CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: Nick Nikhilananda – Candidate Council, East Maui
By Maui Now Staff
Nick Nikhilananda is a candidate for the County Council, East Maui seat. He is among a list of three individuals identified as candidates on the 2014 ballot.
The complete list of candidates (in alphabetical order) includes: John Blumer-Buell; Bob Carroll; and Nick Nikhilananda.
Full Name: Nick Nikhilananda
Date and location of Birth: December 24, 1950; Brooklyn, New York, New York
Current residence: Huelo
Occupation: Candidate – Maui County Council
Elected offices held, if any: None
Education: Master’s Degree (M.A.) Public Law/Urban Affairs; The American University, Washington, D.C – 1975; Bachelor’s Degree (B.A.) – Political Science; Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois – 1972; Hawai’i Facilitator Certificate; Mediation Services of Maui – 2008; Legal Research and Lexis/Westlaw Certificate 2002; Maui Community College – OCET; Mediation Certificate; Mediation Services of Maui, Inc. – 1991; Real Estate Salesman License; Hawaii Institute of Real Estate – 1987
Community Involvement: State Co-Chair, Green Party of Hawai’i (GPH), 2009 – 2014
Co-Chair, Maui County GPH, 1994 – 2000; Member, Coordinating Committee, GPH, 2008 – present; Producer/Host, Maui Talks-TV, Live, Twice Monthly Public Affairs Call-In Talk Show, Akaku, 2002 – 2011; Maui County Commissioner, Maui County Board of Variances and Appeals, 1995 – 2000; Member, Maui County Mayor’s Task Force on Higher Education, 1993 – 1995; Board of Directors, Member, Akaku: Maui Community Television, 2001 – 2006; Board of Directors, Member, (Past President), Ha’iku Community Association, 1999 – 2006; Volunteer Mediator, Mediation Services of Maui, Inc. 1991- 2010; Volunteer Mediator, District Court, Small Claims Court Division, 2000-02; Volunteer Counselor, Imua Rehab Summer Camp, 1991, ‘92, ‘93, ‘99
Candidate, Maui County Council – 1992, ‘94, ‘98, 2000, ‘06; United States Congress, 2nd District, ‘02/‘03.
Family status: Single
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: The first item to point out is that where I reside, Huelo, is the most western section of the “district” which I am seeking election, East Maui, and is part of a different Community Plan area. Huelo, Honopou, and Kailua are in the Ha’iku/Pa’ia Community Plan District and included in the Ha’iku Community Association, plus currently our precinct votes in Ha’iku! Nevertheless, for the “County Council” we are part of the “residential” district of East Maui. Every resident of Maui County votes for all nine council candidates; we do “not represent” a district, we must “reside” in a district. For the last fourteen years, I have felt more represented by the two West Maui County council-members. All this being said, being a rural area, the entire region must deal with the lack of governmental and various services plus the remoteness of the communities. Our County Code (see Section 7, S2.80B.80) requires the Community Plans be updated every ten years. The “Hana” Community Plan has not been updated since 1994! This is dereliction of duty and nonfeasance by our County Government.
The East Maui area is incredibly ecologically and historically sensitive. It includes our watershed which a for-profit multinational corporation controls, though our State Constitution demands water is to be “…held in trust by the State for the benefit of the people.” This area’s economy is primarily subsistence activities, diversified agriculture and tourism. The lack of economic opportunities, affordable housing and infrastructure are perhaps the most significant items to be addressed. Because of the regions’ seclusion, more government services are necessary, for the health, safety and convenience of the residents. There needs to be a balance between any development and the cultural and environmental sensitivities of the area.
With many of the streams and creeks of East Maui being diverted, it is a tragic consequence for those who are attempting to promote and live a more subsistence existence. Every creek must be restored and water reintroduced into all of the streams of the region. It is killing the ecological balance of the land and hurting those individuals attempting to live off of the aina. There needs to be a commitment by everyone in County and State government to support the residents of East Maui.
How we balance the need for alternative economic development and opportunities while keeping the uniqueness of the region, so as to provide a self-sustaining lifestyle is the key challenge. Support from County, State and Federal economic opportunity programs must be employed. Preservation of the region’s unique characteristics is essential, including the fragile environmental and the Hawaiian lifestyle of many of the residents. Any and all development in the region must take into account and conform with this reality.
Recent issues include the fact that State FAD’s are out of service and need redeployment, impacting fisherman plus anyone who consumes local fish. Another recent challenge is the County now hauling all green waste to the Central Maui Landfill to make into mulch, denying use by the local residents.
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: It is possible that research may find that being exposed to genetically modified organisms do not pose any health and safety concerns. Long term clinical trials and blind testing over a period of time, by neutral researchers, is necessary. The long-term effects of genetically modified foods remain unknown.
Cross pollination, contamination and open air testing by bio-chemical companies is unacceptable. Claims to their harmlessness are not necessarily to be trusted. There is anecdotal evidence to question that.
There is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that this technology is claimed to address already exist. As we sadly found out with the tobacco industry, years of testimony and self-serving research proved to be spurious. The “tobacco strategy” included misrepresenting the science and discrediting responsible scientists in order to avoid meaningful regulation of harmful products and practices.
When a compromise is reached, neither side gets what they want and thus one hundred percent of the people are not content. However, if our goal is an integration of the various points and positions, then we can eventually reach a win/win situation where just about every competing interest is honored and satisfied. So all players involved in the proliferation of GMO’s in our communities must be willing to sit down with everyone interested in this subject and committed to share with honesty, integrity and a desire to come to a solution that is right for as many people as possible.
Conventional plant breeding, helped by safe modern technologies such as gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GMO’s in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs. What is needed is productive, climate-ready, and disease-resistant agriculture.
All farming comes with responsibility to neighbors, residents in the vicinity and respect for the aina. Controls must be in place to protect the health and safety of the community. It seems that testing done in enclosed locations, where there is absolutely no chance of cross pollination to neighboring farmers is a desired goal.
Why would someone be against labeling products containing GMO’s which are for human consumption? It is unfathomable why a producer would not want to protect the health and safety of the consumer. Thousands of products are labeled as to their content. What is more urgent then to label food people are consuming?
Why are multinational bio-chemical companies controlling and manipulating our food? They are first and foremost chemical companies, producing some of the most toxic and dangerous products on the planet. Respondents to recent polls found that an overwhelming majority said that foods containing GMO’s should be identified. GMO crops and associated pesticides should be more stringently regulated. For health and safety reasons, until such time as the safety of GMO’s can be secured, I would support a moratorium, which is the responsible course of action for a community that has been failed by its federal and state representatives and regulators.
***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.