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The Conversation: Fixing Hawaii's Long Voter Lines

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Concerns about long voting lines; Voters approve new Maui agriculture department; Suicides down despite pandemic; Coffee leaf rust found on Maui; HPM Building Supply on nearly century-old family business

Credit City and County of Honolulu

Concerns about long voting lines

Four hour waits to vote? County election officials were caught flatfooted with a last minute surge on some Islands. Common Cause warned of this scenario and even considered legal action over it. Executive Director Sandy Ma tells us what their volunteers saw on the ground. The state's Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago plans to meet with county clerks to find out what it can do to avoid the late crowds, which delayed the counting of the returns. City and County of Honolulu Clerk Glen Takahashi tells us what went wrong.

Sandy Ma, executive director, Common Cause; Glen Takahashi, City Clerk, City & County of Honolulu

Voters approve new Maui agriculture department

Over 60 percent of Maui voters approved a charter amendment that would create a Maui County Department of Agriculture. The proposal says that the department would be an advocacy group and would not be another regulatory body. Among its duties would be to create a sustainable, regional agricultural system for Maui County. Maui County Councilman Shane Sinenci introduced the charter amendment proposal and tells us more about how it will work. Maui County Farm Bureau Executive Director Warren Watanabe shares some of his members' concerns. 

Maui County Councilman Shane Sinenci; Warren Watanabe, executive director, Maui County Farm Bureau
Credit PxHere

Suicides down despite pandemic

Preliminary data from state health regulators shows that suicide deaths in Hawaii have actually decreased slightly during the coronavirus pandemic, bucking the expectations of many. Civil Beat reporter Brittany Lyte tells us more about these counterintuitive findings. Click here to read her story at

Civil Beat Reporter Brittany Lyte
Credit Courtesy State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Coffee leaf rust

Coffee leaf rust found on Maui

Agriculture officials are preparing to release rules to restrict movement of potentially infected coffee plants from island to island following the discovery of a devestating leaf rust that could wreak havoc on our coffee industry. Kevin Hoffman is the plant industry administrator with the state Department of Agriculture. He says the two worst pests that threaten farmers are the coffee borer beetle, which has already made its way here, and the coffee rust, despite efforts to keep them out of the Islands.

Kevin Hoffman, administrator, Plant Industry Division, State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Credit Courtesy HPM Building Supply
Jason Fujimoto, President and CEO, HPM Building Supply

HPM Building Supply on nearly 100-year-old family business

We hear from a Hawaii Island business set to mark its centennial next year. Hawaii's economy has been likened to a three-legged stool: Tourism is one leg, the military is another and construction is the third. We recently talked with Jason Fujimoto, CEO of HPM Building Supply. The fifth-generation Big Island company has managed to expand its footprint across the state durig this economic and health crisis.

Jason Fujimoto, president and CEO, HPM Building Supply

Catherine Cruz is the Host of The Conversation and a member of HPR’s news team. She has been a television reporter in Hawai‘i since 1983 and has won a number of awards and respect from a statewide audience. She spent more than thirty years at KITV, covering beats from government to education and health. Originally from Guam, Cruz is also a co-founder and former Board member and programming chair of Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC). Catherine is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Jason Ubay is HPR's news editor. Send your story ideas to him at
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