2018 General Election Candidates

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VILLEGAS, Rebecca (Shute)
Name on ballot:

VILLEGAS, Rebecca (Shute)

Running for:

Hawaii Island County Council

District (if applicable):


Political party:

Does not apply/Nonpartisan race

Campaign website:


Current occupation:

Marketing and Event Planner



Previous job history:

AmeriCorps, National & Community Service
Catholic Charities, Counselor at Home for Teenage Foster Girls
Kona Brewers Festival, Planning Team
Kona Brewing Company, Hawaii Marketing Manager
Bamboo Shute Creations, Owner

Previous elected office, if any:


What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

Born and raised on the Big Island, I am a graduate of Konawaena
High School. I hold a Bachelors in Business Management from
the University of Hawaii at Manoa and certificate of completion
from Ulumau, A Hawaii Island Leadership Series.
I have a long history of working for and with Hawaii’s non-profit
and for profit organizations, including Surfrider, Sustainable
Coastlines, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Donkey Mill Art Center, the
Kona Brewers Festival, Lavaman Triathlon, Ironman Triathlon,
and the Lanihau Shopping Center, just to name a few.
During my 14 years with the Kona Brewing Company, I
championed their Sustainability Program, Event Sponsorships
and Community Partnership Programs. As President of the
Kohanaiki Ohana, I worked with a team of community advocates,
as well as government and the developer, to create Kohanaiki
Beach Park.
I am a firm believer in and seek to emulate the qualities of a
Servant Leader. Servant Leaders involve others in decision
making, are based in ethical and caring behavior, enhance the
growth of workers and improve the quality of an organization.
As a life long resident of the County of Hawaii, I have seen the
County Council evolve to a more productive, collaborative and
effective group of community leaders. I would like to be a part of
that continued transformation and perpetuate its focus on
solutions aligned with constituent concerns. Born and raised on
the Big Island, I have the values, vision and vested interest in the
future of Hawai‘i Island. With a track record of integrity,
stewardship, and listening for common goals, I seek to involve
others in the solution finding and decision making processes.
Through years of advocating for the ethical and genuine care of
our island home, I have diplomatically collaborated with our local
business, political, and community leaders. Our County is faced
with a variety of issues ranging from homelessness, infrastructure
improvements to social and environmental justice. As a
balanced, credible and proven public servant, I believe I am
prepared for the honor and challenge of holding public office.

What are the top three challenges facing the voters you seek to represent?

After lengthily talks with constituents of District 7, including
business owners, residents, and visitors alike, homelessness and
affordable housing is a predominant topic of concern. From pan
handling, to property destruction, to the piles of rubbish in parks
and on vacant property, the effects of homelessness are vast and
far reaching. District 7 is concerned about the rapid growth,
diversification and expansion of the homeless population coupled
with a lack of affordable housing. I will work to understand the
complete scope of the County's current plans to build a temporary
housing facility, Village 9, by the Civic Center. Vetting vagrants
from those without a home will be a big part of the process.
Providing on site services for the mentally ill will also be
imperative. With the current displacement of families on the East
Side by volcanic activity, we are faced with yet another
demographic of homelessness. Groups like the Salvation Army,
Catholic Charities, The Institute for Human Services, The
Neighborhood Place of Kona and the Hawaii Food Basket have
been working with homeless populations for decades. I would
work closely with organizations like these to identify templates
and paradigms that have been implemented and are working in
other communities. Allocating County funds to find collaborative
solutions and build affordable housing is a top priority.
Hawaii’s Biosecurity is another challenge facing the constituents
in District 7. For decades Hawaii has been inundated with
invasive species that jeopardize the economic, environmental and
health of the islands. Some of the most well known invasive
species include little fire ants, coqui frogs, and the coconut
rhinoceros beetle. Only 3% of the containers shipped to Hawaii
are checked for invasive species. It’s going to take an all
inclusive planning process to implement an interagency
Biosecurity Plan. I was support the Hawaii Interagency
Biosecurity Plan 2017-1027. This coordinated path forward to
increasing support for local agricultural, protection for our
environment, and safeguards for the health and lifestyle of
Hawaii’s people is a pivotal piece to ensuring Hawaii’s Biosecurity
for future generations.
I have attended educational forums hosted by Hawai’I Unite
Against Invasives, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and
the Hawaii Ant Lab. I have shared what I learned with my family,
friends and broader community, tested the plants on my property,
and written testimony to the Hawai’I State Legislature
encouraging them to pass the Hawaii Invasive Species Authority
Bill, the Biosecurity Emergency Response Special Fund, Funding
for Hawaii Ant Lab staff in West Hawaii, and Funding for Little Fire
Ant outreach in West Hawaii. If elected for County Council
District 7, I would work with fellow Council members and continue
allocating resources to fund measures to manage the risk of
invasive species to the economy, environment, and health of our
The Big Island is experiencing an unprecendented number of
challenges caused by the current volcanic activity in Puna.
Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, roads torn pieces,
earthquakes, ash fall out, and toxic gasses are just a few of the
issues the County of Hawaii, State of Hawaii and FEMA are
striving to find solutions to. Repercussions range from County
Budget shortfalls due to loss of property taxes, increased
homeless populations due to loss of affordable housing, and
decrease in visitor rates because of misinformation and loss of
access to Hawaii Volcano National Park. Regardless of all of
these challenges, the residents of Hawaii Island have stood
strong in support of those directly effected by the volcano. The
outpouring of donations, fund raisers, volunteers and community
partnerships are a testament to the resilience and strength of our
island residents. Together we will come through this and be
stronger for our experiences, for our sharing and for our caring for
one another. He ike ana ia i ka pono. To see the right thing to do
and it.

If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?

My highest priority would be introducing legislation related to
Water Conservation efforts and technologies. I'd like to make it
easier and more accessible for home owners to install and utilize
gray water systems and low flow showers, faucets and toilets.
The State of Hawaii passed Act 125 in the 2017 legislative
session requiring the replacement of all cesspools by 2050.
Unfortunately, due to the unique geology of the Big Island,
transitioning all cesspools to septic systems may not be
logistically possible and imposes a huge cost burden on home
owners. Identifying and incentivizing the implementation of new
technologies that utilize water more effectively and efficiently
would reduce the amount of water flowing through cesspools and
decrease chances of ground water and ocean contamination.

If elected, what can you do to improve the lives of your constituents?

If elected to represent District 7 on the Hawaii County Council, I
will benefit my constituents by involving them in decision making,
exemplifying ethical and caring behavior, enhancing the growth of
those working around me and improving the quality of the County
as an organization. I will Listen with Empathy and Awareness,
work within the Council to build consensus vs taking control and
balance conceptual thinking with day to day operations. I will
utilize Foresight by working to understand lessons from the past,
realities of the present and likely consequences of a decision in
the future. I will embrace the responsibility of stewardship and
serve the needs of others first.
I will exemplify a commitment to the growth of people by taking a
personal interest in ideas and suggestions from everyone and
identify means for building community among those working
within an institution. I celebrate the strength in our diversity and
recognize our accountability through our connectedness.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?


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