Kahele looks to bring people together


The boundaries have shifted and moved him into Hawaii’s 1st Senate District, but Gil Kahele is still hoping for a second term representing the island.

Kahele said his legislative strength lies in bringing people together who have the skills to address the island’s problems. Take, for example, education.

“A lot of these ideas (to improve the state’s education system) have been talked about for years,” Kahele, 70, said.

The state needs to “bring the parties together, parents, the Department of Education and government officials. We know what to do. Let’s make it happen.”

He also proposed starting foundations for each school, allowing alumni to make monetary donations to schools they attended. “You have pride, you went to that school,” Kahele said. “Maybe they don’t have the time to be actively involved.”

The proposed cuts to school bus funding aren’t good, nor are cuts to other educational programs, he said. “We should do anything and everything to ensure the child has the best of environments, for buses, for the classroom, for the library,” Kahele said. “Why penalize parents who are trying to just get by and you take away the school bus?”

Kahele said he’s taken his organizational skills to revive projects and keep projects going that previous Legislatures had approved. He noted how he worked to get progress on infrastructure projects, such as a cargo facility in Hilo, the new Ka‘u High School gym and emergency shelter and the Hilo High School gym project.

“Things get stuck,” he said. “I like to get them unstuck.”

In West Hawaii, he’s supported the college campus being built at Palamanui, funding the planned Kona Judiciary complex and improvements at Honokohau Harbor. Kahele’s supportive of exploring other areas for geothermal energy production, although he said he doesn’t necessarily support more drilling in Puna. He’s also a proponent of more use of solar and wind technologies to provide energy to the island.

“It’s going to take the power company, Public Utilities Commission, administration and developers of green technology to come together and reduce and structure it so the benefits come down to the consumers,” he said.

Businesses should be paying to develop more geothermal technologies as the state tries to move away from its fossil fuel dependence.

“They’re in the business to make money,” he said.

Island residents should benefit from the implementation of renewable energy resources. When electricity prices don’t come down, Kahele said, people are frustrated.

He doesn’t support raising any taxes or user fees right now.

During his first term, Kahele also authored and got passed a bill establishing the South Kona Wilderness Area, which sets aside more land as open space in the district.