comscore 2022 Election: Colehour Bondera | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Colehour Bondera

  • Colehour Bondera
Name on ballot:

Colehour Bondera

Running for:

Hawaii county council – District 6

Political party:

No answer submitted

Campaign website:

www.colehourbondera.com

Current occupation:

Farmer

Age:

55

Previous job history:

• 2001-present — Farmer on small-scale diversified farm, Honaunau, HI
• 2020 — Office Manager for Representative Richard Creagan, Honolulu, HI
• 1998/99 — Project Manager with Rodale Institute, Kutztown, PA
• 1990-present — international and organic agriculture short-term consultant positions

Previous elected office, if any:

NA

Please describe your qualifications to represent the voters of your county.

After two decades of living and farming in District 6, while raising two children and serving on multiple local non-profit organizations’ boards, I’m ready to take my community service to another level. Our small-scale farm in Honaunau means that we are talking to other farmers and businesses all of the time.

From my past, I know, I listen to, and I understand our diverse community members. My goal is to listen to my constituents, and to prioritize their needs in discussions and decisions on the County Council. Truth be told, I am a “regular” guy — our farm (myself and/or my wife, Melanie) has sold at the Keauhou Farmer ‘s Market since it began. Through that experience alone (weekly for over 15 years), many District-level topics have happened and/or been brought up; it is a great way to interact with such a range of people, and work regularly with their needs and interests.

What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent, and what will you do to address that need?

At this moment, access to housing is the most significant problem for our District. Low-income residents, workers, and families are unable to find housing, due to the use of housing for visitor Airbnb. The rental market is as tight, expensive, and as difficult to break into as San Francisco. Homelessness is increasing as is crowding in with family and friends. The County can pass a Vacancy Tax, adjust the rules on short term rentals to favor more long-term rentals, protect tenants’ rights during home sales, charge more for permitting and use income to build low-cost housing, increase permitting staff, change zoning laws to support farmworker housing, tiny homes, and mixed uses. Property taxes on the wealthy to benefit our low-income families is fair on an island of limited resources and choices.

Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope and why?

While I support the pursuits of science and development on our island, it must not come at the expense of Native Hawaiian cultural concerns, nor environmental needs.

Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the county level to help residents cope with high consumer prices?

There are many ideas of actions to be considered and pursued. Use of Build Back Better funding (and/or other similar funding) to create broadband access island-wide to help with working at home. Increase bus fleet significantly to help with transportation. Consider a gas or mileage subsidy. Encourage a buy-local campaign, so limited funds get spent in our community, with the local multiplier effect. Keep tax profit dollars the County at a higher rate, instead of exempting it through the GE tax. Video charge moving violations through car owners, such as rental car companies. Seek to hasten the minimum wage increase to $18/hr. (and/or be associated with inflation).

What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness and to make housing more affordable to residents?

Homelessness is because, in part, of a lack of housing availability. Construction must require a set ratio of construction be for low-income housing. Work at the County and State level will coordinate with our national legislators and seek low-income housing development funding to assist. Will work directly with the County Planning staff to increase capacity and processing of applications.

The County will charge a Displacement Tax of the hotels and Airbnb owners to fund temporary housing for residents who fall out of the limited housing market. This will be used to get roofs over resident’s heads.

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

The County should publicly message a strong, layered approach to reducing covid infections. • Encourage indoor masking, request more testing availability from the state, funded by federal dollars,
• broadcast case numbers,
• reduce gathering sizes,
• educate visitors on our public health expectations,
• make staying home while sick the norm, and
• use any federal funding available.
The County must continue to ensure that health rules are followed at all County spaces. This includes limiting gathering size and enforcement of associated rules.

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

County government should open a n office and have a website as a one-stop shop for island residents impacted by the pandemic. They should have all the existing resources at their fingertips, and assist struggling residents to access them. The County should access as much federal dollars as they can to assist local families (for basics, including: food assistance, health services, financial help, legal assistance plus other support services). Using Build Back Better funds (or other similar funding) to create non-tourist focused jobs is critical.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?

County Council members should hold monthly ‘listening sessions’ with residents concurrently in-person and virtually. County Council upcoming agendas and decisions should be summarized in infographics, and put out on social media. Text messaging the office of your council member would also increase accessibility.

Do you think more needs to be done at the county level to manage tourism? If so, what would you propose?  

Yes, more needs to be done by the County to better manage tourism. Primary actions should be related to better public transportation so that each tourist does not have to rent a car upon arrival.

What would you propose to help diversify the island’s economy beyond tourism?

The Big Island has historically been the food basket of Hawaii, and can remain so by working together to seek to feed ourselves and the state. This will require improved sharing of crop production knowledge as well as significant support for processing and distribution. Food hubs should be supported or established within each County District, with universal access (pick-up and EBT/Double Bux). A focus on food production, distribution, and consumption would retain the jobs here in Hawaii and reduce our reliance on tourism, while at the same time ensuring that tourists experience Hawaii through it’s delicious and diverse food traditions. Tariffs on imported food with funding going to local farm production increases should go hand in hand with education of local consumers on how to eat local.

What can county government do to mitigate the affects of sea-level rise?

County efforts must focus on good land-use planning and effective community participation in local decision-making that will affect local conditions. Build upon the work already done (see, “Guidance for Addressing Sea Level Rise in Community Planning in Hawaiʻi”).

The County should start a planning commission to manage the effects. With a clear map and timeline of the inevitable, the commission can work with home-owners, businesses, and fishermen to make viable plans for relocation, raising buildings, and enforced sea-walls. Just as our island has a law offering replacement land to those impacted by lava, we can pass one for those covered by the sea.

At the same time, the County Climate Action Plan can and should be continued and maintained.

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

I was raised on a farm with ten siblings, and am not afraid of hard work. My life has been dedicated to community service and creative problem solving, which I will apply to County issues. I will network public-private partnership and work with all levels of government to solve our local problems. My desire is to establish communication networks, which mean that community input happens regularly. My academic studies have focused on community development, agricultural adult education and inter-national agricultural efforts. All of these apply to the role which I seek to fill. Finally, I rarely take ‘no’ for an answer, and complete actions once initiated. Together we can make District 6 a better place for us all.


View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
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