Creagan announces Senate bid

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KAILUA-KONA — Rep. Richard Creagan, who has represented South Kona and Ka‘u for the past four years, announced Wednesday his candidacy for the state Senate, recommitting in his announcement to an earlier goal of getting a new hospital and teaching institution for West Hawaii.

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KAILUA-KONA — Rep. Richard Creagan, who has represented South Kona and Ka‘u for the past four years, announced Wednesday his candidacy for the state Senate, recommitting in his announcement to an earlier goal of getting a new hospital and teaching institution for West Hawaii.

The announcement comes about three weeks after Sen. Josh Green, who currently represents Senate District 3, which includes an area from Holualoa to Naalehu, announced his bid for lieutenant governor at the beginning of this month.

“When Senator Green officially announced he was running for lieutenant governor, I realized that I had a duty to my constituents to seek that office,” Creagan said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “The Senate allows a much freer voice for its members and the possibility of being a stronger advocate for you, my constituents.”

An individual representative in the House, he said, “has little voice or role,” given the margin of Oahu legislators to those from the neighbor islands, calling the recent vote to hike the transient accommodations tax statewide for Honolulu’s rail transit project “especially grating.”

As part of his announcement, Creagan reaffirmed his vision for a new medical center in the region.

Creagan, who previously served as an emergency room physician and vice chief of staff at Kona Hospital, proposed putting such a facility on or next to the Palamanui Community College campus, given its central location and proximity to air transport.

That new hospital would also be a teaching institution to train physicians in specialties of family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry. It would also, he said, provide training for nurses and others seeking a career in health care and could provide “extensive facilities” for telemedicine, while also providing comprehensive cardiac care, trauma care and addiction and psychiatric care with a unit for adolescents.

He also suggested that the new facility would be a “co-hub” with hospitals in Hilo and Waimea for a “more comprehensive and cohesive island medical system as we transition out of a state-run system.”

The Legislature last year appropriated $500,000 for a feasibility study.

Another issue the representative identified is agriculture, having lived on a farm in Ka‘u for more than 25 years.

He noted his support for Gov. David Ige’s goal of doubling food production and identified a need to give aspiring farmers training and resources while also working to prevent, control and potentially eradicate invasive species.

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Creagan also called for a living wage, calling it “the foundation for improved housing opportunities;” a diversified economy, such as expanded biotechnology opportunities and expanded public pre-school programs.

Creagan isn’t the first candidate to announce his bid for the senate seat. Hawaii County councilman Dru Kanuha announced his candidacy for the seat at the beginning of September.

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