What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?
I have been a community volunteer and Business member here in Pahoa (County Council District #4) for 18 years and have seen many changes and not enough change. I think some of the biggest issues here in Pahoa/Puna is 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.
I serve on the Pahoa Regional Town Center Steering Committee, Mainstreet Pahoa and recently the PCDP Implementation Action Team and am very aware of the issues for Puna. With the incoming development such as new Pahoa Center near Brysons cinder. This development 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. This way we can give our community members the option to ride the bus. I think we need to lower the fare to $1.00 just to entice riders.
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.
Drugs have always been a problem here in Pahoa and with the start of the Weed and Seed Program 10 years ago in Pahoa we did see a change but as with anything, it takes time and community awareness. At one time ‘ICE’ was a big problem in Pahoa/Puna and is still around but not like before. I think Marijuana is becoming the new drug of choice. I think ‘ICE’ affect people differently compared to Marijuana whereas ‘ICE’ makes a person do crazy brazen things and Marijuana is more of a mellow drug. I don’t do drugs and I am only saying what I have witnessed and read about and working with the Prosecutors Office and our Community Police Officers through the years as Chair for the Weed and Seed program.
Another problem is the drinking and homelessness here in Pahoa town. I have witnessed drunks sleeping in doorways and breaking into abandoned homes destroying property and leaving messes near businesses. There is a safety and health issue here for our Puna residents who shop and dine here. We need a roaming police officer on a consistent basis in old Pahoa town and a mental health care office nearby to help the homeless and the alcoholism problem. I have talked to the homeless in Pahoa and many of these people 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 has no valid ID.
What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and what would you do about them?
I think Hawaii needs to be more sustainable. We need to have more people growing their own food and we need to bring down the price of electricity. We have Geothermal but Pahoa does not directly benefit from having the Geothermal site in our backyard. Solar should be more affordable and the paperwork not so time consuming. I hope the Pacific Bio-Diesel helps our community become more fuel-efficient. Waste is another problem here on the Big Island and our Landfills need to be addressed. We need a waste to energy plant with proven results because the cost to build such a plant is expensive.
If not covered above, what are your views on:
1. Do you believe the island should increase its use of geothermal energy?
I am for safe Geothermal energy but not in next to our Parks or coastal waters. This island is so huge why not build a plant away from homes and businesses. Wherever this may be, I feel that the community should always be given the opportunity to share their views/mana’o.
2. If so, what can be done at the county level to address community concerns about geothermal safety?
I think the community needs a special sounding system for serious Geothermal emergencies. We have the civil service sirens for all emergencies and if there is a problem at PGV the community needs to know right away and this is an on-going concern at the moment. I would propose a different sounding siren such as a loud foghorn or something that distinguishes itself from our present siren alarm. If we have a different sounding siren that we can become familiar with that would help our Pahoa community evacuate faster in case of an emergency at PGV therefore hopefully avoiding chaos and traffic problems. We also need more meters/monitors in our communities that are close to the plant no matter what the cost. I have to add that Mike Kaleikini who is the PGV Plant Manager has always been a big community supporter and PGV is very active in helping sponsor community events such as the Pahoa Holiday Parade, the Pahoa Booster Club, Mainstreet Pahoa and recently the Pahoa Spirit Parade.
3. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for local power generation and/or transportation?
I think Big Island farmland should be used to farm and grow food first and help our community become food efficient. I do think we need to be more fuel-efficient but not at the cost of interfering with our island being food efficient. If we can do both that would be ideal.
4. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for off-island use?
I think this would be a bad idea as we would need to build infrastructure to carry this fuel to outer islands and I feel that an undersea cable has the potential for an environmental disaster for our Aina and ocean life be it long term or short term. I think every island should strive to become food and fuel-efficient.
5. Do you believe an undersea power cable should be built to transport Big Island-generated energy to O`ahu? Why or why not? (see above)
6. What can be done to allow the county and its population to use less energy?
I think Solar should be more affordable to everyone maybe even mandatory in the future and the permitting process should be smoother and not what it is presently. The County and Helco needs to work together in making the paperwork process less time consuming and the tax benefits should have no time limits.
1. What can the county do to encourage more local food production for local markets?
I think the County should help encourage our community to adopt and develop more community gardens on a big scale and help the Big Island become better food efficient and possibly become an example to outer islands. Let the community use lands that part of the fresh air fund and give tax benefits/incentives to community farmers who produce local food for consumption.
2. Do you support the regulation, at the county level, of genetically modified crops? Why or why not?
This topic is a double-edged sword as it deals with science and technology which was proven to help like with our papaya situation and on the other side of the coin there’s the downside of harmful pesticides with companies who are for profit with little regard to the Hawaii community and the long term effects on our aina. I don’t like Hawaii being used as a testing ground for GMO and the potential to contaminate our water supply and food crops could become a problem in the long term. I have never heard anything positive being said about Syngenta or Monsanto, only the opposite. They are multi million dollar companies with deep pockets and it seems they like to litigate when they do not get their way. I don’t like the thought of Monsanto suing one of our farmers because of GMO crops being cross-contaminated.
3. Do you support increased regulation, at the county level, of agricultural pesticides? Why or why not
Yes I support increased regulation of pesticides because we live on an island and if we somehow contaminate our soil and water we cannot just pick up and move. We need to stop a potential problem before it happens not after. Regulating Ag can be problematic due to our vast amount of farmers and land but we need to come up with a system that will work with farmers and not against farmers.
Housing, employment and homelessness
1. How can the county encourage the building of affordable housing?
I think the county should give tax credits or incentives to contractors who build affordable housing at a low cost to the county. As our population grows the need for affordable housing grows.
2. For decades, economic debates have centered on creating jobs. But what is really needed are livings: means to support oneself and ones family. Livings can include not only jobs, self-employment and even subsistence fishing and farming. What can the county do to promote more livings on this island?
(I think I have answered this question in my previous answers.)
3. Historically, planning for housing and jobs on this island has not been conducted with energy sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the long commute between affordable housing in East Hawaii and jobs at the resort nodes in West Hawaii. What can the county do to put people and livings closer together?
I think Waikoloa and Kona needs more affordable housing for workers who have to commute to work on the west side also we need to do something about Banyan drive and help our tourist industry here in Hilo. We need better hotels for visitors so that they do not need to stay on the west side and perhaps this will bring jobs back to the east side.
4. How can the county do to get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?
I think we need a mental health care facility in Hilo that helps to address the homeless needs. Some homeless people who are not from here just need or want a plane ticket to help them get back home to their family in the mainland. We also need more shelters and shelters for families as the need for affordable housing conitnues we need temporary shelters like they do on Oahu. Putting homeless in prison or fining them and then eventually putting them in prison for not paying fines is a waste of time and money. We need better solutions.
Crime and prison reform
1. Would you favor the building of a privately-owned prison on the Big Island?
I do not favor building a privately owned prison here on the Big Island. If we need we can expand on what we have here at Kulani. We need to support youth challenge and the Job corps to help our youth not make those huge mistakes that lead them to prison in the first place. We need to address our youth of today and help them become better men/women tomorrow. We also need to support ex offenders and help them to integrate into the community effectively and stop the recidivism.
2. What can the county do to reduce domestic violence and promote domestic harmony on the island?
Domestic Violence is a problem countywide and nation wide. Once again I think we need more mental health facilities to help couples address their problems such as drug use and/or physical or emotional abuse.
3. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?
I favor the use of Medical Marijuana under strict regulations and also UH Industrial Hemp research for ultimate cultivation.
4. What else can the county do to reduce crime and/or lower the number of incarcerated island residents?
I think we should start at our youth and help them to not go down that path in the first place by more recreational activities. We need a Job Corp facility here similar to the one on Oahu and another youth challenge facility in Kona.
1. What is the biggest transportation need in your district and what can be done to meet it?
Puna’s biggest transportation need is more bus services. We need a bus service every half hour especially in the early morning and afternoon. I have spoken to bus riders and they mostly all complain about having to stand for that long ride into Hilo and back and the long the wait time between buses. If a bus breaks down then there’s another long wait and if you need to make it to an appointment or work in Hilo, you need a reliable bus service.
2. How can the county reduce the amount of driving that its citizens must do?
The simple solution is more updated modern big buses like they have in Honolulu. Perhaps the bus can run on bio-diesel. We could use a ‘Vanpool’ system here on the Big Island. Maybe the county should adopt the ‘Vanpool’ system for its county workers to set an example for the community and to get the system going.
Waste and recycling
1. Do you support Mayor Kenoi’s plan to build a waste-to-energy conversion plant in East Hawaii? Why or why not?
I support a sustainable, low cost, proven waste to energy conversion plant.
2. What can be done to reduce the amount of solid waste created in Hawaii County?
I think we need a ‘every household’ recycling system here on the Big island. Nowadays practically everything can be recycled yet the community is unaware or don’t have the resources such as recycle bins at home, the tools and information that are needed in order to recycle. We need to educate our community and encourage everyone to recycle and help to reduce trash in our landfills.
1. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?
Yes, I approve of and accept campaign contributions from outside my district. Being a native Hawaiian born and raised I have many family members and dear friends who reside all over the state and if they want to contribute money towards my campaign, I think I should be able to receive that contribution. Giving is part of the Hawaiian culture and here in Hawai’i, it is part of the ‘Aloha’ spirit.
2. Do you support publicly funded elections?
I do support publicly funded elections as it gives everyone a chance to run for office. Anyone would be able to run in any election if they had the funds needed to run. There are many community members who can and want to make a difference and all they need is a chance. I am one of them and I know if given a chance I would work hard for our Puna community as I have been doing for decades on a volunteer basis. Please Vote Madie Greene for County Council District 4!
And finally, is there any issue that you feel strongly about but which is not covered above? If so, tell us about it.
Keep Pahoa, “Pahoa” while building a town!
With a 25% census growth and the massive influx of buildings proposed, I think having Design Guidelines for the town which already is being addressed by the Pahoa Regional Town Center Steering Committee will do just that.