Editor’s Note: In June 2012, Civil Beat sent 10 questions to each of the candidates registered to run for Honolulu City Council District 7. All three responded, including vice speaker of the Hawaii House Joey Manahan. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full, and will serve as a resource both to voters deciding for whom to vote at the Aug. 11 primary but also to constituents so they can hold Manahan to his words should he be elected. To see how Manahan’s responses compare to those from his main competitor, click here. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Manahan’s response.

Preferred Candidate Name: Joey Manahan

Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY): 1/31/1971

Place of Birth/Hometown: Manila, Philippines

Current Profession/Employer: State Representative for the 29th House District (Kalihi-Kai, Kapalama, Mokauea, and Sand Island)

Education/Alma Mater(s): High school diploma from Bellarmine College Preparatory San Jose, CA; BA Communications from the University of Hawaii at Manoa

1. Do you believe that Honolulu should proceed with the 20-mile elevated rail project from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Shopping Center? Why or why not?

Yes, but the people of Honolulu deserve nothing less than the project to be delivered on time and on budget. Rail must be completed within its current financial plan, which calls for the use of the half percent GET as its means of financing and full federal funding with a signed guarantee from the federal government. City services should not be compromised nor should taxes be raised for rail. ↩ back to top

2. Should the city continue to send municipal solid waste to Waimanalo Gulch Landfill until it reaches capacity, should it site a new landfill elsewhere as soon as possible, or should it pursue a different path? Why?

The Mayor’s Committee studied this issue quite extensively, but it may also be wise for the City Council to review their recommendations from time to time as to examine all possibilities and options for short and long-term solutions. ↩ back to top

3. Has the sidewalk ban on stored property, in effect for six months, been a success? What should the city be doing to help Honolulu’s homeless population?

The ban on stored property has been successful in making our sidewalks once again accessible to the general public, but it has not solved the overall problem of homelessness. More needs to be done between the City, State, and their service providers to better coordinate their efforts and really address the issue systematically. ↩ back to top

4. Should the city consider eliminating property tax exemptions for homeowners, nonprofits and other special interest groups if it means lowering rates? What other steps should the council take to improve Honolulu Hale’s financial picture?

No. Too many residents depend on the homeowners’ exemption, especially our seniors who are on fixed incomes and those who live in areas that are zoned for mixed use. It has become increasingly difficult to own a home in Honolulu. The home exemption helps homeowners to manage their cost of living expenses by keeping them stable and affordable.

The homeowners’ exemption should be given to non-profits as well, since they provide important and essential services to the community.

As far as special interests, the question is not specific enough for me to answer. But I would say in general that we should not be giving tax exemptions to special interests, because that can open up a pandora’s box of exemptions. When crafting tax policies, I believe they should be as fair and evenly distributed as possible. ↩ back to top

5. Relations between the mayor and the City Council have been at times contentious. How would you work to improve those relations?

In my experience, I have found that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I would try to work as much as possible with the administration on issues we need to work through, so we can achieve the best results with most efficiency and least friction. There are times however, when there is strong disagreement between the council and the administration, wherein a firm approach is necessary. In such cases, one should always maintain diplomacy and a line of communication, because at the end of the day, the work needs to get done. ↩ back to top

6. Should the city wait until July 2015 for the recently approved plastic checkout bag ban to take effect, implement something sooner or go a different route? Why?

If you are going to do something, I believe that you should do it whole-heartedly. I think the delay in implementation leaves too much room for reconsideration. While there are merits to maintaining the use of plastic bags, namely cost considerations, the decision has already been made to ban them. ↩ back to top

7. Do the Oahu General Plan and regional planning documents as currently written need to be overhauled to protect agricultural resources and manage growth or are they sufficient as is? What other steps should the city take to control or promote development?

As a member of the legislature these last six years, I paid particular attention to the need for protecting agricultural resources, most notably in the passage of the bill to protect important agricultural lands. I was proud to be a part of that.

Moving forward, I think the council needs to be vigilant here, so that future growth falls within the guidelines laid out by the general plan and regional plan, as well as within the regulations at the state level (including our legislation protecting important agricultural lands).

If we see that development is unbalanced or detrimental to the needs of the whole community, then I think the council should step in and act by supplementing the rules and regulations already in place.

Looking ahead over the next four years, I believe we will see prices for homes escalating each year, and move much higher in the coming years. I would like the city to be proactive by encouraging the kind of development that will provide housing for local residents at an affordable price, and will do it in areas where there is the necessary infrastructure to support such growth is available, including sewage, roads, schools, and recreational facilities. ↩ back to top

8. What do you see as the largest long-term challenge facing the city — sewers, water, roads, traffic or something else? What immediate steps will you take to put Honolulu in a stronger position to deal with its largest long-term challenge?

Managing the City’s population growth and providing the same level of services with limited resources. Most immediately, I would improve the working relationship between the City and the State to better deal with the challenges ahead. ↩ back to top

9. What would you want to be remembered for as a member of the City Council?

Being an effective member of the Council who made a significant impact in improving the quality of life in his district and the City and County of Honolulu. ↩ back to top

10. If you could change one city decision of the last two years, what would it be and why?

Perhaps not in the last two years, but I do wish the City Council made the decision to go ahead with rail in the early 90’s. This would have made things less complicated for the City today, not to mention the majority of the project would have been funded by a federal match of 90-10 (federal to state). Today the project is being funded largely by the GET, which we could be using for other services or funding priorities. ↩ back to top