Politics — A Review Of The Council District 4 Race: Lower Puna

By Alan McNarie

The Lower Puna race is a four-way contest between incumbent Greggor Ilagan, Pahoa chiropractor Roy Lozano, former councilwoman Emily Naeole and businesswoman Madie Greene.  Ilagan, Naeole, and Lozano did not return questionnaires, but they’re already well-known in their community.  If they submit their questionnaires before the election, BIC will post them online.

Highlights from Madie Greene’s five-page response:

Among the hot-button issues for Lower Puna, believes Greene, are “ transportation, roadways, the lack of an emergency evacuation plan, drugs, homelessness, squatters, lack of recreational summer and after school activities for our keiki’s and the need for jobs.

The State and the County need to collaborate together with the Puna community in regards to better and safer roadways. If the lava flow continues the way it is it will eventually reach Hwy. 130 and we will have a huge problem here in Pahoa/Puna. We need an alternate route for emergency evacuation such as Railroad Ave. or a Mauka evacuation plan which I think is already being addressed.

New developments in Pahoa, she notes”will add jobs but will also add traffic congestion.  One solution is to add more (modern) bus service that will to run every half hour. She thinks bus fares should be lowered to one dollar.

“I am concerned with the traffic congestion Pahoa will experience with the proposed roundabout planned near Longs Drugs at one of the most dangerous intersections in the State,” she wrote.

She has served as chair for Pahoa’s Weed and Seed anti-drug program, and has seen the effects of drugs and alcohol first hand on the streets of Pahoa. “There is a safety and health issue here for our Puna residents who shop and dine here,” she says. “ She notes that many of Pahoa’s homeless “are not from Hawaii and do not have any family here to help them. Some of them just want to go home to the mainland but cannot afford the ticket back or have no valid ID.”

She endorses “safe geothermal energy,” but wants it away from parks, coastal waters and residences. She thinks “the community needs a special sounding system for serious geothermal emergencies. She thinks the island’s farmland should be used to grow food first, then biofuel crops for local consumption. She opposes biofuels for export and an undersea power cable to O`ahu. She thinks solar energy should be made “more affordable to everyone maybe even mandatory in the future “

“I think the County should help encourage our community to adopt and develop more community gardens on a big scale,” she says. She acknowledges the role that genetic modification has played in saving the papaya industry, but expresses concerns about them also—especially Monsanto’s propensity for suing farmers who accidentally grow crops cross-pollinated with GM seed. She supports county regulation of pesticides.

To alleviate long commutes, she thinks the county should encourage more affordable housing in Waikoloa and Kona and “better hotels” in East Hawaii.

She supports “the use of medical marijuana under strict regulations and also UH Industrial Hemp research for ultimate cultivation.”

Dr. Roy Lozano did not return our questionnaire. The following information is gleaned from his Web site:

“We need to foster development that is sustainable, honors our responsibilities to the land, creates opportunities for future generations, while always maintaining the quality of life we enjoy in Puna. It is essential that Home Rule is secured for our community,” Lozano writes on his campaign website. Among his concerns are the lack of infrastructure and basic services in Puna, including “ fire trucks, ambulances, police officers, hospitals, doctors and dentists that Hilo has. Our roads are not adequate to handle high traffic volume at peak times or accessibility to adjoining communities or emergency exit routes. Nor do we have sufficient parks, youth centers, elder housing, or the social services that make a community thrive.”

Lozano, who lives off-grid,  wants to examine “new technologies” for energy, such as fuel cells to create “safe, sustainable energy.” “By implementing strict conservation plans such as solar water heaters in every home and by replacing incandescent lights with LED lights with government tax incentives, we can lower energy needs in Hawaii as much as 50 percent,” he believes. “… The idea that our electric companies are now once again considering raising rates and limiting grid tie-in of home and business solar users is not supporting our goal of sustainability in Puna.”

He’s not impressed with geothermal’s safety record: “As someone who lives a little over a mile from the geothermal plant, I have firsthand knowledge of the stresses people experience from the noise and light pollution that come from this industry as well as potential accidents. I believe that we need to have proper monitoring of the geo-thermal plant and ocean waters and insure that a regulatory agency is in place to insure the safety of the people in Puna. We need to reevaluate geothermal activity in residential neighborhoods and be pono with the aina and the ohana.”

On food: “Regenerative agriculture is a model that can be completely sustainable with no need for imported chemical fertilizers or GMO crops. Creating seed banks, as some in Puna are already doing, is necessary to maintain a healthy agriculture community. These naturally gown wholesome products command the best prices because of their high quality. Our islands’ health food stores, farmers markets, and mainstream markets want to meet the demand of their customers to have GMO-free and organic food products. Furthermore, let’s create good-paying agricultural employment opportunities.”

“It is essential that we implement a feasibility study to determine the possibility of creating a zero-waste treatment plant,” he believes. “Incinerating solid waste for energy has the potential for toxic leaks that can lead to severe health risks.”

His site doesn’t specifically mention marijuana legalization, but he advocates for industrial hemp production here. He wants to find “alternative solutions for vagrants currently living on the streets of Pahoa. We do not need to have our children, adults or visitors experience drunkenness on the streets of Pahoa.”

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