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 Monique Perreira, 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, Jaerick Medeiros-Garcia, Jaclyn Moore, Bethany Morrison and Dominic Yagong.
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?
Yes we have to, we already have that infrastructure with hotels, rental cars, tours and attractions and the labor force ready to go. Reps. Ward and McDermott have submitted a bill that requires visitors to get a COVID test 72 hours prior to flying to Hawaii. That’s a good start. I think maintaining sanitary measures is good too.
We need to help and invest more in our agriculture industry, providing long-term lease and tax incentives to make it possible to farm in Hawaii. Also, expand our meat-processing capabilities, so more of our island grass-fed meats can be available through our islands.
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?
I would like to see our county services more streamlined and efficient, using updated technology to get things done.
We need to look into a future with hemp. Hemp can be used as biofuels, housing materials and clothing. It can replace plastic, textile materials, pharmacology use, it even traps carbon and can even get us a 4 percent carbon tax revenue.
We also need to start planting some Christmas trees! There’s an industry right there, after being scared to death with the threat of murder hornets.
3. What would you have done differently to handle the coronavirus crisis on the Big Island?
I think the residents of the Big Island did a great job of riding this out. I just wish the rules of what we could and couldn’t do, what was open and what was closed were clearer. It got really confusing especially as it differed from island to island.
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? NO! Do you support the protesters? What would you have done differently in the past year to resolve the issue?
Yes, I support the peaceful protestors.
Mauna Kea has been mismanaged for over 50 years. No property manager would still have their jobs if they managed property the way Mauna Kea has been managed. You can’t rent a house and when you move out leave all your mess behind! Till today the plan of decommissioning telescopes is still an empty promise. We need to do better.
5. Homelessness remains a problem statewide, including on Hawaii island. What would you do to come to grips with this persistent problem?
Hawaii island is definitely “land rich.” We need to build more affordable homes, more self-help projects, expedite the permitting process for builders. I would also urge DHHL to put families in vacant, foreclosed homes.
Also we need to strengthen landlord-tenant laws and provide more protections to the homeowner. It’s hard to be a landlord in Hawaii, therefore the inventory is so low.
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?
I support our police, I don’t believe we have these issues here.
I think our police are really stretched thin, we need more police especially in the rural areas and more training.
I do not think oversight of the police department needs to be strengthened or reformed?
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?
No I don’t agree with the governor’s decision. In a time of crisis we especially look to our leaders. That is not a time to hide behind closed doors and make policy.
We need to utilize technology, live videos.
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?
Encourage zero waste behaviors, utilize more renewable energy, expand conservation and preservation of natural areas.
Education, education, education. It is not enough that we recycle, we need to stop the use of single use plastic. We can’t keep coming up with plan after plan without execution.
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.
Our state seems to be more reactive instead of proactive. We knew these systems like the unemployment department were seriously outdated. What other systems do we need to address before it crashes down when we most need it? We also need to diversify our economy and not put all our eggs in one (tourism) basket.
Again, the hemp industry is where we need to go. Hemp is so sustainable, one acre of hemp is equivalent to 20 acres of trees. As a biofuel, hemp has a 100% higher yield than corn. Hemp as building material is mold- and mildew-proof and doesn’t have all the toxins traditional materials have. Hemp really checks all the boxes for Hawaii.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district?
Affordable housing is pressing to the family looking for a place to rent. Creating more jobs is pleasing to the community members that lost their job. Access to the shoreline is pressing to the fishermen that want to fish where they did growing up. Opening up the economy is pressing to the small business owner that is facing closing its doors. Bus stop shelters are important to those that catch the bus in the wind, rain or hot sun.
Drugs and property crime, homelessness, missing children, all of these issues are pressing.