Name on ballot:
Community Organizer. Business Owner in Tourism, Ranching, Fishing & Fine Arts.
Previous job history:
Volunteer Community Organizer & Founder of “The Hub” Puʻuhonua O Puna Eruption Relief Center. Business Owner in Tourism, Ranching, Fishing & Fine Arts.
Varsity Athletics Coach, Big Island Interscholastic Federation Coach of the Year 2010.
Previous elected office, if any:
No answer submitted
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
All I ever strive to do in my businesses, volunteer endeavors, and life is help my community by listening, learning, organizing, and acting on what is most important to the people and a bright future. As a business owner in cultural tourism, ranching, fishing and fine arts, I’ve worked to empower the community by creating jobs within my hometown. Empowering ordinary citizens with jobs, bringing Hawaiian music to Carnegie Hall in New York, inspiring our youth to success through athletic coaching youth, launching into the workforce in my teenage years to support my mother and sisters following my father’s sudden passing are all accomplishments which contributed to the person I am today, but my biggest leadership qualification stems from effectively responding to community cries to fill the gaps left by our government during the 2018 Kīlauea eruption.
I founded “The Hub,” Puʻu Honua O Puna Eruption Relief Center to provide essential resources and information to victims displaced by disaster, plus inspired thousands of volunteers and dollars in donations worldwide to contribute to this effort based on solid Aloha. For my volunteer community service to Hawaiʻi Island, I was honored by the State of Hawaiʻi House of Representatives, the Pacific Risk Management ʻOhana, T. George and Sunday Paris Foundation, and won 1st Place Best Community Leader in East Hawaiʻi. Now more than ever, we need a leader with experience pulling people together to get through. The pandemic represents the largest challenge Hawaiʻi has faced in generations; yet, there is an opportunity for us to unite and achieve great things to overcome it.
What will be your top priority if elected?
My top priority is the success of our island community, which can only be achieved by integrating sustainability–for individuals, the environment, and the economy–into ALL POLICY DECISIONS. My utmost priority is uniting the people with their government, giving the people a voice, and resetting Hawaiʻi’s sails to steer us in the right direction–a direction founded on trust and aloha. Currently, Hawaiʻi County still has at least 20,000 residents out of work, our state imports 85-90% of all food, and we wave goodbye to our keiki as they leave the islands to work because of the lack of jobs with the potential to grow and thrive.
Our local economy has to come first. We have a chance to reduce unemployment while also reshaping our island to be more sustainable if we properly manage the pandemic to keep our communities and businesses safe. My “COVID-19 Framework” with guidelines to safely reopen is on my website, to go along with my “Culture of Sustainability” platform that includes my long term economic vision of expanding sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, non-food agriculture & processing, health care and senior living, safe & sustainable tourism, responsible tech jobs and industry, and helping new startups.
Our government needs to be as transparent as possible. Our people have every right to know where our tax money goes. Since every decision the government makes affects the public, the public must be involved in and have clear viewing of all operations. Especially during a pandemic, where government decisions directly impact the health and lives of its people, we must be completely forthcoming with all information as it comes in and decisions as they are made. We must rebuild the trust between the people and their government with communication; building that trust is of utmost importance.
COVID-19 has created a new normal where many of our interactions are online, which is an opportunity for our county to set a new digital standard of quick online access to meetings and records. We need to continue to modernize our county and its use of technology, including exploring remote work capacities for county employees.
Finally, we need quick, better solutions for our recycling and solid waste. It’s not sustainable or safe to continue to truck all of our trash to Kona, especially with recyclables making up half of the volume going into the landfill. We can do much better to monetize our disposed resources so that we are not losing money, making better use of our many recycling specialists. Trash can be cleanly converted into energy, fuel, or building materials, which also reduces our imports, carbon footprint and makes us more sustainable.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
Our community needs accurate, timely, and complete information on COVID-19, just like we expect in any crisis. In recent disasters, such as the 2018 eruption, our county and state leaders were not on the same page, adding to the confusion. The economy and the health of our residents are inseparable. We are going to need strong and bold COVID-19 policies that allow the kamaʻaina economy to survive and thrive. We all want to get people back to work and kids back to school, but that is going to take bold science-based policies to handle our COVID-19 risk.
There are a few different things I would modify or implement to protect our community. Firstly, our county has not been clear and timely in its messaging on COVID-19 for those paying attention, often conflicting with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s daily update. We need to do our part to make information as clear and accessible as possible, including improving publicly available data on our active cases. We also need strict enforcement of the 14-day quarantine policy for those affected.
We also need to look towards ways to better track and understand the outbreak in real time on the island. There are two specific programs I would look into further with collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the University of Hawaiʻi. The first would look towards regular COVID-19 antigen testing of our municipal sewage networks as a leading indicator of a growing outbreak, potentially allowing us to get an early warning days to weeks ahead of our current testing protocols. This is a low cost method that could buy the county valuable time to mitigate a potential outbreak and inform the public of exactly what is happening in their communities. Secondly, I want a proper study that determines the prevalence of COVID-19 on our island by randomized antibody survey. The more we know about COVID-19 in our community, the better we will be able to refine our policies.
Finally, many of our hospitals, elderly care facilities, and pharmacies still have insufficient Personal Protective Equipment in the way of surge capacity, such as medical masks and protective gowns. The last few months have not added the capacity to mitigate a potential larger outbreak than we have seen thus far. To continue to protect the community as the pandemic progresses we are going to need to ensure our hospitals have the support they need.
My “Initial COVID-19 Framework” with guidelines to safely reopen our community and economy is on my website. It provides sources for the information and policy decisions that I believe should guide our county government. My plan encompasses strategies based on scientific evidence, while considering how we can use the unique geography of our island to mitigate the pandemic effectively. Like all science-based proposals should be, this is a living document, which will be updated as we learn more about this disease. The county government must refine and revise its reopening guidelines based on new information as it becomes available. The county must also consider new information including policies for restaurants, air circulation in offices, indoor vs outdoor activities, and mask requirements and materials.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
In the short term, we need to transition from our current economy by making the most of what we already have and of what’s still working. Our construction industry has been resilient, and we can promote more responsible construction and create more jobs for both men and women by first streamlining our building permit system. Fixing permitting would also put more homes on the market and make our housing more affordable. We also have shovel-ready capital improvement projects that would help our people and communities, and urgent improvements needed at our wastewater treatment plants. We need even more effort into affordable housing, by improving the availability of Section 8 homes and by advocating to DHHL to award lands owed to Native Hawaiians. And we need to make the most of federal grants and programs to stimulate revenue into our economy.
All of this is to recover from our over-reliance on tourism, but we still need our visitor industry to recover as much as possible, both in the transition and in the long term. Many of our people’s livelihoods were connected to tourism, with close to 50% of unemployment filings just in those sectors. We need a means to share our islands that is both safe and sustainable, that puts people back to work, and that features our Hawaiian culture.
Integrated with the economy and protection of our environment, sustainable living means to protect every residents’ ability to live with the safety of having housing, food, healthcare, and education. Housing safety supports residents’ ability to afford and have a home to live in, and that sufficient housing is available in the community with an acceptable ‘housing burden’ of 30% or less of income. Food safety supports residents’ ability to afford food for themselves and their family, and that there will be enough food by growing and producing locally. Health safety supports residents’ ability to afford and access health care, and that there are enough healthcare workers and facilities to support needs. Educational Safety supports adult and children residents’ ability to access education, and that there exist educational opportunities, and training on ancient traditions and sustainability.
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?
As Mauna Kea is of Hawai‘i Island, all our people have a relationship with that mountain, whether it’s cultural, scientific, or usually both. Although Hawaiʻi County has no legal jurisdiction on the mauna, local leadership should be part of decision-making to ensure our community’s many views are represented. To promote a path forward which includes both astronomy and Hawaiian culture, to shift into a respectful and fruitful future, Hawaiʻi State and County leaders must work together with the community under full transparency to rectify historical issues and address State management problems on Mauna Kea.
I am a Native Hawaiian who does believe that science can and should help our world. As I adamantly support government transparency, I do not support any construction on Mauna Kea. I am for the fact that the Thirty Meter Telescope has provided educational opportunities to Hawaiian keiki and our community. I think tech jobs would be great on our island at minimal impact to our unique environment. I support establishing more highly skilled jobs, educational opportunity, economic diversity and further opportunity for our keiki to return here after education abroad to work and contribute here to Hawaiʻi Island society–and I support doing this is a sustainable way for the long haul of this island.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
We cannot have the Hawaii Police Department on our Island reach the point of corruption that has been seen on Oʻahu. Our officers are part of our community, and our community should have a voice in how our community is policed. I would like to establish a civilian review board for HPD so the people of the island feel like they have a neutral party to go to if an incident occurs.
There are services that our police provide that could potentially be delegated to other branches of government or the nonprofit sector to reduce the variety of activities they are requested to respond to. Currently, we ask our police officers to also be social workers, psychologists, and addiction counselors. We have to value and support social workers, and leadership needs to advocate for state and federal funding to fund more programs surrounding solutions.
We do need more police transparency also, which could potentially include the required use of body cams. We must work with the community to help the police make positive changes, and figure out the best ways for law enforcement to work with our community in striving for a healthy and safer future.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Without state or federal resources, without fiscal compensation, without a salary rather as a full-time volunteer, I am the only candidate who has spearheaded and managed a successful disaster relief center and donation hub during the most destructive lava flow in the State of Hawaiʻi’s recorded history. We faced over 700 homes destroyed, 2500+ residents evacuated, millions of dollars of infrastructure wrecked with the true needs of the community to match the extensive breadth of disaster! I listened and united the community to feed, clothe, house, and help the people effectively. Our government must work with communities to fill those gaps together.
Born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, my roots extend from Kapaʻahu, Kalapana to Makuʻu, Puna to Kaʻu. I’m an energetic Entrepreneur turned Community Organizer here to do what I’ve always done: help strengthen my Hawaiʻi Island community.
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