By Alan McNarie
Incumbent Nicole Lowen’s key issues include education, energy, construction and coffee borers.
“The state must continue to support the growth of our new college campus at Palamanui, the Kona Judiciary Complex, and the completion of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway project,” she says. “In addition to the need we have for the services these projects will provide to the community, they will also create needed jobs.
“The coffee berry borer beetle has been devastating to the Kona Coffee Industry, and in my first term I have passed 2 bills that have secured $1.3 Million in aid from the state, as well as establishing a new subsidy program in the Department of agriculture to help coffee farmers defray some of the costs of dealing with this pest. We must continue to help farmers fight this pest and save our Kona Coffee!
“Finally, I continue to be passionate about energy issues. We must end our dependence on imported fossil fuel, and we must ensure that our transition to renewable energy lowers costs for consumers. I have worked hard on these issues the past two year, and we have passed bills to ensure grid modernization and to make renewable energy systems more affordable for low- and middle- income families as well as renters. “
Kalei Akaka, the grand-daughter of the Sen. Daniel Akaka, did not return our questionnaire. We obtained the following quotes about her priorities from her campaign’s Web site:
Jobs and the Economy/ Responsible Development: “I believe we need to attract new businesses and ventures that incorporate purposeful and responsible economic growth and development aesthetically compatible with our environment that benefits the community as a whole….”
Education: Kalei makes a broad statement about supporting education, and specifically notes the need to improve school infrastructure: “Too often our schools are in disrepair and without air-conditioning in warm conditions that are not conducive to learning. Improving the physical conditions of schools by repairing infrastructure and at the same time stimulate [sic] our economy by providing jobs. She also supports “The completion and establishment of Hawai‘i Community College P?lamanui Campus so that our students will have the opportunity to have a quality university education program right here in Kona….”
Energy: “I believe we need to continue to seek methods of safe and renewable energy. Our islands’ isolation and unique environment gives us the opportunity to be a forerunner in solar, wind, wave, ocean thermal, hydrogen and biofuel sources of energy to alleviate our dependence on oil. I am in strong favor of continuing the work of Natural Energy Lab of Hawai’i Authority (NELHA)….”
Government Workers: “I am a strong advocate of taking care of our government employees’ wages and benefits. For too long, our state and county government employees have been forced to do more with less…”
Culture and the Arts: “I am a strong advocate of maintaining and preserving the unique traditions of Hawai`i.”