comscore District 04 - Eileen Ohara

District 04 – Eileen Ohara

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Full Name: M. Eileen O’Hara

Name on Ballot: Eileen Ohara

Age: 64

District / office: Hawaii County Council District 4

Email Address:

Current Job: University faculty

Place of birth: Wilmington, DE

Campaign website:

Job history past 10 years:

Faculty at University of Hawaii at Hilo (College of Business & Economics; College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management): full time since 2013 and part time since 1997. Since 2007, I’ve worked as visiting faculty at DeVry University and Kaplan University. I teach economics, agbusiness, environmental management & policy, and technical writing.

Business specialist for Big Island Biodiesel plant from 2007-2011.

State contract manager, 2006-2007, Hilo Medical Center, Hawaii Health Systems Corp.

County Recycling Coordinator, Department of Environmental Management, County of Hawaii, 2003-06.

Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?

I haven’t run for a public office, although have been elected to community associations and appointed/confirmed by state Senate and County Council to serve on boards and commissions. I have been staff on two political candidate campaigns in the past.

Other civic experience or community service?

President, Hawaiian Shores Community Association for five years from February 2011 until April 2016.

County Cost of Government Commission 2010-11

State Environmental Council, commissioner 2004-08.

Member, American Association of University Women

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

I am endorsed by Hawaii Government Employees Association and Sierra Club. I’ve successfully acquired millions in federal and private grant funds for community projects. I worked at Hawaii Electric Light Co. as a solar specialist in the 1990s, served as executive director for Recycle Hawaii and was a founding member of Hawaii Organic Farmers Association.

What makes you qualified to be a Council member?

I’ve lived in lower Puna 35 years serving as president for two homeowner associations and participating in neighborhood watch. I was campaign staff for our state senator in 2012 and worked in local government developing budgets and drafting legislation. I’m a people person who gets things done responsibly.

What are your top five priorities for the county?

Improve police services in Lower Puna with better oversight, technology and training.

Solve the landfill issue and promote recycling of valuable resources.

Improve county roadways and provide alternative access into lower Puna

Increase availability of public transportation services.

Encourage more small business creation, job growth and coordinate community markets.

What is your one big idea?

Increase the effectiveness of our county police by strengthening oversight, encouraging adoption of technologies that improve effectiveness and ensuring adequate training for officers. Our Police Commission has been plagued with vacancies in the current administration; reducing its ability to provide oversight. We need to consider alternative ways to provide accountability.

The Hilo landfill is nearing capacity. When it closes, should trash from East Hawaii be hauled to the Puuanahulu landfill, or not?

Puuanahulu can accommodate the island’s waste for 75 years. The Department of Health permit requires 40 acres be used for resource recovery efforts (composting, metal recycling, etc.). With better trucks and trailers, we can haul trash from the already constructed Hilo Sort Station via the Saddle Road during off-peak hours.

The basic fare for the Hele-On bus system is $2, but the system still requires taxpayer subsidies to operate. The county has demonstrated that a lower fare can increase ridership. Should the fare be reduced, increased or left the same?

I support reducing fares! Let’s consider life cycle costs first. We are currently using outdated buses acquired second hand and maintenance has become costly, as has fuel. Let’s consider investing in a new fleet, potentially using electric or hydrogen fueled vehicles, to reduce long-term operating costs.

The gasoline tax in Hawaii County is now 8.8 cents per gallon, about half that of Kauai, Maui and Oahu. Do you support increasing the county gas tax to provide more funding for maintenance of county roads and the Hele-On bus system?

We all suffer from poor conditions of county roadways with high traffic mortality rates and injuries. We need safer roads! Homeowner associations should not shoulder the full cost of maintaining private roads that serve as public corridors. Tax credits for low-income households could off-set increases in fuel taxes.

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