Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Baybee Hufana-Ablan, a candidate for the Honolulu City Council District 8 seat. Other candidates include Brandon Elefante, Russell Grunch and Brysen Poulton.

District 8 includes Pearl City, Pearl Peninsula, Waimalu, Crestview, Waipio Gentry and portions of Waipahu.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Name:   Baybee Hufana-Ablan

Office: City Council District 8

Profession: Business and health care provider

Education: Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration ( Accounting, Marketing, Management, Banking and Finance ); Pharmacy Technician, CPhT

Age: 59

Community organizations: Board member, Pearl City Neighborhood Board #21 as board secretary and chair of the Community Relations and Publicity; United Filipino Council of Hawaii (UFCH) 2014 convention chair on membership and credentials for island councils delegates; Oahu Filipino Community Council first vice president; Philippine Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii; La Union Circle of Hawaii & Associates; Filipino Business Women’s Association; Filipino Women’s Civic Club; Hawaii Filipino Women’s Club; University of the East Alumni Association of America- Hawaii; La Union National High School Alumni-Hawaii president; Sirmata Medical Mission (Hawaii and Philippines)

Baybee Hufana-Ablan, City Council District 8 candidate, 2014

Baybee Hufana-Ablan

1. Why are you running for the Honolulu City Council

I care about my community. As former executive secretary of the Neighborhood Commission Office, I am aware of the issues in our community. As I’ve worked for the three mayors of the City and County of Honolulu, I have a good relationship with the City Council and the heads of different department of the city and county of Honolulu until now. With my experience in retail and hospital pharmacy for a total of 28 years, sales, marketing, and financing, medical equipment and medical supplies provider especially to elderly, a business owner, a public servant and active in the community for over 30 years, I feel that I am the best candidate for the City Council seat. I want to execute a vision of leadership, visibility, and creating a partnership with elected officials, the community and labor unions. As a City Council member, if God’s willing, I will plan to maximize my experience and talents to get the job done. 

I will help move Honolulu forward.

2. A recent survey found that homelessness has increased by 30 percent on Oahu in the past five years. How would you tackle the problem?

Addressing the issue of homelessness requires a multi-pronged approach:

We must work with the state on developing a comprehensive homelessness strategy which includes the state and city funding social service programs, developing and constructing housing for individuals and families at or below 60 percent area medium income (AMI), and increasing incentives for the construction of affordable housing.

The city must make it the number one priority to provide funding, through its Grant-In-Aid program, to non-profit organizations that directly serve and assist those individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

We need to first help mothers and children who are homeless and provide a safe and clean environment to shelter and receive much needed services.  We need to next help working homeless families that can’t make ends meet to find a place to live, yet are working and trying the best they can to make a living.

Once the state and city can successfully assist these two “at risk” groups, then we focus efforts on those individuals who have disabilities and substance abuse problems.

3. Oahu has one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Do you think the City Council should play a role in trying to make housing more affordable?

The City Council has the ability to establish a City policy on affordable housing for the properties the city owns. This discussion is currently taking place now with the discussion to sell the city’s current stock of affordable housing properties.  The City Council should establish policies that ensure these properties stay affordable for more than 50 years or in perpetuity.

The City Council also has the ability to have an effect on the type of development that will occur in Central Oahu, Ewa and on the North Shore.  The City Council should not waiver on the current 30 percent affordable housing requirement currently in the law for new development and should not allow “in-lieu of” payment for not constructing affordable homes.

4. Honolulu has some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. Some see rail as part of the solution. What other strategies should the city employ to alleviate congestion? 

I would be open to look at offering a “flex” work schedule for city employees.  The city would have to consult with the public sector unions, but the discussion should take place.

I would also like to see more city services offered in Kapolei to support the “Second City” concept adopted by the General Plan and the Ewa Development Plan. We should consider constructing another city office building near or adjacent to Kapolei Hale.

5. The mayor unsuccessfully sought to create additional sources of revenue for the city this year, including charging residents for trash pick-up and placing ads on the outside of buses. Do you think the city needs to boost its revenue? If so, what types of proposals would you support?

Prior to increasing any type of fee or taxes, I would examine the operating budget of the city to find opportunities to reduce costs and operate government more efficiently.

I strongly believe that the city has not looked at ways to reduce expenses such as electricity and fuel costs. For example, the city should establish a public/private partnership with a company to generate electricity using photovoltaic panels for the NBC Concert Hall and Blaisdell arena. The city should look at utilizing PV technology on all city buildings to reduce the electricity costs.

6. The City Council often has to sign off on important development decisions. Where do you stand on the development of Kakaako, transit-oriented development and the Envision Laie plan?

The development of Kakaako falls under the jurisdiction of the State’s Hawaii Community Development Authority and the city administration is responsible for approvals relating to sewer capacity and connections and water availability. Saying that, I do support development along the rail corridor and in urban Honolulu.

I strongly support Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) as it concentrates development along the rail system and takes the pressure off of building on agricultural land outside of the Urban Growth Boundary, i.e. Kunia, above Wahiawa and North Shore.  TOD will allow the city to implement both complete streets and smart growth principles that will create Live, Work and Play communities around each station. 

Envision Laie is currently being proposed as an amendment to the Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan.  I believe there are elements of the plan that I can support such as providing more affordable housing for Kahuku, Laie and Koolauloa residents but I will have to closely examine the amount of development occurring on agricultural lands. No final plans or proposal for zoning changes has been submitted to the City for review and examination, therefore, I would review the merits of the proposed project and make a fully informed decision on the project at that time.

7. Local officials have become increasingly concerned that a long history of leaks at the Navy’s Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility, mauka of Pearl Harbor, could contaminate drinking water supplies. What steps do you think Navy and government officials should be taking to address the issue?

I am very concerned about the potential for our drinking water to be contaminate by the Navy’s underground fuel storage facility.  I believe our congressional delegation should require the Navy to immediately investigate this issue and provide federal funding to help remediate the problem. Our congressional delegation should provide federal monies to help the Board of Water Supply provide safe drinking water to the surrounding communities.

8. What do you think of Mayor Kirk Caldwell? Is he doing a good job?

Being mayor of the City & County of Honolulu is a tough job. I believe in the current strong mayor, strong City Council form of government that exists in Honolulu. This type of system provides for checks and balances within the city and ensures that the taxpayers are receiving the best value for money.

I believe the mayor is doing the best he can given the resources provided.  

9. Do you think details about police officer misconduct should be made public? If so, why?

This is the authority of the Police Commission and the SHOPO to address the issue. I think it depends on the nature of misconduct. It should be proven facts not just allegations.

10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

If elected, I am committed to:

• Help improve the core city services of critical infrastructure.

• Keep our communities and pedestrians safe.

• Support our parks and recreational program.

• Help to create a better traffic pattern to ease congestion in the main corridors.