My name is Tante Urban. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I am Naturalized American citizen. I am married with four children and grandchildren. Kona, the Big Island has been my home for the last 50 years. I attended Hawaiʻi Community College and graduated in Hotel and Restaurant. I own and manage Tante’s Restaurant for over thirty years while providing jobs for our people. I invest in real estate providing affordable rentals to our people. I am a member of Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise, Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Filipino Organization of Kona. I have established my scholarship foundation through Tante & Araceli Urban Foundation. To date, our Foundation has donated over $50,000 to scholarships and school athletics. If elected, I will not receive my salary, I will donate my salary to a nonprofit organizations. I will form a board of nonprofit presidents within the 9 districts of the island, they will determine who to donate my salary to.
Why do you think you are the right candidate for mayor of Hawaiʻi County?
I am the right candidate for Mayor because I have been a businessman for so many years. From my humble beginning in the Philippines, I have been able to rise through adversities and has a proven record of my accomplishments. I have operated my restaurant for over 30 years, providing jobs to our people and it gave me the knowledge and experience in Budgeting-making sure I stay on budget, Staffing-making sure I hire the right person, not over staff and minimize overtime, Quality Control-making sure we provide the best product, Costumer Service-making sure we provide the best service to our customers, Leadership Skill-making sure “I Lead By Example”, and still make tough decisions on a daily basis-like balancing my budget.
I invest in real estate, providing construction jobs to our people and providing affordable rentals to our people.
Please tell us about your biggest personal or professional accomplishments in the past five years.
One of my biggest accomplishments in the past five years is the approval of my Building Permit and change of zoning from multi family to Commercial Mixed Use for the future home of Tante’s Restaurant and it’s coming back home to Kona. Construction has just started and hopefully it’ll be completed in 7-8 months. Along with the change of zoning and building approval, I am able to put together a “Affordable Housing Agreement” with County of Hawaiʻi designating the units as Affordable Rental which is badly needed in our community.
I am also proud to lease my three building apartment to a nonprofit organization to operate and manage a “Clean & Sober Living." This program is for folks who has gone off track and want to improve themselves to become better citizens in our community. These program can accommodate approximately 80 people, meaning 80 people off the streets.
What will be your top three priorities in your first 100 days as mayor?
My top three priorities are: 1. Efficient and Responsive Government. We will have an “Open Door Policy”. All inquiries and concerns will be responded to within forty eight hours. 2. Balance Budget. We will have an independent audit on all departments and find ways to reduce cost. We will implement Hiring Freeze and restructure manpower for efficiency. 3. Community First. We will invest in our infrastructure, roads, park, beach to improve our quality of life. To realize these projects, we will partner with the community, nonprofits, and the State to look for funding and Grants.
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?
I believe that progress and “development” goes hand in hand. Sustainable and controlled development is necessary to keep our people working, to create jobs that can offer decent living wages, to provide affordable housing for our people, to offer incentive for our people to stay home or come back home and not leave our island to look for other opportunities elsewhere.
As mayor, what would you do to implement the principles of the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration?
We have to take care of our beach, parks, infrastructures, roads to create jobs for our people. We have to open up more land for workforce housing which is badly needed in our community. We will create an “Entrepreneur Innovation Program” for start up businesses on Food, Agriculture, Arts & Crafts and more, all made in the Big Island products. We will create “Made in the Big Island Festival” to feature and showcase our local products.
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?
I have lived in Kona, the Big Island for over fifty years. I believe in taking care of our “ʻĀina” and continue our past generations way of living. I was taught by my father and father-in-law to always love our ocean such you fish for your consumption and catch only the fully bloom not the young and small ones. We will create sustainable and diversified Agriculture such as Hydroponic, Aquaculture, Fruits and Vegetables Livestock, Dairy farm. I support having a slaughterhouse for Packaging, Branding, Marketing and Promotion of local ranches and grass fed beef. I will advocate with large Agricultural landowners to lease smaller parcels of land for micro farming. We will partner with the community, nonprofits, State and Federal to seek funding and Grants to support these projects.
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 have to stimulate our economy. Tourism is still our number one economic driver, we have to put it in the forefront in marketing and promotion. We will also promote Sports Tourism for added revenue.
Streamline permitting to bring booming construction industry. We will cut property tax to give more spending money for our people and we will talk stories and advocate with commercial landlords to pass on the savings to tenants and fill vacant spaces.
Bring about sustainable diversified Agriculture. Support and Incentivize formation of small businesses as small businesses are the foundation of our economy.
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 have to take care of our environment for our next generations. I support Solar power as it has less negative impact on the environment. The proposed Solar farm in Waikoloa is a good model. I support Windmill as one of renewable energy sources as it has less impact on the environment. I also support “OTEC” again, less impact on the environment. I support looking at the possibility of changing our fleet to Hybrid and Electric vehicles.
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?
When hiring my cabinet position, it will be outside the box system-not the traditional way of choosing people within one political group. All cabinets positions will go through the application process with the Human Resources Department. H.R. will screen applicants and make recommendation to the Mayor’s office. I will interview each applicant and make determination on the best person qualified for the position. The determining factor will be Leadership skill, Integrity, Team Player, Transparency, Honesty. The team strategy is to build a team that is dedicated to serving our people with honesty, integrity, and transparency and has the passion for Customer Service, Quality of life, and be Fiscally Responsible.
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 and my contract with our children is to bring: 1. Efficient and Responsive Government. We will have an Open Door policy, all inquiries and concerns will be responded to within 48 hours. 2. Community First- We will make sure that our infrastructures, roads parks, beach are well kept and bring about a good quality of life. 3. Making sure our environment will be sustainable for the future generations, such Clean Renewable Energy Program, our Ocean and Reef-keep clean and pristine, Fishing-catch for own consumption and not catch the young and small ones, Wildlife-keep our natural resources pristine and untouched. 4. Continue and keep promoting our Hawaiian Culture our Hawaiian History such-Songs, Dances, these will be our legacy to our Keikis. 5. Growing our economy to provide jobs with decent paying wages and building affordable housing for our children.