Name on ballot:
Previous job history:
Elected Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney 2012-2016, 2016-2020
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Hawaii County 1998-2012
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney City and County of Honolulu 1993-1998
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
My top three qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii as mayor are:
1. I have substantial leadership in government; I currently run a County Department with over 120 of some of the hardest working employees in the County, and a budget of over 11 Million dollars. This has given me the hands-on experience in working with County rules and issues, which will be important in leading the County successfully as Mayor.
2. I am an attorney and I understand the law, how to read it, and how to interpret it. This is important because the Mayor will be in charge of signing legislation into laws, and currently the County is interpreting some of our laws in ways that prohibit our citizens from thriving. Furthermore, it is important that the next Mayor work within the bounds of the law and propose changes that are constitutional to avoid lawsuits and other pitfalls.
3. Finally, I am an innovative problem solver who has real experience creating positive changes in the community and in county government. Some of these initiatives include starting the first Community Oriented Prosecution program in the State and in Hawaii County, Pahoa Weed and Seed, the Visitors Aloha Society of Hawaii Island (VASH), Shattered Dreams youth alcohol prevention program, Hawaii County Citizens Emergency Response Teams (CERT), the Pacific Islander Youth Empowerment Summit (PACYES), and the first Restorative Justice Program in a prosecutor’s office in the country. This is important because the next Mayor will need to be an innovative problem solver if we are going to rise above the challenges of today and thrive as a County.
What will be your top priority if elected?
One of my top priorities will be to change the philosophy and culture of government to one that helps people and businesses thrive rather than just exist. This change starts with selecting the right cabinet members who agree with this philosophy, encouraging collaboration and teamwork among departments, being physically present and represented across the island, and fostering a culture of dignity and respect among all county employees.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
As many of the big changes in dealing with COVID-19 have been relegated to the Governor, the Mayor will have to be an advocate to safely get our unemployed residents back to work. The county should also have clear and consistent communication with its constituents to make sure timely and accurate information is being shared.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
County government should help stimulate the economy by pushing forward shovel-ready CIP jobs, streamline and standardize the permitting process to reduce “red tape” and encourage business, and work within each department to find where waste can be reduced to cut down the County budget without cutting services to the public.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and what should the county government’s role be in the process?
I support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. I believe that our entire community benefits from the economic and educational opportunities TMT and our astronomy industry provides. I also understand that TMT represents deeply felt issues for many Native Hawaiians and I know there are longstanding concerns regarding the stewardship of Mauna Kea over the past 50 years. Although the decision as to whether or not TMT is built ultimately rests with the state and TMT themselves, County government’s role is to provide leadership that can move the dialogue forward in an open, inclusive manner. I am committed to doing this as Mayor. Bringing people together to solve challenging problems is what I have been doing my entire professional career.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
Hawaii’s police reform issues are very different from what is being seen on the mainland. Our police department is the most ethnically diverse police department in the country. Furthermore, Hawaii has a long history of instituting community-oriented policing which has helped our police department build better relationships within our community. That being said, the Hawaii County Police Department continues to undergo various types of reform to come into and remain compliant with the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Standards (CALEA). I support the continuation of these reforms to consistently improve policing in Hawaii.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I have and always will be committed to improving the quality of life for my community. I have dedicated my entire career and personal life to helping people. In addition to the initiatives I mentioned starting above, I have been very active in community groups and organizations. I am currently a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island and of Camp Agape Big Island, a four-day camp for children of incarcerated parents. I am also a member of the Rotary Club of Hilo and of Hilo Exchange Club.
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