By Alan McNarie
Incumbent Democrat Richard Creagan, M.D., a mid-term appointment by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, faces a primary challenge from Gene “Bucky” Leslie and general election opposition from Republican Dave Bateman, Libertarian John LaLanne and nonpartisan Randy Ruis. Leslie did not return our questionnaire; Bateman’s and Ruiz’s responses can be seen online. BIC has yet to make contact with LaLanne.
Jobs: “Encourage small businesses such as bed and breakfasts, farm stays, and vacation rentals in agricultural/rural districts. Increase the minimum wage. Sustain unions…
To create and maintain quality jobs for my constituents without sacrificing a high quality of life or degrading the environment is my highest priority. For instance, I helped obtain over $60 million for various construction projects in Kona and Ka’u and we raised the minimum wage in Hawaii by almost 40% over the next four years….
Healthcare: “Support the primary care residency and support the community health centers. Help with the transition to the Affordable Care Act – I am on the Health Committee and will have an important voice there. Do something about the hospitals – a new hospital needed in Kona – is public-private partnership the right solution? It isn’t clear to me that it is.”
Agriculture: “Increase local food production in a responsible way. Make more land and water available to the small/homestead farmer. Avoid herbicide dependent GMOs.” He supports labeling of GM foods and regulation of pesticides and GMO crops at both the state and county levels.
“The family farm is the heart of the Big Island agricultural system,” he says. “That heart has been neglected. I support the emerging role of the Farmers Union United as a strong voice for the small farms and family farms of Hawaii. The Farmers Union supports the small farmer in competing for land and water with the GMO seed companies who contribute very little to the food needs of Hawaii, while causing potentially great harm…”
Housing: Minimize barriers to housing on rural/agricultural land. Simplify building codes for residential construction and adapt those codes to a semi-tropical environment.
Energy: “Support renewable energy as much as possible. Figure out how to do geothermal in a safe and acceptable way. Expand geothermal carefully if at all. Figure out how to modify the structure of Helco/the grid to accept more solar power and wind power and develop storage means such as pumped-hydro and hydrogen production. This might mean giving tax credits etc. for batteries as well as for grid-tied solar. We need to lower our energy use and costs. He does not support using Big Island farmland for biofuel production or the building of a power cable to O`ahu.
“Bucky” Leslie ran unsuccessfully against Nicole Lowen in District 6 in 2012. This year, he’s switched to District 5. He did not respond to our questionnaire, but we managed to glean some information from other sources. Leslie told Civil Beat that among his priorities would be “Agriculture and alternative energy opportunity….[ I]would introduce and champion legislation to enhance the agriculture industry and assure that alternative energy initiatives are of benefit to our community.” According to the same source, he favors “planned growth with a balance between development and environmental sustainability…. No doubt, jobs are essential and I would look for the opportunities that development would bring assuring that, in fact, those jobs would be filled by Hawai‘i residents, most especially the leadership positions.” His own campaign Web site, buckyleslie.com contained only a brief appealing for support, saying that he was the owner of a Kona coast business called “Flowers For Mama, and saying, “I hope to bring an honest viewpoint to our representation.”