Candidates talk pakalolo

PAHOA, Hawaii: The multitude of political forums is winding down as the primary election nears…

Numerous candidates for various state and county office spoke before a crowd at the Akebono Theater in Pahoa on Saturday, the small town in the heart of the Puna district.

The forum was hosted by Tiffany Edwards-Hunt and her Big Island Chronicle blog, which just went to print with its first ever newspaper. Copies have been flying off the racks island-wide. It also happened to by Tiffany’s birthday. The 36 year old spent it immersed in one of her passions… local politics.

The fast growing Puna district has a set of unique issues. Comprised of large, private subdivisions, the population has not seen adequate infrastructure put in place over the years. Plus, the district is swirling with debates on hot topics like geothermal, building codes, and the use of marijuana.

Therefore, a trip to Puna for a candidate forum can be like entering the lion’s den for these prospective officials.

An interesting round of questions came early for these Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney candidates… A question we did not hear at a forum held in Hilo, recently.

Moderator Sherry Bracken of Lava 105.3 asked about the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority of Cannabis, voted into law by voters as a ballot referendum in 2010… but since, then, the county government has been accused of failing to honor the law.

The question came up again later in day… this time it was posed to county mayoral candidates… incumbent Billy Kenoi, council chair Dominic Yagong, former mayor Harry Kim, and three other faces on the ballot, assembled for the first time on one stage:

Share Christie, a co-defendant in the religious freedom to use marijuana case, one of the “Green Fourteen” arrested in 2010 for her involvement with the Cannabis THC Ministry, founded by her husband, Roger Christie. Christie has been detained by the feds since 2010 as he awaits trial.

Also, Daniel Cunningham, a Free Energy Party member who often enters high profile races on Hawaii Island…

And “Baker Tom” … Rand Walls, the owner of the well known malasada shop in Papaikou…

All six candidates took a stab at answering the question, even though it would admittedly a bit outside their official purview.

The day also featured candidates for state senate, state house, and county council districts four and five. We will have more detailed stories on these races in the days to come.