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CANDIDATE PROFILE - HawaiʻI County Mayor

Ted Shaneyfelt

Residence: Pāpaʻikou


Dr. Ted Shaneyfelt (Toku San), caring engineer with a zero dollar campaign sacrificed $1,000,000 in salary to move here from Honolulu. Beginning in 2000 he taught at UHH to provide the skills needed for clean technology that we need. When COVID struck, he joined a student's company as CTO to successfully pursue their first big contract, state science fair vitalization, and seeks others to succeed.

Dr. Ted drives an electric vehicle powered by solar from his rooftop. Over the years he planted over 100 foods-bearing plants, sharing also with students.

Helping during the eruption, he saw needless loss. Growing up in Leilani, his dad had told him of Kapoho town's evacuation of 1960. People evacuated even windows and roofing, and took photos for insurance. Many came out better than before. But 2018 was handled differently. People denied their possessions suffered heavy losses. 4th Amendment ignored, government became the problem. 

First do no harm. Windmills others push kill birds. 


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

I will remember my oath of office. That is the primary job of every elected official, not just a formality. That means I understand my responsibility to keep you secure in your possessions. If your house is threatened by lava, you will be advised of dangers, but not prevented from assessing the risk yourself. No longer will people be prevented for weeks from evacuating their belongings or to save their livestock from burning to death. 

I also have the engineering background and process improvement training to see how the county operates and make things more efficient. I've worked in both government and non-government environments to understand both sides and help improve the effectiveness and proper focus of our county. 

I have the attitude that our our government should first do no harm. Being counterproductive is worse than doing nothing. Many who have gone through the building permit process understand that.

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

My professional focus in recent years has been on building up our students of UH Hilo to see their accomplishments. UH Hilo's Computer Science and Engineering department produces some of the best programmers you can find, including those who won first place in national competitions against students of the top schools in the nation. While many have gone to the mainland with the intention of returning some day, others have remained on this island. This year I helped one of my students who started a company of his own, to get through the first big contract scored. Through that, the state science fair went virtual in response to the virus threat. I am also noted for often running a seminar class bringing in corporate leaders from around the world to talk with them as a class, such as the chairman of a publicly owned Chinese company, or a CTO and VP of Intel corporation in California, as well as local leaders in diverse areas including energy, astronomy, and software development. 

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

1. Review our policies for adherence to the Constitution, as my primary duty is to fulfill the oath of office to protect that Constitution and through it to protect the rights of our people. This includes our approach to people's constitutional rights to secure their possessions under threat of lava.

2. Review the operations of the county for inefficiencies and counterproductive procedures. We need to especially optimize our resources in the upcoming times of lean economics.My engineering background, process improvement and management training from Hughes, and advice and frugality from my father who grew up during the great depression give me an advantageous perspective from which to accomplish this.

3. Put into place a mechanism for county workers who wish to pursue higher education while being confident of being offered their job back upon returning. This will accomplish the benefits of furlough but on a voluntary basis in a way that benefits both the employees and the county.

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?

Permits are a big problem. Should they even be required for primary residences in sparse rural areas?

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

Principles of aloha ʻāina are the everyone's responsibility and my way of life, not just talk. I will continue to lead as an example. I have been planting fruit trees for the last couple of decades, and since COVID, my family has been increasing our focus on home gardening. Today we get about half our food from our own yard. We need to recognize and promote this kind of sustainable lifestyle among our people. Besides each of us producing our own food to the extent that we can, we should also do what we can to help our farmers to raise crops for everyone. 

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?

Importing fossil fuels to burn and pollute our environment is not the best solution to our island's needs. Let's reduce energy usage where it makes sense while tapping the best sustainable energy sources.

I drive an electric car powered by my own rooftop solar electric. How can others talk without pursuing such measures themselves?  

Helco's burdensome requirements and limitations for contributing residential rooftop solar need to be addressed and changed for the better. How can they suggest building solar farms without first fully accepting residential rooftop? The policy is bad. Change it.

Wind power seems good at first, but it kills birds, its non-recyclable parts end up in huge landfills or scattered across the land. Phase it out. 

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?

We need to be decisive. We paid the heavy price to rid our island of the virus, and almost immediately reopened it, wasting much effort. If our economy was to be sacrificed to make us the premiere place to be free of the virus and we had so many empty hotels, we could have made the best of that new normal by becoming a worldwide center for people who are elderly and at risk of catching the disease. They could have come here to reside permanently in those hotels from all around the world after sufficient quarantine measures to keep us completely free. But now we ruined our economy and did not utilize the unique advantage that it gave us, which is now gone. So we need to have longer plans before starting out on something costly that we will abandon. 

I spent much time teaching students Computer Science, which is one of the clean yet profitable industries that is suitable for our island. Do that. No physical goods need to be shipped, so we can do it without the penalty of the Jones Act. 

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?

Nuclear should be left off the table because we have plenty of better alternatives, and nuclear accidents are not only a threat to the health of the living, but also to generations to come affected by corrupted DNA. 

Wind energy sounds good at first, but at grid scale, there are unintended consequences that we should understand and eliminate. It is a threat to our flying wildlife, as they are notorious for killing birds. Also upon decommissioning from their short life, land is stripped and the blades are often buried in large landfills. How could we justify that as we are running out of space in our existing landfills?

Solar is great for rooftops. We need it to be profitable for people with rooftop solar to feed into the grid instead of it going to waste. Let's not build solar farms when we can do that instead.

Geothermal has the capability to provide all our energy needs. I grew up in Leilani Estates before many who complain also moved there near it. It was not a problem for us.

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?

I am willing to consider first the current members of Harry Kim's cabinet, as, other than neglecting the oath of office during the eruption, I have much respect for how he has been running the island. Beyond that, I am also willing to consider some of my political opponents to join to use their experience on our team, and promote those who have good reputations for effectively managing with a history of reducing waste and cutting unnecessary bureaucracy. 

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?

I will first fulfill my obligation to protect protect, defend, and preserve the constitution for the generations to come according to the oath of office. Anytime this oath is compromised, our first responsibility as citizens is to correct it. That way future generations can know the freedoms that we knew from the time we were all keikis.  

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