Name on ballot:
Herbert “Tim” Richards
Hawaii county council – District 9
Current elected Council Member for Hawaii County District 9, Veterinarian & Rancher
Previous job history:
Small Business Owner, Veterinarian & Rancher
Previous elected office, if any:
Hawaii County Council District 9
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I am a 6th generation “kama’aina” of Hawaii born and raised in North Kohala and the two-term sitting County Councilman for District 9. I grew up working in agriculture on the family-operated Kahua Ranch. Over time, I developed a deep appreciation and understanding of the land and water resources and the people who steward them. I went to the mainland to attend college and, in 1984, returned home with my doctorate of veterinary medicine to help fill the need for agriculture in livestock medicine. For the last 35+ years, I have practiced, held leadership roles in local and national associations, and been a small business owner/manager having to meet payroll, stay in budget, and successfully navigated the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2011.
What will be your top priority if elected?
My top two Initiatives are Agriculture and Affordable Housing. Both play their part in contributing to our counties greatest need, a thriving Economy. A strong economy will afford us the resources that we can then take care of our people; jobs, opportunity, healthcare, and housing. The COVID-19 episode has highlighted the need for having increased food security and a more resilient economy. In recent times, 40% of our county economy was tourism. We now have a rare opportunity to re-define our economy and re-design tourism for our county. I have long firmly believed agriculture can be a keystone in our economy. Recognizing that all of these facets and needs are interrelated is critical. More information is available at VoteTimrichards.com.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
We need to start re-opening our economy “smartly” and with planned, deliberate steps. COVID-19 is here for the long term; we need to move from emergency band-aids to longer-term plans.
Open Big Island to visitors with negative tests (shortly before arrival and possibly again after arrival) to avoid quarantine.
Create geo-fenced bubbles at and near resorts to provide a unique way to get things moving while being cautious.
Maintain social distancing, mask-up, and all safety guidelines by the CDC, and State for everyone.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
Any society has three needs to function; food, shelter, and security. As the COVID-19 episode has severely impacted our economy, the loss of jobs has been severe. With the employment loss, the damage goes to the family’s safety related to food and shelter. The near short term solution starts with addressing these. Our county with public/private partnerships has already long started on the road of helping feed the food insecure. County programs that aid in delivering food and stand-alone individual programs are in place and working. One such private/public program is one I established this spring; BRIDGES, which supports the local agricultural economy and, in turn, feeds people. As to housing, our county established a mediation fund to help families in rent and mortgage trouble negotiate a solution. The long term solution is retooling our economy. I have long believed that Agriculture can and should be a foundation of our economy, especially Hawaii County. We have excellent land & water resources. We have a potential workforce. We also have a possible renewable energy portfolio that we can tap. The opportunity to redefine our economy is before us. We can become the breadbasket of our state powered by renewable energy that increases our economy, job opportunities, and improves our food and energy self-reliance and security. (For more information, please go to my website: votetimrichards.com)
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 firmly support TMT going forward. I also believe there is a way forward for all. For any decision, I try to look at it from the environmental, cultural, and economic perspectives. From a cultural perspective, I can think of no better way to honor the ancient navigators then to study the stars. Astronomy and the quest for the knowledge that that brings cannot be overstated. Our navigators knew this, and that is why they are held with such revere. The telescopes are environmentally friendly and clean, with a limited impact on the environment. Some allegations of dangerous environment ramifications have been alleged but are not real. Economically the benefits are unquestionable. Currently, TMT is donating $1 million a year towards education. The revised projections for the economic impact on our county are approximately $2 billion. With our economy currently in shambles, this would help to rekindle the economic generation that we need by supplying the resources to start developing jobs, affordable housing, and an opportunity and future for the next generation. The TMT project has been vetted and found lawful to proceed as it should. TMT moving forward does not take away from the valid concerns about portions of Mauna Kea Management, which has been severely wanting in the past. Now it’s at the forefront and is being addressed. I firmly believe that all parties need to be at the table to go forward. Concerns must be heard, and Solutions sought by seeking middle ground.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
The civil unrest Awakened by George Floyd’s death highlights systematic problems in law enforcement structures across the nation. I do not see that as a Hawaii County PD systemwide culture. On the contrary, I believe our Police Department tries to be sensitive to the needs of our patchwork of communities and cultures. It is not perfect, but programs like the community police officer take steps in developing relationships with the district. Our biggest challenge is resources. Law enforcement is one aspect of the job, yet much of it deals with social issues. I do not believe we have enough training and support staff. Our county is vast, and we are spread thin. Our officers/1000 people are on par with national averages, but our island’s extensiveness is not reflected. As to oversight and accountability, measures are in place and strengthened. Body cameras for our officers will help, but we must have the resources to be able to afford them. Modernization, including more training, could be very helpful to advance our police officers, but this must be tempered with sufficient resources to support their current day-to-day needs.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
Through collaborative partnerships in our community, I bring people together – especially those who have no seat at the table. As an island in the middle of the Pacific, we must come together to become more “self-reliant” and united as one Hawaii Island.
-Ignite the agriculture industry to power our local economy.
-Develop renewable energy options for Big Island.
-Update our infrastructure.
-Responsibly manage and steward our land.
-Take care of our homeless neighbors.
-Spark economic growth.
Together, we can build a healthier and more sustainable Hawaii Island.
It’s not me… It’s We.
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