Platform

PLATFORM

EILEEN OHARA, CANDIDATE

Working with the community of Lower Puna is the core of my platform. If elected to this position, my first action will be to hold a town hall, hopefully in-person as well as virtually, to consider what’s most important to you, the people of the district.

As we work together to rebuild the economic vitality of this rural district, let’s focus on the opportunity to integrate resiliency principles into our economic and educational activities. Our shared goal is to have a vibrant and sustainable community that provides opportunities for our keiki.

In the past, Lower Puna’s main economic drivers have been agriculture, commercial fishing, and placed-based tourism. Lower Puna also struggles with poor road conditions, homelessness, joblessness, and a insufficient medical and social assistance services strategically located to support the population. Below are some thoughts already shared with me regarding how to stimulate this area after the impacts of the 2018 eruption and the COVID-19 closures.

  • Support for agricultural businesses growing foods and/or producing products primarily for local consumption
  • Develop agricultural networks to support small and medium sized farms
  • Modify state land use laws to encourage small farms and reforestation projects in our rural district such as:
    • Promote the expansion of Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and food resiliency hubs
    • Provide hands on education to empower residents to grow some of their own food
    • Lift certain restrictions that would allow more direct “farm to consumer” sales
    • Encourage the establishment of state agricultural parks that work in tandem with local agricultural makery projects to develop more value-added marketable products
    • Stand up partnership programs in agriculture with our community college, university, cooperative extension and local non profits to expand jobs and train workers’ with skills for employment
    • Promote ag-tourism by reducing restrictions imposed by state laws
  • Advocate for establishment of a permanent commercial boat ramp at Pohoiki to support access to the abundant marine resources off the Puna coast and contribute to the district’s economic recovery
  • Work with the County to ensure safe vehicular access to Pohoiki for fishermen and recreational users
  • Work to establish access to new State lands created by the 2018 lava flows and organize the services needed to support respectful use of culturally sensitive areas and ensure environmental quality is maintained
  • Assist in developing appropriate venues to promote cultural, place-based tourism in the district that is sustainable and respectful of the environment
  • Enhance educational opportunities in the district by seeking alternative ways to fund public education, improve facilities for charter schools, and provide a network for remote learning both at the high school and college level
  • Develop the infrastructure need to provide needed medical services in the district that are responsive to the health issues of the community
  • Support low cost housing options and food programs to ensure all residents have access to shelter and proper nutrition
  • Expand state laws on the functioning of homeowner associations to provide assistance with private road maintenance and establish better governance models for homeowner associations.