Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 4 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Richard Creagan, Democratic candidate  for state representative for District 5. Republican Dave Bateman and Libertarian Jon Lalanne, who did not respond to the questionnaire, are also running.

District 5 includes Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.

Name: Richard Creagan

Office: State representative, District 5

Party: Democrat

Profession: Physician, farmer, legislator

Education: Undergraduate: B.A. Biology, Yale, 1969; Plant Tissue Culture Certificate, UH Hilo, 2005; B.A. Psychology, UH Hilo, 2009. Graduate: Biomedical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1970-1972; Yale Graduate School, Biology, 1973-1974; M.D. degree (1978) from University of Connecticut School of Medicine; Residency Training Emergency Medicine, Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, CA, 1978-1980; UH Hilo, Deptartment of Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, 2011-201

Age: 69

Community organizations: President, Na’alehu Main Street, 2005; Ka’u Agricultural Water Cooperative, 2007; Democratic Party: various offices and positions, 2008-2014


Richard Creagan, House District 5 candidate, 2014

Richard Creagan

1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?

I was appointed by Gov. Abercrombie to replace state Rep. Denny Coffman in 2014.  I have completed one successful session in the State House and realize that I can make a difference for my constituents and for our state.

2. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers?

I think that the plan to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities needs further attention, and we need to commit to regular contributions from the state toward that funding.

3. Local officials and advocates have worked to address homelessness for years, yet the crisis is growing. What proposals do you have for this complicated issue?

The homeless population is not homogeneous and thus any solution needs to analyze that population and tailor any solution to the various needs and desires of the different components. Public and non-profit transitional housing is clearly part of the solution. Improving our economy, providing a living wage for workers, and job training will address one sector of the homeless.

There is a significant portion of the homeless population that is struggling with mental illness and/or addictions and part of the solution to this involves programs that address those particular struggles.

I am still learning about the many facets of this problem.

4. Where do you stand on labeling genetically engineered food and pesticide regulation? Are these public safety issues, or are the dangers exaggerated?

I think that Hawaii should lead, not follow on this issue and I thus support state legislation to require labeling, realizing that federally based labeling, although perhaps the most desirable solution, will be done only with great pressure from individual states.

On pesticide or herbicide regulation I respect the efforts of various counties to address the perceived problem of exposure of their populations to herbicides and pesticides. I think it should be recognized that “cide” means “to kill” and that the specificity of these substances and their safety toxicity is not well understood and has been misrepresented, i.e., the safety is not as clear as the manufacturers and users purport. Case in point: the herbicide atrazine.

I think there is no question that there are public safety issues. Reading the labels of these substances shows you that many of these substances are highly toxic, and some are mutagenic and carcinogenic. My position is that the purported “safety” of these substances is what has been exaggerated.

5. Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest in the country by many indicators. What can really be done to make things like housing, food and transportation less expensive?

Hawaii is not a homogeneous place. Thus the situation and the solutions should be addressed on an individual island basis. That said, energy costs are very high throughout the state and we need to intensify our efforts to support less expensive, non-carbon-fuel based energy sources such as solar and wind power. The role of geothermal is not as clear.

Encouraging local food production and family-based food production can make food less expensive and affordable.

Transportation modes and costs also differ by island. Public transportation needs to be expanded and hopefully be as sustainably based as possible. The expanded use of electric and fuel-cell, e.g. hydrogen-based, vehicles should be supported by the state.

Land costs on the Big Island are much lower than on Oahu and I think that some shift of the population growth to the Big Island is already occurring. Information technology will allow a lot of jobs to be done more remotely. The necessity to constrain housing and development to an “urban core” is something Oahu needs to address. I feel that on the Big Island the need for centrally based utilities is much less: housing in rural areas could utilize, and does often utilize, solar power, water catchment (an estimated 30 percent of housing on the Big Island uses catchment water), and individual wastewater systems (cesspools, septic systems, and composting toilets).

6 .Would you support using liquefied natural gas as part of the state’s energy sources? And how can we improve the electrical distribution system so more renewable energy can be utilized to bring costs down?

I think that the least expensive and most environmentally friendly carbon-based source should be used while we move toward alternative energy, and liquefied natural gas seems potentially preferable to coal and oil.

The re-engineering of our electrical distribution system to better utilize renewal energy will be costly and will require both carrot and stick approaches.

7. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Yet many citizens are unable to afford the costs that state and local government agencies impose. Would you support eliminating search and redaction charges and making records free to the public except for basic copying costs?

I think that public record access needs to be greatly improved. The cost of that access needs to be reduced. As always, the devil is in the details, but I oppose unreasonable barriers to that access, and if search and redaction charges can be reduced or eliminated I would support that.

8. Are you satisfied with the way Hawaii’s public school system is run? How can it be run better?

I don’t think that any public school system in the country is totally without fault. That is certainly true for Hawaii’s public school system. I don’t have all the answers but the solution will clearly involve more resources and the will of the people and the government to provide those resources, but also smarter use of those resources. I think that the charter schools will help us explore and develop that smarter, more effective use of our resources.

9. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests?

I think that this is an area where “the greatest good for the greatest number” should come strongly into play. Growth for growth’s sake should not be our goal. Given that we are an island state we have limited ability to grow and we should be particularly cautious about growth, and even more particularly cautious about our increasingly fragile environment.

While tourism is and should remain important, I think that particularly on the Big Island that farm and rural based tourism could be responsibly developed along with food production.

10 What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

As my website (creagan.org) demonstrates, I have had a number of successful careers that inform my perspectives. I have been a resident of the Big Island for 25 years and have been a farmer for most of that time. I was a board-certified emergency physician and practiced at Kona Community Hospital. I have a degree and further training in psychology.

I am supportive of a rural renaissance on the Big Island that incorporates alternative ways of living, building, growing and raising food, and providing health and happiness based living and tourism opportunities. Small businesses, often with a health based component, such as bed and breakfasts, farm-stays and farm based vacation rentals, overnight campgrounds, farm based farmer’s markets, small-scale agriculture that provides food for families and local markets would all be a part of that vision.