Pajimola: Education, elected school boards top priorities


Hawaii’s Board of Election should be elected, not appointed by the governor, said Noralyn Pajimola, a Pepeekeo resident and Democrat seeking the House District 1 seat.

Though only instituted two years ago, at the behest of Hawaii’s voters, having the governor appoint members to the Board of Education might be biased and keep ideas that could improve Hawaii’s public school system from being considered, Pajimola said. She said she voted for the appointed school board then, but feels differently now.

“Anytime you have anything appointed, they are going to be more biased to one side than the other,” she said. “When you have someone appointing a board, you appoint people who will side with your opinion and you won’t see the other side of the issue.”

If elected to represent constituents spanning North Kohala, Hamakua and North Hilo, Pajimola said she would introduce a measure to do away with the appointed board in favor of an elected one, which had been used since the mid-1960s to select the 14 board members. Pajimola faces incumbent Mark Nakashima, who is seeking his second term in office, in the Aug. 11 primary election for the Democrat ticket.

To further improve Hawaii’s public education, Pajimola calls for providing equal tutoring opportunities at all schools — no matter the area’s income or ability to meet adequate yearly progress.

“We need funding for tutoring because a majority of the schools on the Big Island have not passed AYP,” Pajimola said. “If a school is not passing standards, then based on the area’s income they can get state-funded tutoring — but what about the other schools that are passing on the borderline? They should be able to offer the same tutoring programs so they can catch up with their standards.”

Pajimola also noted she’d like all public schools to offer the same electives and extracurricular activities and less “hopping” from subject to subject in textbooks so that parents can more easily help their children with homework.

As for school busing, she said she would vote for continued funding to ensure children get to school to get the education they need.

To reduce Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels, Pajimola said the state needs to assist in getting private companies to further develop Hawaii’s alternative energy sources. Whether that is solar, wind or even biomass has yet to be told, she said.

“We need to get the technology going for renewable energy,” she said.

As for geothermal energy being one of the state’s alternative energy sources to pursue, Pajimola said she supports an increase in production, with caveats. She also emphasized the state should not relax environmental requirements but instead require developers to adhere to federal environmental standards.

“I’m for it so long as it doesn’t affect the safety and health of the people,” she said. “As a representative, you have to think of people’s health and safety first.”

Funding, however, should be on the shoulder of the developer because the state, right now, just does not have the wherewithal to assist financially, she said.

Pajimola was unable to say whether she would or would not raise taxes, but noted a tax increase should always be a last resort.

“We should always try to find other means before raising taxes,” she explained. “Right now, we’re in a bad economy, so, everybody is pinching on their paycheck, but again if I don’t say ‘yes’ to an increase it may mean losing some of our important programs.”

As for user fees, Pajimola said she would have to look at the specific fee and whether the increase will fund that service.