MARZO, Ikaika

1 Can you describe your connections to the Native Hawaiian community on your island, and how you would address issues that may have a particular impact or be of particular concern to Native Hawaiians? Would you consult with or seek advice from OHA on such matters?
2 If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that economic dependence on tourism is fragile and that greater economic diversification is necessary. What are your views on creating a more diversified, sustainable economy for Hawaiʻi and what specific industries do you think would most benefit Hawaiʻi and its people?
3 What role, if any, can the county play in resolving issues regarding the management and use of Maunakea?

Photo: Ikaika Marzo

AGE: 36
OCCUPATION: Cultural and Ecotour Company Owner, Community Organizer, Rancher, Commercial Fisherman, Musician
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Kalapana, Makuʻu, Pāhoa Hawaiʻi
SCHOOL(S) ATTENDED: Pāhoa High School

  1. ʻOhana, music, sustainable fishing and ranching, and ocean conservation connect me to my culture and our Native Hawaiian community everyday. My ancestor’s bones are buried here, my naʻau and heart are deeply rooted in this ʻāina. I speak the language in song and fishing. I’ll seek advice from OHA to bridge community with government and I’ll refer to our kūpuna within every district. Every policy decision I make must take into consideration our people and lives, environment and economy.
  2. We’ve seen that relying on any single industry causes problems, whether it’s tourism or sugar cane. Hawaiʻi County unemployment peaked in April 2020 with 23% of our population out of work. A sustainable economy on Hawaiʻi Island means our local residents and community can thrive- always, constantly- and “sustain” despite any storm that hits our ship. With 30% (27,540 people) of our workforce in tourism, we still need tourism the way our economy is built today, but we must be smarter about it by realizing that this island is our greatest asset and needs utmost maintenance and protection, like any asset. By imposing higher Tourism Green Fees to support land and cultural conservation, we can generate new revenue to help our local people.
    Hawaiʻi and our people are resilient: we come out on the other side of disaster every time so with this pandemic, we start today by promoting “year-round outdoor commerce” and “improving all indoors.” To create a thriving outdoor commerce, we close down select streets and move any business that we can outside to pedestrian-only zones. We look at zoning and permitting to help the local resident and business, rather than hurt. We take care of our kūpuna by expanding health and human services, particularly senior care and living. We must “improve all indoors” by making homes, businesses and care living facilities safer from the virus by increasing ventilation and filtration indoors. We can increase ventilation and filtration indoors affordably. We improve testing and monitoring of the virus, such as implementing sewage pool testing which will allow us to detect an outbreak in a certain area up to one week earlier! Proactive leadership over reactive leadership is the only way to lead through disaster, and I hope to lead us through to the other side of this one, too.
    Expanding our agriculture helps our whole state, and our local economy: food farms, fishing, new aquaculture operations (a proven profitable industry), investing in non-food agriculture crops like hemp and bamboo that could start new, local, profitable industries making biodegradable plastics, textiles and construction materials. Government needs to support agriculture by making better deals for our local farmers, providing work opportunities near communities and homes, and removing needless red tape so this industry and local people may quickly succeed.
    Development should take steps to help our people and environment such as investing to reach energy sustainability by 2045, checking the Aloha+ Challenge goals off the list and creating green jobs that our people will enjoy. Our people need work and the ability to afford food security, heath security, educational security and housing security.
  3. Communication with the state, advocating for our county people, is the biggest role a county leader can hold regarding Mauna Kea. I’ll expand and improve the county-to-community communication hubs by upgrading our technology to better connect with each district’s kūpuna councils, Community Board and local people to prove to our state what our local people truly want and need. We must support our schools, educators, parents, caregivers and keiki and listen to our own living community to progress while remaining rooted in ancient values of our state’s Indigenous culture.

View more of this candidate’s manaʻo from the Ka Wai Ola News 2020 Primary Election Survey