Why I am Running

EILEEN OHARA, CANDIDATE

ACCOMPLISHMENTS & ENDORSEMENTS

Honored to be endorsed by the Sierra Club in recognition of my environmental and conservation work.
Humbled to receive this endorsement given that Patsy Mink worked so hard for equal pay, gender rights and environmental issues.

> Worked at HELCO for 5 years as a solar energy specialist installing photovoltaic lighting at boat ramps and along bay front

> Worked at the County as a Planner and at the State as a Contracts Manager for the State hospital system

> Served 4 years on the Environmental Council – the Commission to the Office of Environmental Quality – appointed by the State Senate and also on the 2010 County Cost of Government Commission

> County’s first Recycling Coordinator ushering in 2-stream sort, the HI 5 program and e-Waste recycling

> While on County Council 2016-2018, passed a Resolution making Hwy 132 the County’s first lava recovery project that passed unanimously at County Council while serving as the Lower Puna council person in Nov. 2018

> Passed the ban on Styrofoam take out containers with support from stakeholders across the State – this measure failed previously due to negative votes by my current democratic challenger

> Passed bill extending County Abandoned Vehicle Program to private roads since most of the road miles in Puna are private

> Working with Community Groups, Imua Lower Puna, and affected subdivision community associations to develop lava recovery plans and apply for funding

> Developed excellent working relationships with local and national elected officials

WHY I AM RUNNING:

When State Senator Russell Ruderman, D2 contacted me Sunday May 17 to let me know he was pulling out of his race for re-election, he asked if I would consider running for the State House D4 seat since Representative Joy San Buenaventura had indicated she would vacate her office and run for his seat. While I hadn’t contemplated running this year, it was humbling to be considered. So the following day I pulled papers and have collected the needed signatures to file. My heart is with Lower Puna where I’ve lived and worked with community for forty years. These are hard times for everyone due to the COVID 19, and as we rebuild our economy, it provides an opportunity to integrate sustainable principles and resiliency measures to manage the rapid population growth we’re still experiencing in lower Puna despite being the target over the last six years of multiple natural disasters and a least one man made disaster in the loss of Akebono Theater and Luquin’s building to fire in the middle of Pahoa January 2017.

I bring a lot of experience to the position, both as an elected official, a State Senator’s aide, and years as the County’s first Recycling Coordinator who put our recycling programs on the ground. My first job with the County was as a Planner in 2001 where we worked to develop the community-based planning process now in use in the context of community development planning. With years of experience interacting with government and teaching public policy at the university level, I was able to hit the ground running when I won a term on the County Council in 2016. In two years and with the public’s support, I was able to pass many meaningful measures including the Styrofoam Bill, funding for roadwork, and – my last measure that passed with wide spread community support – a resolution ensuring that recovery of Hwy 132 would be the first lava recovery action.

There is important work to continue at the State level. With other leaders in Lower Puna, I’ve worked with Rep. Joy San Buenaventura to advance projects in Puna; a new or improved boat ramp at Pohoiki and developing state law to improve the functioning of the large substandard subdivisions of Puna. Through my work as Special Projects Manager at Malama O Puna this last year, I’ve helped direct County funding to recover two lava inundated private roads to open up good farm land for Papaya and other crops. With a doctorate in natural resource economics and a background in public policy (I teach online in the Legal Studies Department at Purdue University), I am well suited to the task.

It is especially rewarding to work with the folks of Puna, many of whom have struggled for years to make the needed improvements to our infrastructure and communication networks to allow us to have a thriving rural economy without sacrificing our unique and beautiful natural environment. I look forward to continuing to advocate for Lower Puna’s recovery from the 2018 LERZ eruption and now the impacts of COVID 19 shutdowns. Introducing measures that will help the functioning of the many large substandard subdivisions in the district is very important. Pahoa constitutes the heart of District 4 in terms of commercial services and we need to develop basic infrastructure, such as dealing with waste water, in order to expand medical services and support the small business environment that is the heart of the town.

I hope you will be voting in the upcoming Primary Election on August 8th. This is the first year that Hawaii will vote entirely by mail. So be sure to check with our County Elections office 961-8277 or 808-453-8683 before July 9th regarding whether your mailing address is up to date. You can also check your voter registration status and/or register to vote at https://olvr.hawaii.gov/. Mailed ballots cannot be forwarded so you need to assure they have your correct address. Also, if your signature has changed significantly for any reason, you can call to request a new signature card as that signature verification will be even more important as we switch to voting by mail. Voter Service Centers, where you’ll be able to vote in person (electronic voting only – no paper ballots) will be open only in Hilo and Kona starting July 27 through Primary Election Day, Saturday, August 8. You can also register to vote and then vote the same day by visiting one of these voting service centers.