budgets and tax rates that try to anticipate financial situations and avoid year to year reactionary responses:
- Try to determine an optimum level of service. We would try to do this based on objective standards to the extent reasonable. For example, how large should the police force be? Perhaps we could develop an acceptable standard based on the number of officers per 1000 persons. But developing those standards may not be simple. For example, if we based the adequate number of police officers only on population, large sparsely populated areas of our island such as Ka’u would not have the number of officers to respond within an acceptable response time. The standards should also give more weight to public health and safety, and other critical needs.
- In good times, maintain and not increase the optimum level of service and allocate any “surplus” to Rainy Day funds, disaster emergency funds, or retirement obligations. Reduce tax rates if projections forecast surpluses in upcoming years. When times are bad, the Rainy Day fund would enable maintaining the optimum level of service without increasing taxes.
- Control fixed expenses. Control salaries by establishing an optimum employment size. Control utility and vehicular costs through renewable energy source investments. Control debt by limiting bond funding to prudent percentages of conservative revenue projections.
- Acknowledging the limited debt funding capacity, carefully prioritize capital projects with input from the community.
- Encourage development in the right places. Viable communities can increase property values. Higher tax values generate more revenue without increasing tax rates.
- Control the burden on homeowners. As property values increase, the previous administration established a cap on the tax increase to spread the impact over time for situations where the values dramatically increase.
- Determine fair tax burdens. Close loop holes that may exist. For example, if agricultural incentives are being abused, there should be reform. The additional revenues generated by closing loop holes avoid the need to raise tax rates on others.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: As it is now known, this is a mute question as the PUC wisely rejected the merger. My support would be to organize a knowledgeable working group with only one mission: to review and recommend the best alternative to meet the long-term power needs of this State.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: This is a problem faced by most rural communities across the nation. The County government must be involved in all aspects of this problem. The County can take a leadership role to bring people together, encourage innovative solutions, and find resources. The residency program is an example of how the community was very instrumental in saving this program for Hawai‘i Island.
10. HILO LANDFILL: The County administration is required to follow the “Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan.” The current plan in effect committed the County to a policy of “zero waste” and encourage actions towards reducing, reusing, and recycling. This 2009 plan was to be updated every five years, but State law changed the requirement to 10 years. Updating the plan should be a high priority of the next administration. This update should consist of appointing a citizens committee with diverse interests, and providing them with the best information and expertise to establish the most appropriate and sustainable action plan for our County.
Wally Lau was born and raised on Oʻahu in a large family which instilled in him the values of respect, fairness, humility and aloha—values that he will use to navigate the issues facing Hawaiʻi Island and balance the needs of our economy, environment and people.
He is an experienced leader—he educated youth with Kamehameha Schools and Salvation Army, built stronger families through the Neighborhood Place of Kona, and served alongside Mayor Billy Kenoi as Managing Director of the County.
With Wally as part of the senior leadership team since 2008, the County managed the budget responsibly through tough economic times and the recovery that followed, delivering needed services to residents while protecting programs for our keiki and kūpuna. In Waimea, this administration built the Waimea District Park, improved Māmalahoa Highway, and expanded Hele-On Bus service to alleviate traffic congestion.
Wally serves on the board of Hawaiʻi Island United Way, bringing together people and resources to serve our community, and the board of Kīpuka O Ke Ola, a non-profit focused on improving Native Hawaiian health in North Hawaiʻi. He is also a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha.
Wally graduated from Damien Memorial High School and earned a degree in sociology from Central Washington State College. With his wife Sandra, Wally has a son Kawika, daughter-in-law Lahela, two grandchildren, and a great grandson. Wally’s grandparents are from Nāʻālehu and Keauhou, and he is proud to be back home serving the people of Hawaiʻi Island.
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: We have a good set of rules to govern expenditure of public funds, but two things are absent, one is a system of checks and balances so any wrongdoing by the administration or the council would be brought immediately by the director of finance to the attention of the other branch of government. The other missing element is more training and implementation of consistent monitoring under the oversight of the finance director, along with proper application of sanctions, penalties and consequences for any misuse of funds.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: I fully support making all public documents and records promptly available for review. Ideally, this can be done through the county web site with digital documents and records to simplify the search process and costs incurred by the county for tracking down and copying requested records. Public documents are and must be made public.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: The county has made progress, but more is needed. I will institute a better software to trace applications and permits to ensure transparency, allow predictability and better coordination between all levels of county review. Using this technology, the applicant can go on line and find out where a permit is in the process. Additional training is needed for plan checkers to inspectors for consistency in handling the applications and improving internal communication, as well as more internal monitoring for consistency and compliance. The county should support, not hinder the economic process
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: I support astronomy for the many benefits it can offer our people: education and job opportunities for local people, from construction to operation. Therefore I support the Thirty Meter Telescope. However, in regard to the telescope, TMT needs to go through two processes: cultural protocol and the permitting process. Do the right thing, but do it the right way. There needs to be a larger discussion regarding management, care and proper stewardship of Mauna Kea. We need to bring together the various stakeholders, from cultural practitioners, astronomers, hunters, tour businesses, bikers and landowners to discuss what is pono, or right, for the mountain.
5. HOMELESSNESS: Addressing homelessness is not only a quality of life issue, but it is our kuleana to our neighbors, family and friends. My policy is one of housing first, to help get our homeless safely under roofs so they can begin untangling the issues they are facing. It will take a diverse mix of housing from micro-units to affordable rentals, and it will take a diverse mix of services from government and social service providers to address this issue. There should be more “Friendly Places” in more communities. I will also lobby vigorously for significant funding for mental health and substance abuse services. Those funding sources will be state, federal and private sector grants and contributions.
6. TAX REVENUES: I do not support an increase in the GET, as was proposed by the Legislature, for transportation purposes. Before seeking new tax funding and increasing the burden on our residents with more taxes, we have to show we can do better with what we already have. I strongly support an increase in the county’s percentage allocation of the TAT and will lobby to see that increased, as was recommended recently by the commission studying how those room tax fees are allocated. The state Legislature controls TAT allocation and must be convinced through a coordinated effort of all neighbor island mayors that counties deserve a greater percentage of the collected funds.
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: The county can improve its delivery of existing services under the current budget with improved efficiencies, and there is room for spending, including money to leverage 80% federal loans for needed new roads. We have to spend smarter and be wiser with public money. There always exists a possibility of increased expenses because of emergencies or unanticipated events, like the past recession. In that event, we need to look at all areas and methods for savings before we consider any tax increase. I know how to look for efficiencies without compromising public safety or services to the most vulnerable in our community.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: One significant problem with the NextEra proposal was the lack of concrete demonstrated savings for ratepayers. Any proposal, whether a new suitor for HEI or a co-op model, must consider two critical factors: guaranteed significantly lower rates for consumers, and a course that embraces a 100 percent renewable energy future. It must also be dependable.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: This is primarily a problem of low reimbursement rates by insurers for doctors, which insurers base upon artificially low Medicare rates. I would lobby our federal government to increase our Medicare reimbursement rate, as the late Sen. Ted Stevens did for Alaska. I will seek support from our Legislature for this problem, which is well known to the Hawaii Hospital Systems Corporation, the state Department of Health and the Legislature. I will publicly support initiatives that will result in improved health care opportunities for our residents.
10. HILO LANDFILL: Our solid waste begins with each of us. Landfills are not a solution to our problem. With the Hilo landfill near or at capacity, we must continue to pursue solid waste diversion programs, including the zero waste concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle, wherever possible. The good news is we have already reduced the waste we landfill, from 1.6 tons per person per year to 1.2 tons. But that is not enough. The goal must be to landfill only what we must and if needed — as a last resort — we will truck to Puuanahulu. I will also work with the County Council to investigate ways to improve diversion and explore emerging technologies for waste reduction.
Helen Ole Luta
I was born on this Hawaii Island to the late Emedio and Lily Luta, I am half Filipino and half Hawaiian, plus the youngest of six children. I am currently a Special Education Teacher and 55 years old. I was born in Kohala and lived in Kawaihae behind Doi Store with my parents and siblings. At the age of three, we moved to the Captain Cook area where I lived growing up as a coffee farmer. My father instilled in us that we have lots of resources around us and to make sure that we don’t take things for granted…ever! I feel that I am qualified to hold this office seeing the issues that I and many others are not happy with; I have integrity, I am also honest and trustworthy, I am a hard worker who will fight for the right changes, I get things done, and the list goes on. Mahalo!
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: When you are sworn in to office, you take an oath that you will abide by the rules pertaining to the use of public funds. One of the things that I used to believe was that it didn’t matter who got into office because the campaign money received can be very persuasive or better yet, money talks. The Campaign spending commission puts strict reporting on candidate and I feel that it is a great system to follow; monitoring spending twice a month. Councils can monitor me and I monitor the Councils on our expenditures or open up use of the purchase card to the public.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: I would be all for transparent spending since that would be a way that the public can view my expenditures. This would be one of the concrete steps to not violate the use of public funds.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: The building permit process is not an issue that I am familiar with as to the process of obtaining one but I would definitely be involved on the creating of a standard operating procedure of to cover any questions and time frames.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: The TMT issue can go either way. In everything thing that is done, there is the pro and con of what will be. Let’s take the TMT for instance. This project is to generate money and jobs. Generate money to who or what? Jobs for who; maybe the construction site to level the ground and to the companies that transport the equipment? It is a delicate telescope with lots of mirrors so the professionals would be the employed to come here to build it together. Mauna Kea is one of the resources of water. Water that flows through the ahapua’a to nourish our soil and plants that eventually we use for food or gathering. I think that there are thirteen telescopes up on Mauna Kea already and that nine is not in operations. I feel that Mauna Kea plays a huge role in keeping Hawaii Island safe from the hurricanes or tropical storms. I would hate to feel that we never protected the mountain that protected us. The way that disasters have been coming, I don’t think having a huge development built on a dormant volcano is a wise choice.
5. HOMELESSNESS: Today, homelessness is being handled by non-profit organizations as well as churches. The County Office of Development is already setting up a Micro Unit Project of 32 containers that will house some of the homeless to be completed by October 31st. For each person that qualifies to move in, services need to be activated. Although that doesn’t service all the homeless, it will help for now. Eventually with the help of non-profits, churches, or private organizations plus families, it would help lesson the numbers. The Federal Grant in Aid can help as a funding source plus other resources can be tapped into.
6. TAX REVENUES: I do not feel that a 0.5 percent GET surcharge is necessary. I do feel that the $463,000,000 budget needs to be looked at again plus looking at other resources that has not been tapped in to. When the TAT is paid, it is paid by county (Hawaii, Maui, etc.). I would like to know how the distribution was made. Being that the State already has the GET, I feel that each county needs to be paid according to what the county TAT is being paid. It would be interesting to see if the percentage that the county receives is an actual percentage or not.
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: If we did face a shortfall of funding, I wouldn’t raise the taxes and programs are already cut as slim as it needs to be. One of the things that I would change would be the vehicles that aren’t necessary. For example, there are a lot of vehicles that are for “county use”. Some vehicle I can see is needed for specific use but if we deplete the ones that are not needed and go to mileage on employees personal vehicle, there would be less cost factors.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: I feel that NextEra merger may be a monopoly of higher prices for service. I would be in favor of have a public-owned utility model that is localized and keep the jobs here.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: The doctors today are utilizing the Next Generation Electronic Medical Records that need to be input at time of service which leads to more time on the computer and less time to the patient. Because of this program doctors are seeing half or less than half of their patients which cuts the doctor’s salary to half if they get paid in a timely fashion. The County would need to help advocate on behalf of doctors that a better system be put in to place. This is also something that the community can be involved with as well.
10. HILO LANDFILL: As the Mayor, I would continue re-routing the waste to West Hawaii since it is in an isolated area that would be amongst lava and not soil where seepage would happen sooner. I know that waste-to-energy has been pursued more than once in the past but has not measured up to par. But like all things, the pros and cons need to be looked at. At this point, re-routing needs to happen until more land area can be looked at for another landfill.
My name is Shannon K.K. McCandless, I am a resident of Waimea, and a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian Studies and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Currently, I work for the County of Hawai’i as the Supervising Driver License Examiner. My experience working within the County stems over 6½ years, where I have witnessed firsthand that a change is needed to insure a successful future.
Through my years in the County, I have seen the various facets of government; how the organization works, who the players are, as well as the needs and challenges of departments and government as a whole. In my current position, I have acquired the knowledge and honed my skills and experience by overseeing a budget of 1.4 million dollars, personnel, the hiring process, as well as working with various governmental agencies at the federal, state, county, and non-profit level.
My passion and commitment to my community includes my involvement with Parker Ranch Cub Scouts Pack 27 where I was a Den leader and Assistant Cub Master. I am also a part of the Waimea Lion’s Club where I am the education committee chair, and the eye, sight, and hearing chair. As a parent, I know how precious our children are and understand that it is our responsibility as parents and leaders today to leave Hawai’i a better place for them.
I am running for Hawai’i County Mayor because we need a leader who has the knowledge, ability, fortitude, and vested long term interest to plan for Hawai’i Island’s future. Our focus as a community needs to be geared towards making Hawai’i sustainable, affordable, and prosperous for the present as well as the long term future. We need a change Hawai’i, the time is now!
1. PUBLIC FUNDS: The following recommendations are measures that need to be implemented to foster trust in government, and transparency of government spending. The Ethics Committee needs to change from six members to nine members, as per the number of voting districts on Hawai’i Island. Members of the committee should not be appointed by the Mayor, as they currently are. Instead, County Council should nominate three individuals from each district to be publically interviewed and reviewed. One candidate from the three nominees shall be selected, and shall serve no more than a four year consecutive term limit.
Secondly, all personnel who are in possession or have access to use of a purchasing card shall go to training to insure that all policies and procedures of its use and purpose are clearly understood. This training should also clearly define the consequences of any misuse of government funds, and disciplinary actions. All employees should attend this training prior to being issued a purchasing card.
Third, I would like an audit to take place biannually in regards to purchasing card expenditures to insure that public funds are being used properly, and purchases are made according to Finance Director Rules and Hawai’i County Purchasing Procedures.
2. TRANSPARENT SPENDING: I will continue to publish, Holomua, the newsletter of the Office of Mayor. Each publication will be made available online and in print at all County offices. Holomua will include projects that are actively being planned, active projects, and completed. In addition, the amount spent and funding source will be included.
In addition, all audits and recommendations will be made available to the public within a timely manner and will be posted on the County website. The ethics committee will have full disclosure, power, and support of the Mayor to exercise their discretion in regards to the ethics and legality of government spending and operations.
3. BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS: Communication and education are key elements to streamlining the building permit process. The County can do a better job at advertising the new streamline process that is accessible online. We can more effectively market this tool to the public by featuring it as a cover story on the main County website, radio segments with the website information notifying the public of the new streamlined process, and having workshops island wide to insure that the information is getting out into the community, being clearly understood, and questions can be answered.
In addition to communication and education, I will look at the building department to insure that there is sufficient staffing to handle the volume of permits being received and reviewed, and that staff are properly trained, and have the necessary tools to complete their job.
Lastly, I will work with the Director of Public Works to make sure policies and procedures are in place and are being followed island wide so that we are being consistent in the information that is given out and that the review process is transparent and clearly understood by the public.
Funding for implementations will first come from the Public Works operating budget; any additional funds will be subject to review with possible funding coming from public and private partnerships.
4. THIRTY METER TELESCOPE: TMT can be both a net positive and net negative depending on how closely TMT is willing to work with our Hawai’i Island residents. Monetarily, TMT will help to increase Hawai’i County’s revenue by the creation of jobs in the construction, science, engineering, and education sector. This alone, will help to promote our island home around the world and will encourage the science and business community to do business here.
Furthermore, TMT will help to create more STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs and opportunities in Hawai’i. This will help to increase the 15% influx of STEM jobs that have already been slated to come to Hawai’i over the next few years.
TMT’s net negative for Hawai’i Island’s community will depend on TMT’s willingness to have a dialogue with residence. Better communication and outreach with the community to understand concerns, cultural awareness, and compromise is vital in the near future to seeing the development and acceptance of this project in our community.
5. HOMELESSNESS: Homelessness is a multi-faceted issue that needs to be address from several perspectives. The first are families, who cannot afford to the current rental market or a mortgage. These families should be placed into transitional housing where services are offered to insure that children are registered and are attending school, they have medical services, and adults receive educational and vocational services, as well as health care, food, and credit/money management services. Public and private partnerships along with grants and in kind donations will be required to pay for housing, services, and food. The intent of transitional housing is to set a time frame, in conjunction with services to help individuals who are capable to re-establish financial independence and security.
The second approach to addressing homelessness is individuals needing mental health and medical services for diagnosed and undiagnosed medical conditions. Housing and services need to be a priority to make sure that our communities are safe and functional. Funding for homeless situations such as these should paid for by federal agencies if applicable (Food & Drug Administration, Veterans Affairs), State, County, and non-profit organizations.
The County needs to start having a dialogue with agencies and individuals that are already actively working the homeless population to identify where assistance is needed first. What are the pressing issues, needs, and priorities. Organizations such as Hope Services Hawai’i, Salvation Army, local food banks, faith based organizations, and individuals such as Dr. Kopp need to be given a seat at the table to help address homelessness.
6. TAX REVENUES: Hawai’i Island faces unique challenges in comparison to the rest of the state just by the size and amount of distance between locations. As the youngest island and least developed, Hawai’i County is still feeling the growing pains that other counties have been addressing since the 1960’s (i.e. roads, water, sewage, etc.) There are several ways that we can continue to grow our infrastructure, while keeping additional taxation to a minimum.
Hawai’i County should first seek out funding through grants. There are various grant opportunities from the federal, state, and non-profit sector that we could tap into in order to defray cost.
An alternative funding source is to establish public and private partnerships. By establishing partnerships, cost and expertise can be shared and managed.
For infrastructure cost, expanding our health care services, and public safety, I will ask for an increase in our Transient Accommodation Tax since these services don’t only serve our communities but also directly affect the health and wellbeing of our tourism industry.
Lastly, I would consider an increase in the G.E. tax for infrastructure purposes, as well as reassessing County fees to defray cost of services rendered.
7. SERVICES and SPENDING: Currently, the County is spending a lot of money on capital improvements. These improvements are not cheap, and do require government to spend in order to keep up with a growing population such as ours.
At the County’s current state, I do believe that we are not offering enough services to the community. However, rather than increase taxes, I’d like to explore other funding alternatives such as grants, matching programs, and federal aid to fund the additional services that our communities so desperately need.
8. NEXTERA MERGER: Living in the most secluded place on earth, surrounded by ocean, I do believe that a public-owned utility is more conducive to building a collaborative process in our communities, and better for our local economy. A co-op helps to create local jobs at all levels, gives our children more access to educational opportunities, helps to diversify local knowledge, expertise, and is more cost effective for customers.
9. DOCTOR SHORTAGE: The County needs to work with the State along with insurance companies to help increase the reimbursement rate so that doctors can get paid fairly for services rendered. To help retain doctors and to encourage new doctors, the County through the Research and Development department can work on creating more residency programs within our County. This would need to be done by working with the University of Hawai’i, medical facilities both large and small, and non-profit organizations to encourage our medical students to stay here in Hawai’i to practice medicine, and to encourage more young people to seek opportunities in the medical field because they see the potential and resources to do well for themselves.
10. HILO LANDFILL: The Hilo landfill is at or approaching safe capacity levels and could face closure during the next administration if changes are not made. Various solutions have been proposed, including re-routing waste to West Hawai`i and the construction of a waste-to-energy plant. What direction would pursue as mayor?
Hilo landfill is scheduled to close within the next four years; this is dependent on the volume of trash being dumped over the next several years that will determine if this four year period increases or decreases. As a County, we must find another alternative to either keep Hilo landfill open or find another location to establish a landfill/recycling center.
Within the next four years, I want to see the County do a better job at recycling. This can be done by creating sorting stations at the transfer station chutes, where people can easily dispose of their waste and recycle at one, easy, quick location.
Lastly, I’d like our County to explore alternative methods to disposing and using our trash. Methods to be explored and increased is using our landfills to create biomass in order to create energy, and recycling materials such as plastic to be repurposed into bricks that can be used to build homes. This technology is already being done in South America, and can be used as a mechanism to help address the homeless crisis here in Hawai’i.