comscore 2020 Election: Ted (Toku San) Shaneyfelt | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2020 Election: Ted (Toku San) Shaneyfelt

Name on ballot:

Ted (Toku San) Shaneyfelt

Running for:

Hawaii island mayor

Political party:

Nonpartisan special

Campaign website:

Current occupation:




Previous job history:

Having a successful career in engineering, I gave up over $1 million in salary to move from Honolulu to teach Computer Science and Engineering at UH Hilo in 2000. Since then, that is mostly what I’ve been doing professionally. As an investor I am making more money trading stocks in half a year than teaching ever paid annually.

Previous elected office, if any:


Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

My engineering background will be helpful in optimizing how the county runs. Research has shown that engineers are good, lawyers bad for the economy. We have a difficult economic time ahead. My father taught money skills for tough economic times as he grew up during the Great Depression. But most importantly, to me the oath of office, to protect, defend, and preserve the Constitution is not just a formality. It is what ensures our country the God given rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that our country was founded upon.

What will be your top priority if elected?

Reduce wasteful and invasive government regulations that interfere with the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of our island’s citizens.

As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?

While the strongest COVID-19 measures were primarily handled at the state level by our governor, I have little criticism for our current mayor in his handling of the situation. To his credit, he was quick to sanitize. He handled it much better than the lava flow where many people were prohibited by authorities for weeks from evacuating any of their items or even livestock and other animals left to burn. In the expressed opinion of Dr. Shaneyfelt, this was depriving people of a fundamental constitutional right of security of houses and effects guaranteed by the fourth amendment. In the 1960 lava flow, evacuation was performed successfully without loss of life. If not for his authoritarian style, he would continue to be a good mayor, and, in fact I have voted consistently for him in past elections.

What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?

The government needs to reduce waste and lower taxes so citizens will have more money for spending. This is where my engineering background will be helpful in creating a more efficient government. The permitting process on our island is much too burdensome. As a leader in bureaucracy, our county is even asking people to get permits for window air conditioning units. Such obscure laws that are rarely followed are unfair to those who actually try to go by the rules, which indicates that the rules should be changed. While some have suggested involuntary furloughs, I would propose offering county employees the option of pursuing higher education with the option of returning to their position upon completing their degree program when the county should have more money available for salaries. That would be a better situation for everyone.

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?

This is a matter of due process and equal protection under the law rather than favor or disfavor of the project. All elected officials take an oath to protect that due process as part of the Constitution. That includes enforcing the decision of the courts in the matter. While the courts have decided that the project should be allowed to proceed, it should be done in the spirit of the Law of the Splintered Paddle. Those who wish to protest young or old, great or small may remain by the roadside and their voices should be heard, while at the same time those who wish to pass by along the road should also permitted to go forth along the road. That was the most famous decree of our King Kamehameha the Great and it should be honored.

Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.

I believe Hawaii’s unique history has spared us from many of the divisive issues in the mainland, and as such we should not bring that divisiveness here. But there are problems on our island where it takes hours for police to respond in some areas. We need to fix that.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

I am running a zero dollar spending campaign, being the only candidate who produced absolutely zero waste on campaign materials. I personally practice sustainability more than any other candidate growing over 100 kinds of fruits, nuts, spices, and other edible plants at home for my ohana. I drive an electric vehicle powered by solar energy from my rooftop.

Sustainable energy is important to me, but it must be done intelligently. While I support rooftop solar energy, I do not recommend grid-scale solar farms. The reason is that HELCO already limits residents with rooftop solar from selling to the grid. How then can we justify clearing good land that could be used for farming or preserved for future generations? Also, grid scale wind turbines are notorious for killing and endangering flying wildlife. After a short lifespan, they have huge non-recyclable parts. The non-recyclable windmill blades alone fill acres of landfill. How can we justify this when our landfills for waste are already filling up? Although it is an icon for renewable energy, like the obsolete flourescent bulb, it is a bad choice compared to LED lighting. So there must be a better alternative for the environment. Another misunderstood resource that requires deeper study to understand is geothermal, but while on the surface it appears to be problematic with stories of pentane being dangerous. Dr. Shaneyfelt recommends giving up fossil fuel powered cars before complaining about pentane used in geothermal operations because gas stations are full of the same chemical mixed with much worse chemicals that get burnt and release dangerous fumes into the air. The pentane used in geothermal plants on the other hand is not pumped into the ground as misunderstood, but rather is kept in a closed system of pipes to convert between temperature and energy, like a refrigerator running in reverse. This is the same principle used by the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion project to generate energy from the ocean. Geothermal does not strictly need to use pentane in its operations, but does so to help the environment by improving its efficiency. The energy collected through this process is an optimization on top of turning steam turbines. That means we need fewer wells for the same power, less land to be cleared, and it’s better for the environment than running without pentane. Having lived in Leilani Estates, I observed that complaints made by people near PGV are generally made by those who chose to settle near it. It never bothered his family while they were living there. His suggestion is that PGV should provide free electricity to its nearest neighbors so that living nearby might be considered a privilege rather than a burden. A few geothermal plants could provide all of our island’s electrical grid needs with minimal land use. Among alternatives, nuclear is generally not advised for Hawaii. Geothermal is better for our carbon-free needs than that. The reason is that a nuclear accident affecting DNA could affect not just the generation of the accident, but DNA damage could be passed down from generation to generation.

View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2020 Hawaii elections coverage.
Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up