elect Shannon Matson
Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope is one of the primary issues influencing the choices voters will make in the 2020 election, which is why so many have asked me to state my position regarding it. As with all issues important to those living in District 3, my first responsibility is to listen to all stakeholders and give equal consideration to their needs. Although a state house representative would not normally cast a vote on this issue, in the rare instance that such an opportunity arose, I would be obligated to represent my constituents. For me, this means voting in ways that benefit the majority of people living in my district and in ways that protect the environment— a constituent unable to speak for itself.
As a former frequent volunteer at the Visitor Information Station on Mauna Kea I have utmost admiration and respect for Hawaii’s astronomy community. Spending time eating dinner at Hale Pōhaku and learning from world-renown astronomers was one of my fondest memories of my time in UHH. When I was a child my father worked on building the mirrors of the Keck Observatory. I have the utmost appreciation and respect for construction workers who have helped to build the telescopes. As someone born and raised here, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the ways Hawaiian cultural values have shaped me as a person and I understand the frustration at the years of mismanagement of this culturally significant and environmentally precious site. But regardless of how I or anyone feels about astronomy or Hawaiian values, the standoff on Mauna Kea showed that, throughout the permitting process, the TMT project developers failed to accurately assess the impact their project would have on Hawaiian culture. Moving forward, the full extent of this impact must be taken into consideration as the stakeholders seek a resolution.
Again, I will approach this issue as I will with any policy decisions I make which is to truly listen to all members of the community and work to create positive change that will benefit the majority of our community and protect our environment for future generations.