The race to represent District 1 on the Honolulu City Council promises to be one of the most exciting this year.

There have already been two public forums, and the pool of five candidates angling for the seat is the largest of all the council races and larger even than the highly anticipated mayoral election.

Some of the faces you’ll know, and others might be new to you. To help you figure out who deserves your vote, today Civil Beat unveils our questionnaire — the same one we sent to candidates for all five City Council races this year. This article compares the responses from Tom Berg; E.J. Delacruz; Mel Kahele; Kymberly Pine and Alex Santiago. We’ll have similar packages each day this week.

The survey asked the candidates to explain their positions on 10 major issues facing the city, including rail, landfills and taxes. You can find links to the candidates’ full responses at the bottom of this article.

Rail

Berg has been a consistent anti-rail vote on the council — generally joined only by Ann Kobayashi. His answer to our question about rail hit on many of the points he’s raised during rail debates at Honolulu, and can be summed up by this paragraph:

As I have said publicly, this rail project will bleed us dry and tap into core services such as sewer, water, road, and park repairs. Rail will be noisy, a visual blight, run on fossil fuel and most importantly, not relieve traffic.

If Berg is replaced, rail opponents could well lose one of their strongest advocates. Kahele, Pine and Santiago all say they support rail.

Pine, a Republican, did not cite any of the project’s benefits in her response but instead said she’s a “constitutionalist” and would respect the will of the voters. Kahele talked about jobs and transit-oriented development. And Santiago offered the fullest-throated argument for rail, saying that he’d look to provide leadership on the project if elected because of its important to District 1.

Only Delacruz joins Berg in opposition, saying the project doesn’t deliver enough bang for the buck.

Landfill

Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill is located in District 1, and many constituents want it closed. So it’s not a surprise that the candidates are pushing for action on that front.

All the candidates brought up the importance of recycling to divert waste from the landfill and for waste-to-energy technology or other techniques to make landfills obsolete.

Homelessness

The candidates are split on whether the new sidewalk ban enacted in December has been a success. Civil Beat revealed recently that enforcement of the law has cost between $120,000 and $240,000 and that homeless people and Occupy Honolulu protestors have been heavily targeted.

Berg voted for Bill 54 and wrote that it is thus far “making an impact as intended but needs to have more follow through for those being cited.” Pine wrote that the law “has worked to ensure that all taxpayers are given the respect of using the sidewalks they pay for.”

Kahele said the law has not been a success and suggested other ways to deal with homelessness. Delacruz wrote, “I do not think it has been a success but has at least offered some form of alleviation to the problem, and that’s better than not doing anything. My main concern for the bill is that it merely ‘punishes’ the homeless for being where they are, and offers the homeless no incentives or alternatives to change their way of life.”

Santiago wrote: “I think it has been successful at displacing individuals, pandering to the loudest voices, and not actually addressing the real problem.”


Read the full candidate responses here:

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