Hawai'i County has a contentious race for Mayor, with 13 candidates vying for the job. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a closer look at some of the candidates and their priorities. First up, former Hawai'i County Council Member Pete Hoffmann, who served Kohala in that job for 8 years. From Kona, HPR’s Sherry Bracken reports.
Retired Army Colonel Pete Hoffmann announced his campaign for Mayor last Fall, the first candidate to do so. Hoffmann is clear about his number one priority “the most pressing issue we do have is poverty. More than 20% of the people on this island live at or below federal poverty levels. There is no silver bullet that would solve poverty… We need to greatly increase our investment in our agricultural sector… we can feed ourselves and over the long term we can become the bread basket for the state of Hawai'i. This can be a huge revenue generator, some estimate at $2 billion dollars… I’d make county land available to nonprofit coops.”
Hoffmann says funding for these types of programs can come from more than just Hawai'i County property taxes, currently the biggest source of County revenue “I’d like to see an office of 4 or 5 people to oversee and review agricultural programs. There are millions of dollars in the rural development programs in Washington available to municipalities for rural development aid.”
Hoffmann acknowledges we need to have more farmers. “I’d like to work with the University of Hawaii and develop courses of education for our high school seniors, career jobs in agriculture to grow people interested in commercial agriculture.”
Hoffmann says other critical needs include more affordable housing and improved health care.