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

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

Office: Honolulu City Council District 8

Profession: Former teacher; legislative aide to Councilman Breene Harimoto

Education: Aiea High School ’04; B.S. Economics and Business Administration, St. Mary’s College of California ’08; MBA, Chaminade University of Honolulu ’11.

Age: 28

Community organizations: Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Japanese Junior Chamber, Filipino Junior Chamber, Young Democrats of Hawaii, Stewardship and
Development Commission.

Brandon Elefante, City Council District 8 candidate, 2014

Brandon Elefante

1. Why are you running for the Honolulu City Council?
As a lifelong resident of the district, a second generation descendant of Filipino immigrants, and proud graduate of Hawaii’s public school system, I have a clear
understanding of the many concerns we face as a community. Council District 8 has grown tremendously over the past several years. I learned a great deal about how the
city functions on a day-to-day basis through my experience working for current Honolulu City Councilmember Breene Harimoto. I’ve had the privilege of serving as a staff
member for Councilmember Harimoto over the past three years and have been deeply involved in the process of shaping key policy issues such as: zoning and planning,
transportation, public works and sustainability, the city budget. However, our most important role continues to be addressing the needs of our constituents. Together, we
have been able to accomplish passing the Complete Streets Ordinance to make our streets safer, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) policies, establishing a parklets pilot
project, allowing more access for SNAP/EBT users at the city’s People’s Open Markets, and much more.

I care deeply about our future and believe I am prepared to play a larger role in shaping that future by offering solutions to improve our city based on my experience working as a legislative aide and my active involvement in community service organizations such as the Hawaii Jaycees — Filipino and Japanese Jaycees, Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Aiea Neighborhood Board, Young Democrats, and as a former high school teacher and golf coach.

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?

Comprehensive efforts such as the “Housing First” program, which seeks to address the issue of chronic homelessness in communities while also helping these people
get back on their feet, are an excellent place to start. This particular program has been deemed a success in cities such as Seattle, Denver, and New York. By combining
existing resources and working collaboratively with our state and federal governments, the City and County of Honolulu would be in a stronger position to address the issue.

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 has the responsibility to implement policies that encourage the creation of more affordable housing and opportunities for low to moderate-income
people. Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) presents an opportunity to encourage more affordable housing in close proximity to the rail stations. With TOD, we can
enhance and revitalize older neighborhoods into vibrant economic destinations. In December 2013, the City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 13-274 which
urges the city administration to develop an affordable housing policy in TOD special districts by looking at a feasible mix of market rate housing, moderate-income workforce housing, and other options.

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?

The Honolulu Rail Transit project is the best option that we have and will provide transportation for thousands of families. Council District 8 will also have five rail transit stations and transit-oriented development (TOD) areas. I support TOD and smart growth principles because it will help spur the revitalization efforts of older neighborhoods to allow for mixed uses and encourage more housing opportunities along the rail line. Most notably, I am fully committed to making sure that the project is built on time and on budget.

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?

It’s not a popular topic. But, this is arguably the biggest issue facing Honolulu as we look to the future. Inflation increases operating costs and increasing revenues is necessary just to keep pace. Yes, the city needs to continue to look at innovative ways to increase revenue streams, whether it be through user fees, advertising on our city buses, or even revisiting the idea increasing the county fuel tax. While it pains me to say this, at this point, nothing should be off the table.

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?

Responsible development. That’s what we need to emphasize. People are raising concerns over these new, seemly fast-tracked development projects and we need
to listen. I support more housing that local families can afford and sustainable development in Kakaako. However, while the oversight of Kakaako is under the
authority of the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), it’s important for HCDA to work with the city to create a well-planned, thriving community by
incorporating good planning principles. Both HCDA and the city need to plan for present and future infrastructure needs, such as school capacity, open space, sewers, roads, and more, in order to meet current demands and sustain growth. We must also ensure that Complete Streets principles are applied. Finally, I believe the city is quite capable and can handle more oversight of Kakaako. It is for this reason that I believe the city is capable and should handle much more oversight of Kakaako’s development.
I also strongly support transit-oriented development (TOD) principles because they provide opportunities to revitalize and enhance older neighborhoods and transform
them into vibrant destinations within a one-quarter to one-half of a mile radius around rail stations. TOD will help to create more housing options for first time home buyers, low to moderate income families, and people looking for a place to rent. TOD will also create attractive communities that we can live, work, and play.

Envision Laie is just one development proposal within the Koolau Loa Development Plan (Bill 47–2013), which stretches from Ka’a’awa to Kawela. It is essential that all
the communities along this rural coastline find consensus on the competing demands of new development versus “keeping the country, country.” This plan is still evolving
and the availability and cost of adequate infrastructure will be a decisive factor. While I would like to see the area’s rural character protected, I will work with the area residents and the Councilmember of the district to assure that a sustainable balance is achieved.

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 look forward to strengthening our city’s partnership with the U.S. Navy as we continue to tackle these types of issues together. We’ll continue to coordinate our efforts as well as communicate with local agencies such as the Department of Health and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply to ensure that proper mitigation measures are implemented.

We need take action to construct more monitoring wells around the Underground Fuel Storage Facility site and continue to gather more data on water samples. I’m confident the Navy will continue its efforts to inform the public on its progress. Our fresh water is precious and contamination in this area will adversely impact our water supply system. Protecting our quality of water must be a top priority.

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

Mayor Caldwell has worked hard to fix our roads and other infrastructure. He continues to advocate for rail, transit-oriented development (TOD) and bike sharing, while also making sure Honolulu remains a safe place to live and visit. Given the political climate at Honolulu Hale, Mayor Caldwell is doing a fine job leading our city. If elected, I know I can work with the mayor and my colleagues on the City Council in moving our city forward, by improving our parks, making our streets even safer, increasing sustainability efforts, and promoting healthy initiatives for Honolulu families.

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

I strongly support our men and women in blue and thank them for dedicating their lives to upholding the law and keeping our streets safe. We must strike the right balance on this issue. Due to the sensitive nature of these types of internal investigations and how they impact adjoining investigations, these need to be approached and addressed on a case-by-case basis.

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

We must remain diligent in making sure our keiki and our seniors are never left out of the conversation. There are opportunities for the City Council to advocate for our kupuna and for our children and I will work my hardest to make sure their needs are addressed.

I grew up in Council District 8. This is and always will be my home. My experience, educational focus, and my direct involvement in the community, have prepared me to take on the duties and responsibilities as the next Councilmember to represent the people of Aiea, Pearl City, and Waipahu.