Senator Kahele on Goals for East Hawaii

“Ready to hit the ground running”

In my experience as Hawai’i Island’s State Senator for District Two, it is vital that the individual who represents East Hawai’i has the necessary Legislature and State Government relationships and contacts to make our government work for the people. 

It is difficult enough to get resolutions and legislation passed by the legislature. Thousands of new bills are submitted every year; less than 10% make it to the Governor’s desk for approval. If it is signed into law, we wait for the Governor to release the funds, (which is completely at his or her discretion). Once the funds are released, we must work with various State agencies and departments to administer the funds, break ground on the project and implement the law. We cannot wait for someone who has to develop those relationships on the job. Whoever represents Hilo must be someone who already has those critical relationships in place. 

“East Hawai’i, the Future of the State”

I see Hawai’i Island, East Hawai’i and in particular Hilo as leading the State in education, tourism, agriculture, sustainability and clean natural energy and power. As Oahu’s population continues to increase, overcrowding, traffic, real estate costs and the high cost of living in general will drive more people to Hawai’i Island. The laid back, small town atmosphere of Hilo, stable real estate prices and potential job opportunities will cause more families to move here to make a home and a living. Basic services will need to be increased, our schools need to be modernized, thus it is important that we plan for that population increase today rather than tomorrow. In order to do this quickly we need a Senator who can work collaboratively with the executive, legislative and county government to make State Government work for East Hawai’i and its current and future residents. 

As your State Senator, I have a plan and vision for Hilo and East Hawai’i. Listed below is the outline of my vision in both short term (immediate) and long term goals that will prepare Hilo for our future generations.

Mahalo! Senator Gil Kahele

Senator Gilbert Kahele





Short Term Goals

(* denotes high priorities)

  • Hilo Cargo Facility*: Work out the details of the project between the Contractor, Department of Transportation and the Department of Accounting and General Services. I want to secure the funding so that construction on the building can begin.
  • Hilo High School Gym*: Continue to work with State and County government to have this project “shovel ready” and construction can begin.
  • Lanakila Homes: Work with the Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority and Department of Accounting and General Services to secure a contractor for the repair and remodel of the remaining units that have been in disrepair for years. Once remodeled, there will be 62 more units available for public housing families who desperately need a place to live.
  • University of Hawai’i Hilo: Facilitate the process between the Administration, Legislature and the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo to ensure progress on two critical projects:
    1. School of Pharmacy Building
    2. Student Housing
  • Capital improvement projects:Follow up on previously approved projects which have been “on the books” for East Hawai’i but for which monies have not been released. The vast majority of these projects are for maintenance and repair and could create immediate jobs for  Hilo contractors and businesses. There are also several new projects that can be expedited, including:
    1. A new Waiakea High School Track
    2. New Waiakeawaena School parking lot on Kino’ole Street
  • Geothermal power expansion in Puna, Volcano and Ka’u, which will reduce high energy costs for Hawai’i Island residents.
  • Bakers Beach to Reeds Bay walkway: A walkway (similar to the Coconut Island bridge) from the new Hilo Harbor expansion to the newly opened Reeds Bay beach park. Part of our long term goal of modernizing Banyan Drive.
  • State Highway 130 improvements: Work with the Department of Transportation to improve the highway between Hilo and Puna by expanding it to four lanes and building the planned roundabout at Kahakai. Install new traffic lights and signals.

Long Term Goals

  • Invasive species: Continue identifying and eradicating plants and animals that have the potential to decimate our critical agricultural industry and precious native species. Top priority: immediate 100% removal of the Axis Deer population.
  • Banyan Drive modernization and rejuvenation.
  • East Hawaii’s public schools: New infrastructure, new classrooms, temperature controlled environments, and technology.
  • Kulani Prison: Bring our local prisoners back from the mainland, allow local families to be closer to their loved ones and relatives, and save the State millions of dollars that can be re-invested in East Hawaii’s economy.
  • Papaya export: Increase export to Japan and Asia.
  • Lunar Aerospace Facility infrastructure at Shipman Industrial Park.
  • Aviation program at the University of Hawai’i Hilo in conjunction with the Hilo International Airport, encouraging education and economic development.
  • East Hawaiʻi Charter schools: Expansion, continued funding and additional resources.
  • University of Hawai’i at Hilo: Support new fields of study at the University to attract more students for research and technology, particularly in Agriculture, Astronomy, Pharmacy and Entomology.
  • University of Hawai’i at Hilo sports programs: Start new programs such as Men’s Volleyball, bringing more student-athletes to Hilo, more families visiting their children, more schools to compete against. This will help support our small businesses and increase tourism.
  • Tourism: Continue to work with the Director of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to expand tourism to East Hawai’i by increasing our air and cruise ship traffic.
  • “Sister Cities” relationships: Create a long-term partnership with India, the State of Hawai’i and Hilo to create “sister cities” and share knowledge and business opportunities for the future. India is expanding rapidly as a global power in the areas of business and technology. Let’s partner with them to expand East Hawaii in the areas of robotics, sustainable energy and new construction technologies.
These links below are from research I did last year on these critical projects for Puna and Volcano and are top priorities for me as well, especially State Highway 130.

State Highway 130 Expansion and Improvements – Puna District

Volcano School of Arts and Sciences Public Charter School-Keakealani Campus