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

The following came from Dave Burlew, one of three candidates for the Honolulu City Council District 2 seat, which is nonpartisan. The others are Dan Hara and Ernie Martin.

District 2 includes Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, North Shore and Windward Coast

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

Name: Dave Burlew
Office: Honolulu City Council District 2
Profession: Organic farmer
Education: BA, Liberal Studies with a concentration in Agriculture. Have attended both University of Hawaii Manoa and UH Hilo
Date of Birth: 42
Community organizations:  Kokua Hawaii Foundation, former member North Shore Neighborhood Board
Dave Burlew

Dave Burlew

1. Why are you running for the Honolulu City Council?  
To stimulate locally based business and job growth while promoting economic expansion and diversity for the city and county of Honolulu. To increase food security and environmental sustainability. Advocate solutions for homelessness including prevention. Increase the health of our communities through the expansion of community gardens on county parks and open spaces. These goals can be achieved without raising taxes, creating new taxes or raising user fees. The key to success would be through focusing on an underutilized economic driver, a local agriculturally based economy.

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?
The creation of workforce housing would help the homeless that are able and willing to work. The city and county could promote workforce housing that would also help local business expansion. With growth of agriculture and food manufacturing we could get homeless off the streets and in jobs and housing that will benefit all the residents and visitors of Oahu. Workforce housing can lessen the burden associated with homelessness. Homelessness can be the result of social problems people face such as drug and alcohol addiction or mental illness. We need treatment first, not housing first. If you are homeless and are not able to identify the need or have the desire to seek treatment for problems, housing alone will not help the situation. We can at least start to identify those that are willing to help themselves and provide jobs and workforce housing. I am a realist when it comes to homelessness and we all have to come to a general consensus that there is no one solution that will end homelessness and the best we can do is help those that are willing to help themselves.

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?<
Yes, the City Council needs to ensure that when plans for redevelopment are approved, we do not lose previously affordable housing, to housing that is out of reach for lower income residents. Developers need to commit to creating housing that is available to all income levels, and the city and county has to hold them accountable. Concrete guidelines that create and maintain affordable housing needs to be in place and enforced before building projects are approved. Developers should consider contributing to the City’s affordable housing fund instead of to political campaigns.

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?
Ride share programs could be expanded as well as commuter parking for those heading into the city. The county could give a tax credit to those individuals that commit to ride share programs, this would be justified by the reduction of cars utilizing the roads. Expanding city service centers, such as satellite city halls, to additional communities outside of Honolulu would reduce the need to come into the city and therefore the amount of vehicles that come into the city. The county could increase telecommuting for city workers; allowing employees to work at home just one day a week would have a profound effect on traffic. Bike paths and bike path projects need to be continually funded and expanded.

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? 

The city can increase revenue, increase the tax base and create new jobs by promoting agriculturally based economic growth. Statewide, Hawaii spends well over $300 billion in offshore food purchases a year. That’s a lot of market share for farmers, food artisans and food manufacturers on Oahu to capture. Promoting agricultural expansion will protect and conserve our precious island resources.

Importing less food will reduce our oil consumption and protect the environment. Agriculturally based economic expansion will set the city and county of Honolulu on a course of sustainability. Increasing agriculture will not only benefit farmers, but businesses that support agriculture, such as cars dealerships selling tractors, hardware stores selling farming equipment, pet food stores catering to the animal industry, etc. The time is now to act.

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?

I’m an advocate for urban growth. Kakaako was in the planning stages for quite some time and is now moving forward at a rapid pace. Although building plans can be amended to suit the needs of the current conditions, I do not agree with changing the rules to suit developers’ desires. Many lawmakers have worked very hard to put restrictions on certain types of development to benefit all residents. Adjusting height variances and expanding growth in areas such as Kakaako Makai is unacceptable. Affordable housing needs to be included and supported in Kakaako without compromises. Green space in Kakaako  is just as important as buildings.

Transit-oriented development must give preference to local small businesses. Locally based small business owners should be the ones to benefit from transit-oriented development. Business proposals for transit-oriented development can be ranked and approved by their benefits to the communities they intend to serve. Affordable housing can be concentrated adjacent to transit stations, which would help workers and increase ridership for the trains.

Envision Laie is a hot topic in my district. I do not support changing the Koolauloa Sustainable Community Plan that will inevitably pave the way for massive development of rural Oahu. Pre-approved development plans should be honored but it is unacceptable to encroach development in Malaekahana agricultural lands. Keep the country country!

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?
The Navy needs to take action immediately or run the risk of lawsuits to force the permanent correction of the leaking tank problems. The prevention of contamination of our drinking water should be a priority for the city and county. The taxpayers should not be burdened by the costs associated with cleaning up contaminated drinking water. The Navy owns the storage tanks and should take responsibility to correct the problems.

8. What do you think of Mayor Kirk Caldwell? Is he doing a good job?
Under Caldwell’s administration we are seeing some of the biggest public works and private development projects Oahu has ever seen. The mayor should always take into consideration the future of Oahu beyond his tenure in office. Building just to build may mean jobs now, but can also have an adverse affect on future generations. The mayor should consider the past, present and future in his decision-making process. My main criticism of the mayor is he could be doing more to curb the homeless situation in Waikiki. The homeless situation in Waikiki is having a negative impact on tourism.

9. Do you think details about police officer misconduct should be made public? If so, why?
I support making the details of police misconduct public. My justification of making details about police misconduct public is on the basis of police officers are public figures paid by taxpayer dollars. Being a public figure opens you up to public scrutiny. I believe that if police officers knew their actions would be made public and they would be held accountable, misconduct would most likely be reduced.

10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
Average citizens need to get involved in the political process. Some decisions are being made by those in office without the public’s input. Therefore, politicians may not always be taking into consideration the public’s needs and desires. There are many public office positions where the incumbents are running unopposed. While one can argue that maybe those running unopposed may be doing a good job, there may also be a sense of complacency on their part.Too many come out to voice their concerns after it is too late. I may just be an organic farmer by trade, but I have a voice, an unalienable right to be a part of the political process. If you are not a part of the solution, you may be part of the problem. Exercise your freedoms, stand up for what you believe in, fight for your rights!

About the Author