Editor’s note: In Hawaii’s August 8th primaries, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer a few questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be in their election.
The following came from Harry Kim, candidate for Mayor of Hawaii County. Other candidates are Neil Azevedo, Paul Bryant, Bob Fitzgerald, Michael Glendon, Robert Greenwell, Stacy Higa, Wendell Ka’ehu’ae’a, Yumi Kawano, Ikaika Marzo, Mitch Roth, Mike Ruggles, Ted Shaneyfelt, Aunt Urban and Lahi Verschuur .
Go to Civil Beat Election guide For general information and check out other candidates on the primary ballot.
1. Hawaii’s economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak and measures to prevent it from spreading, largely due to the collapse of the tourism industry. Should we continue to rely largely on the visitor industry for economic vitality? What concrete steps would you take to bring tourism back? What else would you do to diversify the island’s economy?
The island of Hawaii is currently in the most favorable position to diversify the island’s economy. This is mainly due to the natural resources and opportunities that arise from them. I don’t think the Island of Hawaii should rely largely on the visitor industry for its economic vitality, but it would be an important part.
Large parts of the island economy should make full use of the agricultural possibilities. To support this phase of economic growth, the government must provide marketing support – transportation and higher value products. The island offers opportunities for science, culture, and a place of cultural tourism that can complement, rather than dominate, Hawaii’s lifestyle. Bringing tourism back is to promote and demonstrate a comprehensive and coordinated system of minimizing virus risk to Hawaii. This needs to be done to ensure the safety of guests, workers and the community.
2. As the economy struggles, the county may need to cut spending and find new sources of income. What would you cut And in which area do you see potential new income?
This government, along with Hawaii County Council, pushed for and succeeded in acquiring GE tax as an alternative income to property tax. New sales would be the expansion and development of a Hawaii attraction as a place of science, culture, sports and lifestyle. Projects to be expanded and used include the state’s NELHA (Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii) and the expansion of UHH into areas of agriculture. A natural place for this university extension would be the Island of Hawaii.
3. What would you have done differently to cope with the coronavirus crisis on the Big Island?
There appears to be a misunderstanding from the Hawaii county government in response to the coronavirus pandemic issue. The following are the dates of the most important measures of the County of Hawaii, as they are important in answering this question:
January 31, 2020: Hawaii County Civil Protection is activated seven days a week (set missions, priorities, prevention, education).
February 4: The public information program is set up seven days a week
February 22nd: The district’s task forces are set up to achieve the mission’s objectives
Do what differently? A closer inclusion of the incoming visitor monitoring guidelines. Also a closer involvement in contact tracing at the beginning.
4. State and county residents, government officials, and developers were divided over efforts to build the 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea. Do you support the construction of the TMT? Do you support the protesters? What would you have done differently in the past year to solve the problem?
This is such an important question that addresses the misinformation that affects the authority of the problem alone. The Hawaii County government has no authority over the administration of the mountain or TMT issues. My engagement was mainly to develop a vision of “A Way Forward – Maunakea”. This was in response to Governor David Ige’s request. There is a link to the county website that fully expresses my thoughts on Maunakea. What would I have done differently? End the “Heart of Aloha Faster” and press harder for his support.
5. Homelessness remains a problem nationwide, including the island of Hawaii. What would you do to deal with this lingering problem?
The County of Hawaii completed its application for funding from the state’s Ohana Zone and was the first to raise the funds needed to pursue the homeless program plan. The Hilo project is well underway and the counterprogram will begin construction in three to five months. Interim storage is scheduled to begin in Kona in two to three weeks. A long delay was due to property acquisitions. I am very proud of the status of the program. I just wish things could have been done faster, as always. What to do? Keep working on this growing problem.
6. The recent police deaths of citizens are sparking protests across the country and calling for reforms primarily aimed at preventing discrimination against people of color. Do you see this problem as a problem in Hawaii County? What should be done to improve policing and police accountability in the Big Island? Should police oversight be strengthened or reformed?
I believe the entire community trusts our police department. I don’t think discrimination against colored people is a problem. This is Hawaii – a place of cosmopolitan culture. The police and the county of Hawaii need to keep working to build trusting relationships with the community. It must also be a question of accountability and oversight.
7. Hawaii’s Public Records Act requires that public records be made available whenever possible. Governor David Ige suspended open government laws during the pandemic as part of an emergency order. Do you agree or disagree with his action? What would you do to ensure that the public had timely access to open meetings and public records?
It is agreed that an emergency statement must be prepared in order to respond to this crisis. The County of Hawaii made a similar statement to expedite response rather than to expose overt government law. The government’s open access to open meetings and public records is not a problem for me. There is nothing to hide.
8. What more should Hawaii County do to prepare for the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and threats to reefs?
This is such a difficult topic because of the currently unknown problem. As you prepare, you need to be aware of the best information available and, if possible, reduce the risk. These are public information, hazard and risk assessments, and mitigation measures that can be addressed. Above all, what can be done to mitigate the progress of global climate change?
9. The coronavirus pandemic has uncovered numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparities. If you could use this moment to reinvent Hawaii, build on what you learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you be doing? Please share a great idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative but be specific.
Man-made natural disasters are always a potential threat to the state of Hawaii. The shutdown of fuel, medical aid and food from the lifeline is a constant threat and problem. I’ll come up with a plan and work harder for self-sufficiency. This is especially true for food and electricity, a matter of course for the state of Hawaii.
10. What do you think is the most pressing problem on the Big Island? What are you going to do about it?
The Big Island’s most pressing problem is affordability of living in Hawaii. I will work to keep Hawaii’s development going for those who call this place their home, rather than Hawaii’s development as a place to make money at the expense of the Hawaiian people.
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