Matthew LoPresti, Ph.D.
Matthew LoPresti is running for the nonpartisan Honolulu City Council District 1 seat that was recently vacated by Todd Apo. The leeward Oahu district includes Ewa, Ewa Beach, Honouliuli, West Loch, Kapolei, Kalaeloa (Barber's Point), Honokai Hale and Nanakai Gardens, Ko'Olina, Nanakuli, Wai'anae, Makaha, Keaau, and Makua. The mail-in special election ends on December 29.
Matthew is an assistant professor of philosophy and humanities at Hawaii Pacific University. This is his first time to run for public office.
by Matthew S. LoPresti, Ph.D.
Here are some of the challenging issues I talk about today, and will continue to submit blogs on throughout the election:
- Public Health
- Public Safety
- Quality of Life and the long-standing neglect of Western O’ahu communities
- Waste Management
An honest and intelligent assessment of these issues will show that they are all inter-related. Honolulu, and especially District 1, deserves an open dialogue about these issues with candidates and I welcome it. We cannot tackle one without also addressing the others and I will be giving my perspectives on more specific aspects of these categories over the next few days.
To give you a hint of where I will be going with these issues, sub-topics include:
- Creating jobs in our district, rather than outside of it.
- The need for rail transit as well as the need for competent oversight.
- Create Green jobs in power and agriculture.
- Sustain and carefully grow our economies in power, agriculture, service, and industry in a way that is sustainable for the environment, and healthful to the people.
- Support the growth of tourism in district 1 while also ensuring that such growth serves the community and not just big business.
- How all of the above will reduce traffic, improve the quality of life, and lead to a more sustainable island life-style while reducing the strain on the environment.
- The land fill and garbage problem on O’ahu
- Have a public debate about the reduction and eventual elimination of certain types of waste (phasing out or reducing plastic grocery bags and offer businesses and consumers incentives to reduce reliance on single-use items)
- How the above will reduce strain on O’ahu’s waste management system and will represent an overall reduction of costs to tax payers in both the short and long-term.
- Ensuring development is balanced with an eye towards preserving agriculture, cultural sites, and wildlife.
- Offer incentives similar to those offered for solar-powered hot water heaters for water catchments. Certain parts of our community, if provided with the right incentives, could collect most, if not all of the water they need with the right system. The costs and convenience of such systems has dramatically decreased. Investing a little bit on the front end of this will save the city millions of dollars in the short and long term by reducing the cost to provide water and sewage treatment if we do what is practical and rely on the abundant rain in certain parts of our island community rather than collecting and pumping every ounce of water that people use.
- Calling attention to the fact that much of the West O’ahu population lives in what are known as “food desserts” where access to fresh and healthy foods is limited and often far away. (For example, there are many fast-food eateries and liquor stores, but few places to buy fresh fruit and vegetables)
- Designate land throughout our communities as Community Gardens. The rest of the island communities have these, but this is just another instance of the neglect West O’ahu has had to cope with over the years.
- Partnering with non-profits and private business to address increasing rates of childhood obesity and diabetes in our community (for example, if restaurants are going to entice children to eat certain foods, like with toys, then they ought to meet some basic nutritional guidelines).
- Ensure that police and fire protection matches our growth.
- Home invasions are on the rise, and yet Hawaii laws require citizens in their own homes to retreat rather than protect themselves, their families, or their property. While it is often wise to retreat to protect the safety of yourself or your family, it is quite frankly absurd and impractical to send people to over-crowded jails for the “crime” of defending themselves in their own homes should they choose to do so. The city should partner with state lawmakers to ensure that citizens have the right to defend themselves as well as their families and property, while in their home.
- Drag racing is an increasing and deadly phenomenon. There is much talk about the “need” for a racetrack. I am unconvinced that that taxpayers should pay to help train more and more dangerous drivers on our roads. If such a proposal for a race-track arises as councilmember I will work to
- Require an objective study that proves that such a track would reduce the safety risks and hazards posed to our community.
- Require funding to include increased traffic enforcement to and from such a track to be paid by those using the track.
- Higher criminal penalties for those who treat our highways, roads, and residential areas like a racetrack.
The people of this city are not cones to be dodged and weaved in and out of through traffic. We are commuters, grandparents, families with children, Aunties and Uncles who are also in vehicles hurtling along at 60 mph and sometimes we make unpredictable moves or lane changes. The claim that a race-track will make our roads safer has little to no basis in reality or common sense. Encouraging racing on our small island community is a dangerous idea, and we should proceed with caution.
Quality of Life
- For too long West O’ahu communities have been neglected by government. I would work to ensure that we receive an equal share of the taxes we pay to invest in our communities.
- Ensuring buffer zones between residential, commercial and industrial areas. As a growing community, greater attention to community planning is an opportunity to make West O’ahu an attractive place to live, shop, work, and play.
- Increase access to healthy food in our communities and address head-on the issue of food desserts in West O’ahu. An additional strategy for dealing with this involves bringing Community Gardens to West O’ahu. These garden programs exist in the rest of the island, but West O’ahu has been neglected.
- Reduce traffic and expand public transportation options. Rail is central to this, but it also means ensuring that The Bus routes keeps pace with growth in our communities. There are numerous communities in West O’ahu that have been built years ago that still do not have access to the The Bus.
- Ensure that the new City office of housing partners with State, private, and non-profit entities to find and fight the causes of homelessness.
- Governor-Elect Neil Abercromie has recently proposed allowing NGO’s to handle some of the case loads for homeless veterans. This approach could be effective, but should be focused on assisting homeless of all types by both NGO and faith-based outreach programs and ministries. However, any sharing of case loads ought to require proper training of staff and oversight by professional social workers as well as a possible licensing program to ensure that NGO and faith-based organizations can effectively coordinate their efforts with the guidance and leadership of trained professionals in the state and newly formed city housing offices.
- Kicking people out of park after park in the rest of the island has lead to a steady increase of the homeless population to migrate to West O’ahu. This has to stop. Our community bears the brunt of these failed policies. Even if the intent was to make the Waikiki look nicer for tourism, this does not make sense since we are trying to dramtically increase the tourist industry in West O’ahu as well. Real solutions are needed as well as an open and honest debate.
- Taking extreme positions like calling homeless children or people who lost their homes because of furloughs human trash that need to be “cleaned up” like so much “litter”, as my opponent Bob McDermott openly does is as horrible a public policy as it is a moral policy. Our communities deserves honest and intelligent debate and solutions, attacking the homeless the way McDermott does will not make the problem just go away.
- This brings us back to the top again, regarding both economic and environmental issues.
- We need to reduce and work to eliminate certain forms of waste.
Have a public debate about the reduction and eventual elimination of certain types of waste (phasing or reducing plastic grocery bags and offer businesses and consumers incentives to reduce reliance on single-use items)
How the above will reduce strain on O’ahu’s waste management system and will represent an overall reduction of costs to tax payers in both the short and long-term.
- Encourage composting of green waste
- Expand recycling (most types of plastics are not recyclable in our given program)
- We need fresh ideas for dealing with this and many of the other challenges we face. Just burying our garbage or shipping it off to someplace else is neither sustainable, nor is it cost-effective. By investing a little bit more in reducing waste, taxpayers and businesses can save millions more as a result of the reduction of waste.
I genuinely welcome your feedback, ideas, questions, and even concerns regarding what I have written about here. Please send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. LoPresti's campaign website
More information on the District 1 Special Election