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CANDIDATE PROFILE - HawaiʻI County Mayor

Kelly Greenwell

Residence: Kona


Born in Kona Jan. 04, 1941. Owner and operator of Hawaiian Gardens, tree and ornamental nursery, licensed landscape contractor.

Past member of Hawaii County Council and associated with the following organizations:

Kona Young Farmers

Kona Outdoor Circle, past President

Hawaii Nurseryman's Association, past Director

Na Kokua Kaloko-Honokohau National Park, past President

Kealakehe 2020, co-founder & past President

Kauikeaouli Canoe Club (Keauhou), founding member & past President

Kona Soil and Water Conservation District, past Chair

Resource Conservation / and Development, past Chair

Kealakehe Community Association, past President

Kailua Village Design Committee, past President

Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce, member

Hawaii Farm Bureau, member

Advisory committee, HELCO Keahole

Keahole Agricultural Park, petitioner

Don’t play golf.

Why do you think you are the right candidate for mayor of Hawaiʻi County? 

I think someone my age would have a hard time convincing anyone why they should be mayor of this county. As a candidate, however, I would say that those of us that have been around as long as I have, seen as much as I have, and been a part of as much as I have owe it to the community to participate in the process of choosing who does become mayor.

Please tell us about your biggest personal or professional accomplishments in the past five years.

I think my most significant contribution has been to drive home the realization that if the idea is valid virtually unlimited federal and private sector financing/investment is waiting.

What will be your top three priorities in your first 100 days as mayor? 

Mayor or otherwise, my priorities will be to:

1) Remind the powers that Hawaii County's share of the Federal Farm Bill ( $900 billion) is between $2-3 billion.

2) Put together $2-3 billion worth of federal aid/infrastructure projects (wastewater, sewage, trash, highways, healthcare, housing, education, etc).  

3) Get someone to Washington to lobby for us and someone to market these projects to those arriving here in their private jets.

Some say "development" has a negative connotation in Hawaiʻi. Others say it is an important element in our community's future. Where do you stand?

Development, over time, is inevitable - if we plan for it it will be worthy of this place. If we don't, it will not be worthy of this place.

As mayor, what would you do to implement the principles of the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration?

What creates sustainability is constant reverence to that which defines us. It is not enough, however, to think only of the well being of ourselves. The Aloha Spirit needs to be broadcast around the planet if any of us are going to survive. That is the mission and that is why I am a candidate.

Which areas of the Aloha+ Challenge will you focus on as mayor, and what plans do you have to help achieve these sustainability goals on Hawaiʻi Island?

In the area of tropical agriculture, tropical disease, ocean technology, exploration and the arts, this island has the resources for innovative and creative leadership. When we do these things, we help both ourselves and the world. That is the mission we must adopt.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the County has gotten involved in addressing food, housing, medical care, and other social welfare needs. How should the County pivot to focus on economic recovery and growth?

See above. With what I believe to be the only path to survival, the national elections will usher in an opportunity to regain civility and the economics that go with it. 'The big picture' thinking will inspire federal investment in the people and we will need to develop a mindset that allows us to seek and apply that investment. (Marshall Plan).

How important is the growth of clean, renewable energy for Hawaiʻi Island? Which technologies should we embrace, and should any be left off the table?

We are not ready to concentrate on renewable energy until our other needs are addressed. Fossil fuel will get less expensive as new technologies evolve but let's leave that up to others to develop. I might mention however, that there is probably already enough residential/commercial rooftop area to collect enough solar power to meet the needs of the county - and it is already hooked up. Perhaps some of you will recall my advocacy of harvesting the invasive Gorse plant on Mauna Kea for conversion to fuel for the U.S. Navy - still doable.

What factors or considerations will you take in hiring your cabinet, and who are some of the people you are considering or the strategy you will use to build your team?

Teammate, expertise, background, are of course a place to start but I look for ability to think creatively, argue effectively, and honor the truth. I have two places I would start looking: would any of the candidates for mayor, who have already demonstrated a desire to serve, be interested? And who in the present administration want to remain? 

As Mayor, you will make decisions that affect this island and the children who will inherit it for generations to come. What is your commitment to them?

My commitment to the future generation is that we will preserve the artifacts of who we are, yet recognize that as the foundation and not the structure. That we not close the culture to what we have been but open it to a continued flow of new ideas, their ideas. The Hawaiian culture remains the basis for who we are and who we become, as it is an inclusive and accepting process. That is what makes it unique and, in fact, the only avenue leading to the survival of this planet. It is, again, our mission to save ourselves, but to do it in a way that saves us all.

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