HILO — Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter said Monday she plans to move to Roanoke, Virginia, with her family, but she will finish her council term first.
Poindexter is term-limited and her final two-year term ends next December. She said she had planned to find a job locally for a while after that, although her family is discussing a move to the mainland to be closer to her eldest daughter.
“I would never abandon my constituents I took an oath of office to represent,” Poindexter said Monday.
A very public tiff Sunday on Facebook between Poindexter and Kohala Councilman Tim Richards’ wife, Terri Impson-Richards, disclosed Poindexter’s planned move, which Poindexter said had been a confidential matter she’d shared with Richards, whose district abuts hers, and a few other close council members. She said she hadn’t even told some family members yet. She said Richards should have used his “professional judgment,” before telling his wife, who’s known to be outspoken.
“That public statement wasn’t hers to be made,” she said.
“It may force us to leave after my term,” Poindexter added, because she may have trouble finding a job if it’s known she plans to leave.
Impson-Richards said on Facebook she heard the news from one of Poindexter’s constituents, not from her own husband. Richards could not be reached on his council email or phones by press-time Monday.
Poindexter, 60, was born in Honokaa and her son is buried there, making her decision to leave more difficult. The family is planning to move so her younger daughter, a special needs child, will be closer to family if something happens to Poindexter.
“I’m not getting any younger,” Poindexter said.
At issue was a series of comments under a Hawaii Tribune-Herald link posted to Facebook about a group interested in reopening the Ookala dairy. Poindexter had worked to force the closure of the previous dairy operation after manure-contaminated stormwater was discharged into state waters.
“Valerie Poindexter is moving to Virginia. She wants to kill any opportunities for Hawaiians to be self-reliant and food secure while she runs to the mainland. Her firm support of herbicide bans, anti TMT and anti Agriculture proves this. She is farmers and ranchers and hunters worst enemy,” Impson-Richards posted Sunday. “They would rather have gated communities up and down the Hamakua coast than small farmers actually making a living.”
Poindexter repeated Impson-Richards’ comment on Poindexter’s own Facebook page.
“She has characterized me as being an enemy to the farmers and ranchers,” she said.
Poindexter’s post on her own page resulted in almost 100 comments in support of the councilwoman. Among them were Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder and state Sen. Russell Ruderman, D-Puna.
“Stay strong Val,” Ruderman posted. “You are on the right side of history in this, and nothing said here is true.”
Clarification: Kohala Councilman Tim Richards did not breach Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter’s confidence about her plans to move to Virginia, as reported Tuesday. Richards, who couldn’t be reached for comment in time for the article about the public social media dust-up between Poindexter and Richards’ wife, said Tuesday he had not told his wife about Poindexter’s plans, but his wife got the information from another source.