County Council District 2 Questionnaire: Margarita “Dayday” Hopkins

What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?
Hawaii County’s economy, including in District 2, is still struggling. Well–?paying jobs for our current residents are scarce. Our children and grandchildren, even those with college degrees, have very little opportunity to stay on our island. Brilliant minds that could contribute to creating a vibrant economy are forced to leave rupturing the ties that bind our extended families together. This is the sad reality even though our island is endowed with numerous unique resources. Jobs creation requires a strong economy and that requires a healthy and safe environment in its broadest sense. County Council must recognize its limitation and focus on local issues. We are a small place in the middle of a big ocean – Council must unite and work together with our private citizens and businesses to provide job opportunities. We need to:
Promote job opportunities in partnership with the private sector;
Work with farmers to increase our local food supply;
Work to reduce homelessness, particularly in downtown Hilo;
Seek improved road safety and access;
Advocate for community–?wide affordable alternative energy;
Make decisions on the fate of the Hilo landfill.
Support the University as a major component of our economy.

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and what would you do about them?
The most important issues for District 2 (see preceding question) are the same for the entire County.

If not covered above, what are your views on:

1. Do you believe the island should increase its use of geothermal energy?

2. If so, what can be done at the county level to address community concerns about geothermal safety?
Better transparency and expansion of the fund to buy-out geothermal neighbors who want to move. And pay them a modest premium for their inconvenience.

3. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for local power generation and/or transportation?
Yes, if it is economically viable and adequate soil conservation practices are required. Land is one of our resources that can be used to increase our self-sufficiency.

4. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for off-island use?
Yes, if it is economically viable and adequate soil conservation practices are required. Land is one of our resources that can be used to provide jobs for our children and grandchildren, as few of them have the benefit of trust funds and income from outside the 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?
I have not made up my mind one way or the other and do not engage in knee-jerk Oahu bashing, even though it feels good. There are both benefits and potential costs to our island. Our electrical stability should increase because energy can flow from Oahu to here, not just the other way.
Energy generation here provides jobs. The key is how the energy will be generated and the impacts of that generation on our island. I need to see much more concrete proposals.

6. What can be done to allow the county and its population to use less energy?
Decrease the reliance on fossil fuels by
Increasing public transportation. The “free” bus was a great idea but it needs to service more area and be more convenient.
Add and improve bike lanes
Encourage more electrical charging stations
Support the proposed research on hydrogen-powered buses.

Decrease electrical consumption by
Requiring LEED certification for all new County buildings
Continue to support a County energy coordinator to monitor energy use within County government and explore newtechnologies to reduce energy consumption. Revise building codes to allow greater use of alternate, yet safe,building methods that reduce energy requirements.

1. What can the county do to encourage more local food production for local markets?
Work with the farmers to collaboratively meet key infrastructure needs (that cannot be met by the private sector alone because of economies of scale). For example,
Mobile slaughterhouses
Feed mill
Consolidation and storage facilities
Improve information collection and distribution re: markets, prices, etc.
Work with the University, USDA and HDOA to rejuvenate the agricultural extension service that has been gutted in recent years.
Encourage use of locally-produced foods by schools and government facilities.
Expand and simplify the County seed-grant program for innovative agricultural technologies
Support all types of farming, not just the organic methods preferred by some Council members. Whether they like it or not, organic farming is small with conventional farms providing 90 to 95% of our food.

2. Do you support the regulation, at the county level, of genetically modified crops?
No, because the County does not have the expertise nor the authority to do so. We are being used as pawns by both the large environmental organizations and the biotech industry. And all the County has accomplished is wasting time and resources on attorneys. That being said, I am not opposed to standardized federal regulation requiring labeling of GMO foods and medicines.

2. Do you support increased regulation, at the county level, of agricultural pesticides?
No, because the County does not have the expertise nor the authority to do so. Again, we are being used as pawns by both the large environmental organizations and the biotech industry. And all the County will accomplish is wasting time and resources on attorneys. That being said, I strongly support education campaigns to reduce the usage of pesticides, including in urban settings.

Housing, employment and homelessness
1. How can the county encourage the building of affordable housing?
Speed up the building permit process
Encourage new, more cost-efficient, building technologies
Reduce subdivision requirements when lots are large enough (2 or 3
acres?) so that impacts on neighbors are minimal
Require a bond for affordable housing when new developments are approved and then actually, enforce the housing requirements or collect the bond and use it for affordable housing.

2. For decades, economic debates have centered on creating jobs, and jobs were often assumed to be employment with large companies or the government. But efforts to create jobs with large corporate endeavors have often met with fierce local resistance on this island—Oji Paper, the Ka’u private prison, and various proposed resorts come to mind. And Hawaii Island’s economy has always included thousands of people making their livings in other ways, such as self-employment and even subsistence fishing, hunting and farming. Entire communities, such as Holualoa, Hawi, and Honoka`a, have little corporate presence but many locally-owned businesses and home-based entrepreneurs. Given this context, what can the county do to promote more livings of all sorts onthis island?

This is the most important problem facing our community. The County should support all types of business. But there are no magic bullets. At present, County Council does not support job creation, it impedes it. It is paralyzed with indecision and uses the precautionary principle and a need for “perfect information” as excuses for doing nothing except hiring more consultants. Council is very adverse to controversy and strives for consensus.
Unfortunately, consensus is impossible to achieve as the “CAVE” people do exist, have found a way to live in their paradise, and will be opposed to any change. They are very vocal and have the time and resources to lobby Council. But Council must look beyond them to the vast silent majority who do not have the luxury of trust funds, fortunes made elsewhere, nor inherited lands. Council must evaluate each project regardless of type based on its economic and environmental merits, particularly its potential for creating well-paying jobs. Council should politely listen to our citizens but it must stand up to the bullies who have little regard for the less fortunate, often minority communities.

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?
Any new major project should be required to build or finance affordable housing within a short commuting distance (10 or 15 miles?).
4. What can the county do to get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?
The reality is the County only gives lip-service to the homeless problem. The County lost a great opportunity to convert the old Hilo Hotel into a homeless shelter but did not provide the required financial support. There are numerous strategies and organizations working to address this problem but they all need money. We must support them.
Crime and prison reform
1. Would you favor the building of a privately-owned prison on the Big Island?
2. What can the county do to reduce domestic violence and promote domestic harmony on the island?
Collaborate with and support the organizations that are active in providing services to address this issue.
3. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?
Yes. Because prohibition has been counterproductive. That being said, distribution to minors and driving under the influence must be severely punished. Programs to provided factual education about marijuana’s effects and misuse are necessary and must be funded.
4. What else can the county do to reduce crime and/or lower the number of incarcerated island residents?
Increase police presence, particularly in high crime areas and encourage and support neighborhood watch programs.
1. What is the biggest transportation need in your district and what can be done to meet it? Better public transportation by increasing both the coverage and frequency of bus services

2. How can the county reduce the amount of driving that its citizens must do?
Increase the number of County Services that can be accessed through the internet and mail including payment by credit card. Provide County Services on a scheduled basis at the various Community Centers around the island.
Waste and recycling
1. Do you support Mayor Kenoi’s plan to build a waste-to-energy conversion plant in East Hawaii?
The County has been dithering over this issue for many years while the cost has sky-rocketed. Many highly qualified persons support waste-to energy after recyclables have been removed. Let’s accept that we will never have perfect information and make a decision based on all of the consultants’ reports that are already crowding County shelves!

2. What can be done to reduce the amount of solid waste created in Hawaii County?
Make recycling easy. Restricting types of wastes to be recycled coupled with limited hours of operation and few recycling sites is counterproductive.

1. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?
Yes. When you are not the anointed one, you should use whatever resources are available to you as long as there are no strings attached. My supporters from outside the district support me because of my positions.

2. Do you support publicly funded elections?
Yes. But, unfortunately, the public has not provided adequate funds for this (required by the existing system). Thank you for this opportunity to respond to a very well thought-out set of questions.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *