County Council District 2 Election Questionnaire: Kerri Petersen Marks

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and what would you do about them?
It is my goal to bring a new level of transparency, accountability, and action to the County Council while improving the level of services to the people of District 2. We need to make our government more accessible by improving communication and access to records. The County’s communication tools need to be updated, expanded upon, and made more user friendly for both staff and the public. Some are simple fixes, like updating the County website to include all public testimony sites and better calendar functions for public meetings and other County sponsored activities. Other solutions will require cooperation and leadership to incorporate new tools like social media and make our public records easier to access and create systems less dependent on paper.” She wants to “upgrade infrastructure and make accessibility a priority,” and expand public transit.” She’s also a strong advocate for “home rule”: decisions about what happens on our island should be made here, on our island. “
We also need to upgrade our infrastructure and make accessibility a priority. Public transit needs to become a reliable service again for our students, workforce, and businesses. We need to support small businesses and aloha our tourism industry. I am a strong proponent of home rule and believe decisions about what happens on our island should be made here, on our island. Above all, we need to protect the health and safety of all our residents and visitors. County government is where the rubber hits the road, and with the right leadership and the support of the public, I believe Hawai’i Island can thrive again.

If not covered above, what are your views on:
1. What can the county do to encourage more local food production for local markets?
We need to support and improve our agriculture infrastructure, irrigation systems, and distribution facilities. Providing low cost, reliable water for food production is key to increasing the amount of food we can produce locally. Establishing and improving distribution centers where small farmers can bring their produce to be washed and prepared for market will help both the farming community and the people by providing a fresh wide variety of locally grown foods.
2. Do you support the regulation, at the county level, of genetically modified crops? Why or why not?
Yes. People have a right to know what they are eating, and everyone has a right to safe, healthy food. Flowers, papaya, coffee, and macadamia nuts have been an important part of our local economy for decades and will continue to be an important part of our ag industry. We need to increase support for small and organic farmers who generally endure more regulation and higher costs than bigger ag operations. Hawai’i Island has an excellent opportunity to market itself as a sustainable, environmentally aware and ecologically sustainable visitor destination. Ag Tourism is a growing and viable industry this island should take full advantage of to share our aloha aina and create green jobs. This island sustained itself with a much larger population for 2,000 years before contact. It’s time we reestablish some of those ideologies, learn from and support our host culture.
3. Do you support increased regulation, at the county level, of agricultural pesticides? Why or why not
Yes. Hawaii Island and its residents are not Round-Up ready. I support regulation and enforcement of all pesticide and herbicide use. Our local farmers need to be encouraged and supported in using cost effective alternatives to chemical inputs like mulching and natural farming methods. We live in a fragile and unique place, and we have to take care of our land and reefs.
1. Do you believe the island should increase its use of geothermal energy?
No. Hawai’i Island has had geothermal energy for over 30 years, and it has not proven to be a cheap or clean resource. We pay the #1 highest electric rates in the nation; more than double what the #2 state New York pays. Geothermal energy production comes at huge cost, taking decades to recoup its construction costs. All of our current and proposed energy production is in a lava zone that WILL be inundated again some day, potentially affecting the plant itself or it may cut off the power lines that feed that energy back to the grid, leaving the population that depends on that energy source in jeopardy. The residents of Puna have complained for 30 years of health problems and the EPA recently found PGV in violation of 14 items, some of which still need to be addressed. Beyond all that, the process of extracting geothermal energy is offensive to native traditional cultural practitioners, and I strongly believe the host culture should be respected.

2. If so, what can be done at the county level to address community concerns about geothermal safety?
The County needs to follow through on it’s promise of a health study and make sure that the needs of it’s people outweigh the bottom line of an industry. We need to create an emergency evacuation plan for the residents within 10 miles while the plant continues to operate, and make sure residents are educated on where to go and what to do in the event of another steam release or other emergency. We need to demand some more transparency and accountability from PGV and make sure that safety issues inside the plant and within the community most directly affected are dealt with.

3. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for local power generation and/or transportation?
Yes. Biofuels are a good bridge fuel that can help us move away from importing expensive, dirty fossil fuels. Creating biodiesel out of used cooking oil is an excellent way to take care of a problem that previously caused terrible blight on our landscape and in our landfills while providing a renewable fuel for transportation. Transportation energy is one of the most important facets of our local economy, as it affects not only the cost of traveling to and from places, but also our food costs and other goods and services.

4. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for off-island use?
No. Viable farmland should be used to produce food and fuel for the residents and visitors of this island. We import over 80% of our food and almost all of our transportation fuel. We have to focus our efforts here to be more sustainable and resilient, and make the changes that will improve the lives of people on this island.

5. Do you believe an undersea power cable should be built to transport Big Island-generated energy to O`ahu? Why or why not?
No. Hawai’i rate payers are already at breaking point. We cannot afford and do not need another billion dollar boondoggle. Sister islands should not be subjugated to the will and power of Oahu. Each island should take care of their own energy needs, and stand up for home rule and sustainability. Most people that can afford PV have installed systems at their home and either left the grid or feed clean, renewable energy back via net metering. We need to move toward decentralized and distributed power generation and away from supporting a 100+ year old centralized grid technology.

6. What can be done to allow the county and its population to use less energy?
Despite an increasing population, the total energy use on Hawaii Island has stayed basically the same for the last several years indicating that people are using less. Products are being made more energy efficient all the time, and the exceedingly high cost of power has had even more effect on individual power use. Heating water is the largest part of almost everyone’s home energy bill. Installing a solar water heater can save as much as 40% on your bill.

1. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?

2. Do you support publicly funded elections?
Yes. I am a strong supporter of clean elections and publicly funded campaigns. Money has become a corrupting influence on our elections, and I believe campaign finance reform is the change that makes all other change possible. I have worked to pass campaign finance reform measures in Hawaii and nationally for years. I have gathered petition signatures, phone banked, organized and participated in direct actions to raise awareness, and testified in favor of many bills supporting publicly funded campaigns and resolutions to end Citizen’s United. Corporate and special interests have far too much power in our democracy and we must take action to balance the scales.

And finally, is there any issue that you feel strongly about but which is not covered above? If so, tell us about it.
I have spent the last several years attending and testifying at hearings of all types, and am well acquainted with the issues that affect Hawai’i Island. I have worked with many community groups and organizations to raise awareness and effect change on issues such as HELCO’s unfair rates, mauka/makai access, land use issues, marriage equality, and abolishing the Public Land Development Corporation just to name a few.

I am a team builder and a consensus maker. I believe in listening to all sides of the issues and strive to make informed decisions that bring the most benefit for everyone. Hawai’i Island is a unique place in the world, and a special place to all of us. I intend do my utmost to help shape a positive future and look forward to the opportunity to serve.


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