VIDEO: Joseph Blackburn – Candidate Profile 2012
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiJDsF4AFSc /] Interview and transcription by Wendy Osher
INTRO: Tell us about yourself and your campaign.
Aloha. I’m Joe Blackburn. I’m running for the Maui County Council. I was born and raised in Hawai’i. I attended Maryknoll High School. After high school, I went to college in California. I got a bachelor’s degree in business administration and returned home. Not liking the environment that was on O’ahu, I moved to Maui where I started my 32 years in public safety–as a police officer, fire captain, and safety director. I met my wife who said she loves men in uniform, and that was the start of our wonderful marriage that has lasted over 31 years. We have three wonderful children–two of my boys are firefighters, following in their father’s footsteps, and my daughter who’s in college, and five wonderful grandchildren. We are so excited to be a part of this community. My education and experience will give you a candidate that has a background that is very difficult to match for anybody in the county. As a police officer, a fire rescue captain, and a safety director, I was involved in working in the community in may of the fields I will be managing as a legislator for your county council. Please vote for me. I’m excited to be running, and I wish everybody to come out and vote because it’s very, very important. Vote for Joe.
Question 1: What is the biggest problem facing Maui today, and what can you do as a council member to address this issue?
The biggest problem is efficiency of government. Government is there for the people, and they work hard for the people; but I think we’ve lost sight of many of the things that make our economy and our businesses run. The regulation process is so difficult. I can give you example after example of people trying to get permits, or trying to open a business–and the process is just difficult. The government employees are just faced with a multitude of codes and regulations they have to follow. My idea would be to write exemptions into these codes and regulations to allow people to build a smaller restaurant, or to build a smaller home without having to build under the worst case scenario, which the codes are always written towards. The other thing would be water. Water is critical for our community, yet I walked Waikamoi Flumes 20 years ago on a fire rescue and it was leaking like a sieve; and I walked it again a couple of months ago, and it was still leaking–yet we’ve been complaining about no water Upcountry for 20 years, yet this flume has been leaking for 20 years. That’s inefficiency. That flume should have been fixed. It shouldn’t be leaking. Now they say they’re going to fix it, but why has it taken so long? The other thing we really need to be concerned about is increasing fees and costs for our taxpayers. People are going under every single day–they are struggling. Vehicle registration fees, property taxes, permit costs–these all affect people. It’s just insurmountable for a lot of people in that they can’t pay their bills anymore. People are going bankrupt, they’re losing their homes, and we know this–because we manage over 700 owners as a company that deals with homeowner associations. In the end, I can look at efficiency because I have worked in the departments. I’ve worked in the police department–I was in the police car; I’ve worked in the fire department–I was on the fire truck; I’ve worked in the parks department–I can tell you a lot of the inefficiencies, and I can help the departments get better at their jobs. Vote for me because I can help get the answers and help to get the job done.
Question 2: Do you support or oppose the Waiale Development in Central Maui? Why or why not?
The question of supporting or not supporting is a difficult question. What I’m very concerned about is the process. I sat in on the Waikapu Community Association meeting the other day, and their biggest concern was the green belt–that they wanted a green belt between Waikapu and the Waiale Development; and that green belt disappeared. So, the community association was somewhat flabbergasted that their concerns were not addressed. A&B has always been a great partner for us. They’ve done many things for the community, yet as we all know, corporations change, ownership changes–A&B is going to be splitting companies here pretty soon. So, years down the road, are the same entitlements that we are giving now, are they going to be honored by the people that are running the corporation then? So the idea of yes or no–it’s just make sure we address the community’s concerns. The other big concern is the burial of the iwi or the bones in the area. For the Hawaiians, that’s a critical situation. Again, we need to get this in writing that the developer will respect and do everything necessary to protect this situation. And then, people really haven’t talked about where are they going to get the water. I read the US Geological report on the Kahului Aquifer and it’s basically about 1 million gallons a day–which is not going to support this development. So, as we look at it–yes, we need development, we need jobs, we need an economy; but we also have to make sure we address the community’s concerns, our environmental concerns, and of course, what makes Maui special–the concerns of our people and the Hawaiian culture.
Question 3: What makes Maui such a special place and what will you do as a council member to ensure protection and preservation of the island lifestyle?
That’s such a wonderful question, because it’s the people. It’s the people and the environment. That’s what makes Maui special. What we have to look at is the culture. You can go to many islands in the world. I’ve been to Saipan, I’ve been to Rhode Island, I’ve been to Guam, I’ve been to American Samoa. What makes Maui special is the people, and what makes the people special is the Hawaiian culture–that’s where we have to focus on preserving that. My way of doing it would be, I’d like to offer higher education to anybody of Hawaiian ancestry. I think education is the key to survival. The other key is the culture. An interesting thing is my son, when he first went to college, asked me, Dad, what should I study. I knew he loved Hawaiian music, and I said well, what do you want to do. He said, Dad, I’d like to study the Hawaiian language. I said, do what makes you happy. Today he speaks fluent Hawaiian, sings fluent Hawaiian, and his whole family speaks Hawaiian, except for the baby, and the baby’s getting there. So, to me, culture–culture is number one. Number two is environment. We’ve got to protect our environment because that’s why people come here. Our economy is just based on it. The idea for me is, how do you do it–I’m looking at the shoreline. I worked in Saipan–I went down there and taught the fire department and the government people how to respond to incidents. One thing that I noticed was their shoreline was protected. There was no building on the shoreline. That’s something I think we really need to look at as we go down the road of the future generations, is that the shoreline and the beaches should be accessible to all. We should not be putting buildings right on a beach. Across the street fine, but the beaches and the parks, and the shoreline should be access for everybody, not just tourists, not just the rich, not just the locals, but everybody. The only way we do that is to say the shoreline is ours–nobodyelse’s but ours.
So, why vote for Joe? Because Joe has been there. I’ve been on rescues, I’ve been in the police car, I’ve been in the helicopter. I know this community. I’ve been at the bottom of the community arresting people, and I’ve been at the top of the community saving people. I’ve worked in corporate world–I was a safety director for a corporation. I’ve worked in government. I have my own small business, and we’ve been successful since 2008, managing homeowner associations. I have two bachelor’s degrees, and a master’s degree. So, I’m asking you to please make a decision based upon training, experience, qualifications and education. I think it’s critical. We can’t afford to go down the road anymore of not making good decisions for our community. I cannot tell you everything that’s going to get done, because I’m only going to be one. What I can tell you is I will be the hardest working person on the council. I will research, and I will make intelligent, common sense decisions. The way to get a hold of me us is 442-6462, or my website www.blackburn4council.com, or stop by our headquarters that’s going to be open soon at 104 Market Street–the old Gilberts. To the community of Maui, thank you for the time, thank you for the encouragement, and every day I will work hard for you.