Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Jaerick Medeiros-Garcia, candidate for Hawaii County Council District 1 representing Puueo, Wainaku, Kaiwiki, Paukaa, Papaikou, Onomea, Pepeekeo, Honomu, Wailea, Hakalau, Ninole, Papaaloa, Laupahoehoe, Waipunalei, Ookala, Paauilo, Paauhau, Honokaa, Kukuihaele, Waipio, Ahualoa, portion of Kamuela, Pleasant Acres, Nani Waimea, Kamuela Highlands, Kamuela Lakeland, Kamuela Meadows and Kamuela Havens. The other candidates are Elroy Juan, Heather Kimball, Jaclyn Moore, Bethany Morrison, Dominic Yagong and Monique Perreira.
1. Hawaii’s economy has been hard hit with the outbreak of the coronavirus and measures to prevent its spread, mainly because of 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?
Hawaii must expand and diversify its economy to becoming sustainable and viable in the future. We should seek out viable and effective means of stopping the transport of fatal viruses and infectious diseases from entering into Hawaii, be it from the migrating local domestic, mainland, and/or foreign travelers from abroad and/or import of goods.
To diversify the island’s economy, we should seek out new and innovative technology and ideas that can improve Hawaii’s food supply, construction and medical industries and the promotion of sciences and technology adaption in making Hawaii a better place to live.
2. As the economy struggles, the county may have to cut expenses and seek new revenue sources. What would you cut? And what is an area where you see potential new revenue?
We need to reduce government operational costs to meet the revenue shortfall.
To generate new revenue, tax non-resident homeowners at a higher rate as a means to balance the tax inequality between the non-resident and resident taxpayer. Implement a tax (similar to President Trump’s tariffs) on foreign goods, so that locally grown and/or manufactured products can be more competitive and sustainable in Hawaii.
3. What would you have done differently to handle the coronavirus crisis on the Big Island?
Implement temperature screening at the airport arrival areas as soon as President Trump designated Hawaii as an inbound destination for foreign travelers.
4. State and county residents, government officials and developers have been split over efforts to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. Do you support construction of the TMT? Do you support the protesters? What would you have done differently in the past year to resolve the issue?
TMT has many scientific benefits which Hawaii must strongly consider.
Protesters have brought to light the need for change, and the status quo actions of our trusted government officials must change.
We need to instill public trust and bring about changes as to how government officials were managing and handling TMT.
5. Homelessness remains a problem statewide, including on Hawaii island. What would you do to come to grips on this persistent problem?
Gov. Ige has made headway on the issue and I would like to see the program expanded to the outer islands.
6. Recent deaths of citizens at the hands of police are igniting protests and calls for reform across the country, primarily aimed at preventing discrimination against people of color. Do you see this issue as a problem in Hawaii County? What should be done to improve policing and police accountability on the Big Island? Should oversight of the police department be strengthened or reformed?
The “Blue Code of Silence” can be detrimental to society and destroy public trust.
We should mandate the use of COP cameras in the County of Hawaii.
Hawaii County Police Commission members should take a more active role in providing better oversight of the police department behaviors.
7. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Gov. David Ige suspended the open government laws under an emergency order during the pandemic. Do you agree or disagree with his action? What would you do to ensure the public has access to open meetings and public records in a timely fashion?
Public information should be shared. But it should never become a nuisance that distract or hinders Gov. Ige from focusing on and addressing the critical matter at hand.
We should enhance public broadcasting entities and their capabilities, so there is an independent third-party source helping the public receive minutes or recordings of the meetings in a more timely and expeditious manner.
8. What more should Hawaii County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Improve and enhance the existing shoreline area to make the transition of rising tides less dramatic and stressful to the aquatic species. Also utilize ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) technology to cool the ocean water surface temperatures as a means to save the corals and habitat areas.
9. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
Learn from others who dealt with SARs/COVID-19 and implement their best lessons learned in Hawaii to make Hawaii a safe place for all.
Offer $250 per person per month to maintain a contact log with names and phone numbers of people they have contacted during the COVID 19 outbreak and upon being tested positive, the contact log would be surrendered and used to track the spread of the disease.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Our environment and natural resources need our help to heal and correct the wrongdoing in order to keep the air, water and land clean and healthy for our future generation to enjoy. We must help to restore Hawaii’s environment and natural resources, so the next generation may be able to enjoy and live out the ways of old Hawaii.