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Candidates outline priorities at Waimea-North Hawaii candidate forum

More than 90 people attended the candidate forum at Waimea Middle School cafeteria on July 17. Mediated by Sherry Bracken, candidates were allowed three minute introductions and then asked what their top priorities would be if they were elected. Following is a summary from each of the candidates, in order of panel seating:

Lorraine Inouye (D)

State Senate District 4

I would like to achieve sustainability and healthcare for all … and to help our farmers and the agriculture industry as we pursue our goal of achieving self sufficiency. Finally, everyone in Hawaii should have access to quality healthcare, especially our kupuna. I will seek more funding for our hospitals, particularly those who are in rural communities, such as ours.

Top priorities: What I’d like to see is that Scott Enright (Department of Agriculture) get back his money that was cut off. Tax situation in Hawaii: bring back the issues of GET taxes vs. the sales tax. I’d like to bring back constitutional convention.

Malama Solomon (D)

State Senate District 4

Many see our district as a dynamic, economic game changer for our state. We are in front by increasing our local livestock, vegetable food production, green energy, reinventing our tourism energies, we continue to contribute to world sciences, our endangered species, and our commitment to science and the study of astronomy, and now to address the difficulties of climate change. For over the past four years that I have represented you, we were able to bring home $500 million to help us in our communities to improve our quality of life.

Top priorities: 1. Fast track the campus for West Hawaii, to look beyond just a community college and go for a four year and graduate offerings. 2. Affordable inter-island transportation and also Kona as the second international destination airport. 3. Public and private partnerships to get jobs in the private sector. 4. To work on tax reform and to do away with income tax, and this way you can keep $5,000 in your pocket as opposed to giving it to the state of Hawaii.

Larry Gering (NP)

Hawaii County Council, District 1

The council needs a member who has agriculture experience, ag education, business experience and business education. I have all four elements. I have owned several small businesses and have a business administration degree.

Six members of the current council disrespected the hard work of hundreds of small farmers when they passed the anti GMO bill, threw them under the bus using the “hogwash precautionary principle” as the basis, when there is zero proof that GMOs are harmful. This needs to be changed.

Top priority: Every community has a community building in need of repair, I want to get those repaired. Fix the trails that have been closed for years. Create a reservoir for water distribution. Create electrical co-ops for more economical electricity. Create turnouts. Create farm co-ops to utilize machinery that farmers have. One of the people I talked to said, “Put some Porta Potties on the highway so my friends don’t come to my house and use my bathroom.” Hmm, we can do that too.

Val Poindexter (NP)

Hawaii County Council, District 1

I’m fortunate to have grown up in a multicultural society, and that gave me the tools I need to address all the diverse concerns of our island population. I hope to continue to serve you and make you proud. I give praise to kupuna for growing up in small tight communities — — we can learn from the past and make our futures more sustainable.

Top priority: The top is health and safety. Under that, health, what is our county’s responsibility to partner up with our state to look at the health care of our people — ur parks and rec programs, our kids and their playgrounds. So the infrastructure, community gathering places where we can build healthy communities, community gardens, agriculture — all this ties into health.

Safety. Our roads and bridges, all the main things that make our community safe.

Ronald Gonzales (NP)

Hawaii County Council District 9

I am and will continue to run a clean campaign. I’m going to stay on the high road.

Top priorities: Self sustainability, I believe we can get behind our farmers and ranchers. They have to be able to compete with all the products that are on our store shelves. Renewable and alternative energy — that comes into play. Another priority is responsible growth. To deny growth is not smart and we have to embrace it and realize that we will grow. We need to tackle our waste problem, a big issue.

Oliver “Sonny” Shimaoka (NP)

Hawaii County Council District 9

This is going to be my theme — common sense leadership. Five districts: Waikoloa, I’d work on the escape road. Or stop lights, or the roundabout at the intersection. In North Kohala: The bandstand, a nostalgic thing that I’d like to see restored. Puako: the escape route in case of fire. And the landfill issue. Kawaihae: of course, development.

Top priority: 1) The ag initiative, Waimea Ag complex, ag park and the “Vet to Farm” program. 2) Clean energy — firm believer in someone to compete against HELCO We have all the components for clean energy — solar, wind, geothermal — and I will work to see this becomes a realization.

Margaret Wille

Hawaii County Council District 9

I was on the South Kohala community development plan, the steering committee. I’m on the real property tax forum and working on how can we reduce all our taxes. In my office I’ve focused on grants and getting information out successfully on grants to our community.

Top priority: To work on ag, infrastructure, including facilities and parks and water. Ag, we are the breadbasket, we have many opportunities in the district. Infrastructure, working on a resolution to get Kawaihae bypass, and in terms of water, many faceted issues and beginning to address that starting in North Kohala.

Cindy Evans

Hawaii State House of Representatives District 7

Running unopposed

One of my primary duties is to be over in Honolulu to convince the employees, executive branch and my colleagues of what this district is all about. We have many challenges here and have wanted our roads to be safer and to have better transportation. They removed the Kawaihae bypass road from the list because they wanted to focus on finishing Saddle Road. That sounds good in concept, but that really shortchanges the fact that Kawaihae Road bypass is really important for this community. Kawaihae Road is not very safe, and the Kawaihae-Queen K intersection is a dangerous intersection, but those who make decisions don’t have to drive it, so we have to work collectively, so they can pass resolutions to support what we do at the state level.

(Cindy Evans was excluded from being asked what her top priorities were, as she is running unopposed.)