Name on ballot:
Stacy K. Higa
Hawaii island mayor
President and CEO Na Leo TV
Previous job history:
Executive Director Hawaii Commission for National and Community Services
General Manager Ed & Don’s Hawaii
VP Lava Rock Printing
President Pacific Image Company
SNJ Sports -Owner
VP & General Manager B&C Industrial & Marine, Inc.
Branch Manger Kauai- Maguire Bearing Company
Previous elected office, if any:
2004-2008 Hawaii County Council, Chair 06-08
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
Business leadership experience running small to mid size companies with various budgets and sales ranging from 300K-4 million dollars annual, Government experience as County Council member and Executive Director of a State Commission that handled Americorps funding for State of Hawaii, and recently running a non profit as it’s President & CEO with a budget of 1.7 million dollars annually. I have a diverse and well rounded resume in leading various organizations. I believe that I have the needed experience to guide our county through what I think will be one of the most difficult recoveries that any of us have experienced.
What will be your top priority if elected?
Kick starting our economy and making sure that we keep as many people employed as possible. At the same time balancing and making sure that we provide the needed protections and preparations for managing the second, third and more waves of Covid cases. Until we have a cure or vaccine, our communities and way of life will be severely impacted. It is imperative that our next Mayor and administration understand how to navigate State, County and Federal agencies. Survival of our communities will be my top priority if elected Mayor of Hawaii County.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
The County should make sure that there is a coordinated and consistent message from all Counties and the Governor. We need a comprehensive and organized plan that will allow each County to protect its citizens. We need to coordinate and work with our health care system, to ensure that we as a community can manage and mitigate any challenges to properly respond to a spike anywhere on our island. Then we need to coordinate and properly respond to ensure that community spread is mitigated and controlled as best as possible, thru either Civil Defense or our first responder network. Planning and preparation as described is what we need to do more of.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
The County under my leadership would be very proactive in understanding and helping our residents. Because I have experience in business, government, and non profit sectors, I know how to negotiate and create win win scenarios to help our affected residents. The County will take the LEAD in organizing and providing resources to aid residents affected. No Free lunch, but we will work to provide opportunities to retrain people as part of workforce development, because our economic plan will have to be more than tourism.
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?
Yes I support building TMT. I look at astronomy as an economic driver, similar to construction or tourism. The County’s role is to ensure that all laws are enforced, and that all citizens are safe while on the mountain. I believe in home rule. Therefore anything happening on our island, the mayor should always have a stance on it, instead of abdicating or saying it is a state or federal issue. Anything on Hawaii Island, is a Hawaii Island Issue. Hawaiian issues are much greater than TMT. As a native Hawaiian and graduate of Kamehameha Schools, I want to be the Mayor to help mediate and solve our differences. All of this has to be done with in the framework of following the law. I was taught that everything is sacred from the ocean to the mountain, and everything in between. I was also taught that our laws are sacred as well. I believe that Maunakea is the GREATEST spot in the world to view the heavens, and as a Hawaiian, I would be honored to SHARE this greatness with the world, because sharing is part of our DNA.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
I believe that our Police Department is one of the best in the nation. There is always room for improvement. Hawaii has always been racially diverse, and I think historically we don’t see the type of incidents that are taking place on the mainland.
Educating and providing training in how to maintain professionalism at all times should be supported and funded. I would scrutinize my appointments to the Police Commission to make sure that members understand the importance on serving on the Commission and the important responsibility they have. Reform is such a powerful word, as it insinuates that things are not right. I believe there will always be good and bad actors in all departments, and how we deal with those bad actors might be the only reform that I would be interested in. I am proud of our police department, and they would have a very supportive Mayor in me, if elected to lead.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Born and raised in Hilo, my 40 year work history has provided me with a well rounded resume that I feel will be beneficial to our communities. I understand the frustration that our west side of the island feels in regards to the disparity of services they get. I have a very comprehensive plan in how to “balance” the needs of our entire island, because that has been my forte in identifying and solving problems. I believe and will show thru actions, that one island and one future is not just a dream, but it is a PROMISE if elected Mayor of Hawaii County.
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