Full name: Jennifer Ruggles
Name on ballot: Jen Ruggles
District / office: County Council, District 5
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current job: 808 Tree Care LLC, accounting consultant and marketing director
Place of birth: Hilo
Campaign website: www.jenruggles.com
Job history past 10 years:
College of Business and Economics senator (2015)
Pesticide Action Network North America, community organizer (2013)
The Family Farm Orchard, seasonal harvester (2012-15)
Royal Hawaiian Farms, laborer (2013)
Community organizing class instructor (2013)
Green Collar Technologies, event coordinator (2012-13)
Brent.FM, webmaster and business administrator (2012)
Voter Owned Hawaii intern (2010-12)
Ola Hawaiʻi 2020, legislative cause related marketing and web production (2012)
Elderly chauffeur (2005-10)
Smugglers Micro-Brewery, waitress (2009)
Blanes Drive-Inn, counter clerk (2005-07)
Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?
Other civic experience or community service?
1. I volunteered for five years as the main organizer for Global H.O.P.E., a registered independent student organization at University of Hawaii at Hilo.
a. Organized over 50 events all free and open the public.
b. Lead a successful 2-year campaign passing public beach access bill engaging 5,485 supporters.
2. Volunteer event coordinator for TEDxHilo, for TEDxHilo Change 2013.
3. Co-founder, treasurer and student reporter for UH Hilo’s first student union.
4. Sen. Russell Ruderman campaign event coordinator (2012)
5. Let’s Grow Hilo volunteer planting downtown Hilo with permaculture landscaping.
6. Nanawale Food Basket volunteer.
7. Surfrider beach cleanup volunteer.
Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
Being raised in the district, I see our struggles and I see our potential. I see how Puna is underserved and underrepresented. I’m running because I want to break down the barriers that keep us from being a sustainable, safe and economically thriving community.
What makes you qualified to be a Council member?
My experience combined with my passion is what makes me qualified to hold this office. Having passed bills at the state and county levels, I have record of bringing diverse people together, facilitating, navigating laws/policies and finding solutions. Every campaign I’ve led has seen success.
What are your top five priorities for the county?
1. Better roads.
2. More jobs; make it easier for local business, increase infrastructure in Puna, encourage green collar job growth (including clean energy and waste/resource recovery).
3. Improved bus system.
4. Support for agriculture.
5. Safer neighborhoods.
What is your one big idea?
Restore the trust of the public for our local government by actually representing the public’s interest over big money. Integral is empowering community associations to be fully functioning community centers that provide good roads, commercial kitchens and farmers markets that can be a voice for residents cultivating home-rule.
The Hilo landfill is nearing capacity. When it closes, should trash from East Hawaii be hauled to the Puuanahulu landfill, or not?
Temporarily, yes. Hauling is already being done. In the long term, we need to redouble our efforts to fulfill our 2009 Zero Waste goals set in the county charter. We need focus on 100 percent resource recovery implementing a recycling industry that creates jobs and preserves our greatest resource, the environment.
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?
Keep the basic fare for those who can afford it. Provide lower fares for elderly, students and those who will buy quarterly passes.
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?
No, it is a regressive tax and not until we get a fair formula for distribution of existing taxes. Vast majority of miles driven in Puna are not on county roads, but private roads. I will work with our state representatives and council colleagues to look at a comprehensive solution.