Interview and transcription by Wendy Osher
INTRO: Tell us about yourself and your campaign.
Aloha. I’m Senator J. Kalani English, representing the 7th District Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lana’i, and Kaho’olawe. I’m running for my fifth term in the state Senate. I’m originally from Hana, and I live there today. Since 2000, I’ve been in the Hawai’i State Senate, representing this wonderful district. I’m looking forward to a fifth term, and looking forward to representing you in the legislature.
Question 1: What are your thoughts on the proposed Advanced Technology Solar Telescope atop Haleakala. Do you support or oppose the project?
This federal project on top of Haleakala is really meant to look at the deep space, and to look at the sun and its effect on the planet. There were 16 places on the Earth that they looked at and Maui, Haleakala was a place that they chose because of the clarity of our skies, the stability of our atmosphere, and the ability to look into deep space. This project has been going since the mid-2000s until the present, and one of the big issues around it of course has been the cultural sensitivity and the Hawaiian issues on the sites close to this particular area. This is a partnership of 22 institutions around the world, working with the University of Hawai’i and our astronomy institute. There’s many good things about it, and there’s some down sides about it. I think that when we look at it, we have to first be very sensitive to the cultural and social environment that this telescope is coming into. Haleakala is getting filled. We’re getting a little bit crowded up there, and I think we have to look at the master plan for the whole area, and know when to say ‘this is the last one’ or ‘nomore’; and when to say we’ve built to our capacity on the mountain. From a scientific standpoint, I think we have to support this project, because we need this information for really, as far as satellite communications, and looking at how the Sun affects the satellites and the communications that we all depend on–cell-phones, TV, etc. But, we must always have to watch and ensure that the cultural part is taken care of–that the Hawaiian aspect is honored, and that our people honored, and that the access to the sites are maintained. So, yes, support it, but make sure that we maintain the cultural aspects.
Question 2: Do you support or oppose the construction of a prison in Pu’unene on Maui? Explain.
We have always supported the construction of a prison in Pu’unene on Maui. The Senate team from Maui County–myself, Senator Baker, Senator Tsutsui–has through two different administrations, continually supported the building of a prison in Pu’unene. The current prison is in very, very bad condition. It’s overcrowded, and we really need to create a new facility. With that said, I have opposed the idea of spending about $225 million to build this facility. Yes, we need the facility; but, if we’re going to spend that kind of money, we really should put it towards a world-class university here on Maui–improve the University of Hawai’i Maui College campus, make it into a full college, a full university, with that kind of money. So, yes, we really support building the prison. We want to bring our prisoners home to Maui. We want to have humane facilities for them; however, the cost is just too great at this time. In the end, we’re going to support the prisons, but we’re going to try to find a way to bring down this huge cost to make it both affordable and functional for our society.
Question 3: Discuss your thoughts on clean energy and its role in the Maui Community. How do you envision Maui’s clean energy future and how can the legislature facilitate that vision?
I’ve been involved in cane energy, and renewable energy in Hawai’i for my entire political career–over 16 years. I was chair of the energy and environment committee in the Senate when we passed the energy reform bills, the solar tax credit–which was my bill, and a number of other bills that created the current infrastructure, and the current regime that we have, dealing with renewable energy in Hawai’i. For clean energy for Maui County, I’m really hoping that we can look at a couple of things that are sort-of outside of the box. The first is developing our indigenous energy on each island to first supply the needs of each island. Looking at a different way of how the grids are supplied, and looking at a different way of calculating just what is firm power, and what is renewable. The problem that I see today is that we are tied to a very old way of calculating energy and we have a lot of new technologies, that once they come into play, will give us the ability to harness more of our indigenous energy on each island. I think Maui County–all three of our inhabited islands–and Kaho’olawe, have a chance of producing the power that they need to consume first, and then we can look at how we can bring in the newer technology–such as wave energy, and algae energy, etc., so that we can build on what we have. I think we have a very strong, strong future in indigenous energy in each island; and I also think that in Hawai’i, especially in Maui County, we have the means and the political will to make it all happen.
Mahalo. I’m Senator J. Kalani English, running for the 7th Senatorial District–Hana, East & Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lana’i, and Kaho’olawe. I ask for your continued support. I ask for your vote in the next election. You can find out more about me at www.kalanienglish.com, or go to Facebook and go to my fan page, Facebook.com/senatorjkenglish, or on twitter at jkalanienglish.