Maui Election

CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: Joseph Blackburn – Candidate Maui Council, Wailuku

August 2, 2014, 12:01 PM HST
* Updated August 1, 3:18 PM
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Joseph Blackburn

Joseph Blackburn

By Maui Now Staff

Joseph Blackburn is a candidate for the Maui County Council, Wailuku/Waiheʻe/Waikapū seat.  He is among a list of 2 individuals identified as candidates on the 2014 ballot.

The complete list of candidates (in alphabetical order) includes: Joseph Blackburn II, and Michael Victorino.

Full Name: Joseph Gibson Blackburn II
Date & Location of Birth: July 31, 2014, Honolulu, HI
Current Residence: 2743 Kamaile Street, Wailuku, HI 96793
Occupation: Broker for Maui Land Broker and Property Management, Inc. Retired Maui Fire Rescue Captain and Maui Electric Safety Officer. Former Police Officer.
Elected offices held: No elected office
Education: Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration, University of Hawaii. Bachelors Degree in Public Fire Administration, Western Oregon and Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, California State University at Chico. Over 200 hundred training and certifications including Executive Fire Officer from the National Fire Academy.
Community Involvement:  Chairperson of the Maui Local Emergency Planning Committee for over 10 years about 1992 to 2002; Coach of Menehune Basketball for over 20 years; Member of the Rotary Club of Wailuku; Member of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Maui Chamber of Commerce and Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce; Past Member of Disaster Medical Assistance Team, five years.
Family Status: 33 Years to Shirley Lokelani Blackburn. Three Children, Ikaika Blackburn and Patrick (Hawana) Blackburn both County of Maui Firefighters. Daughter Ariel Blackburn.

Maui Council Candidate Questionnaire:

1. What is the number one issue facing the district you plan to represent? Why do you feel it warrants special attention and what will you do to resolve the issue? If you have more than one item, please elaborate.

Answer: For the residents of the district the major issues are traffic and sports facilities. Traffic is slow in the morning from Waiheʻe though Wailuku Town and also at Lower Beach Road. Both locations are a bottleneck between about 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and again in the afternoon. Before more development is allowed in these areas we must address traffic with another alternate route our of this area.

With only one very old gym in Wailuku (which is now closed for renovation) basketball, volleyball and other teams have no place to practice. What would be great is covered outdoor court like the Island of Hawaii, where multiple teams practice in a covered screened court. Outdoor courts at Wells Park are in poor condition, along with Puʻuohala Camp. For younger team sports there are very limited locations for games and practice. T-ball and other baseball teams, soccer, football and many other team sports are limited in days and times they can practice. We need to look into neighborhood sport fields with adequate parking and restrooms. Light would not be necessary if for younger team sports.

Parking is the number issue for the Businesses in Wailuku Town. We need smaller parking lots, not a big concrete structure. Most businesses need a small area to park for their stores that is within very short walking distance to location. Also need long term parking for employees which again could be part of the smaller lots disbursed though the business district.

Homeless is another issue for Wailuku Town. Our business in right in the middle of Wailuku at the Old Gilberts at the corner of Market and Vineyard Streets. We have seen a great increase in homeless at our location and along Market Street. Coordinate a help and police presence that encourages homeless to seek help. Have a shelter that does not turn you away due to mental health or drug issues.

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We need to help business in Wailuku Town survive. Right now the turnover is great as businesses have a tough time making a profit. Less regulation and having the Maui Redevelopment Agency actually have fund to help invigorate business instead of being another government agency your must get approval from to do anything in Wailuku Town. Encourage a variety of businesses along Main and Market Streets.

2. What are your thoughts on Genetically Modified Organisms and do you foresee a compromise in the longstanding debate between agricultural use of GMOs and environmental concerns?

Answer:  This is the most difficult and complex issue facing our Maui County Voters. My background is that I wrote the Hazardous Materials Response Plan for the County of Maui (Annex P) over 15 years ago. At that time there was no GMO issue to address. The issue was very toxic pesticides that our firefighters would respond to protect the public and the environment. To determine level of response, along with protective actions I had to be Certified First Responder Specialist and Safety Officer with over 160 hours of training in chemistry and site tactics. I also became a National Fire Academy Instructor in response to hazardous materials incidents. Using this background I have researched both the pesticide and GMO issue. The GMO issues is far reaching as to what type of GMO do we ban. If it is any product with GMO ingredients we are looking at over 90% of items found in supermarkets, it would easier to label items that are non GMO. GMO crops are grown to use less pesticides rather than more. If the past we used heavy metals and chemicals like DDT which percolated into our water table, this was not good. The industry then turned to high volatile pesticides which while more toxic, did not remain in the soil for an extended period of time.

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Having responded to chemicals like chorine and methyl bromide which put my firefighters at risk, my actions were based on the chemical databases such as the Chris manual, or agency for toxic substances and dieses registry etc. I find no level A or B (Highly Toxic) recommendation for Round Up which has an active ingredient of Glyphosate. While there are issues with long term effects, the current database I would use to protect the public and my firefighters the does list Glyphosate as a even moderately toxic chemical.

The question of a ban on GMO crops has an immediate effect on the economy of Maui and Molokai. What has become of the land not being used for agriculture and not development. We have seen with demise of Pioneer Mill and Wailuku Agribusiness that loss of agriculture lands lead to more development of these areas with less farming rather than more.

I am concerned about the mixing of chemicals as presented by Dr. Pang and feel this issue needs more research. Until we can find a economically viable crop to replace GMO crops, I would be hesitant to ban GMO crops. More research needs to be done and the Federal (EPA) and State levels.

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Meanwhile I will continue to listen and learn as I have risked my life and the lives of my firefighters in protection of life and environment here in the County of Maui, having started and helped train the first hazardous materials response team

We also have the issue of being self staining as an island. We need more farming not less to help our island and population survive if ever cut off from the rest of the world.

***Candidate spotlight segments were compiled as a public service to further educate and inform Maui voters about the upcoming primary election on August 9, 2014, and the general election on November 4, 2014. The questionnaires  were distributed via mail following the primary election candidate filing deadline for select races affecting Maui County.  The responses do not reflect the opinion or position of Maui Now or Pacific Media Group.

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