Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Danny Paleka, a candidate for Hawaii County Council District 5, which includes a portion of Kealakekua, Kona Scenic Subdivision, Kainaliu, Honalo, Keauhou, Kahaluu, Holualoa, Kona Hillcrest, Pualani Estates, Sunset View, Kuakini Heights, Kona Vistas, Alii Heights, Kona Industrial and Lono Kona. There is one other candidate, Jennifer Ruggles.
Name: Danny Paleka
Office seeking: Hawaii County Council District 5
Occupation: Hawaii County Council member
Community organizations/prior offices held: Lehua Jaycees; Hui Malama Keiki, treasurer
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 52
Place of residence: Kurtistown, Hawaii County
Campaign website: dannypaleka.org
1: This year has seen an outsized influence from people who want big changes in how government is run. What would you do to change how the Council is run?
This current election cycle brings to light the large divide that exists in our electorate due to various issues people feel that government is not addressing or has not addressed adequately. The divide focuses on socio-economical, environmental and individual rights issues. On the County Council level I would like to address ways to include all voices of my constituents, from the very vocal to the silent voice in order to obtain the most accurate reflection of views presented. I also would require more empirical data and research during discussion and consideration before comprehensive and technical legislation is submitted.
2. Should your county implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge? If so, for what purpose?
I do not believe a 0.5 percent surcharge is in the best interest of the people and in accordance with the testimonies, emails and comments submitted by our constituents. The increase in revenue through an increase to the general excise tax would have presented a disproportionate burden on our fixed income and lower income population, therefore the decision to not approve the legislation was the correct one. If it did pass I would want the proceeds to be dedicated to infrastructure.
3. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests?
I would balance the competing interests by continuing the fair share requirements on developments and also the affordable housing stipulations placed on developers. Affordable housing developments could be incentivized that are sustainable and energy efficient, which would have the energy-saving benefits which also has positive effects to our environment while providing a desperate need for housing for our growing population.
4. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?
I would work with the department, Police Commission and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers in ways that we could improve police accountability that are in the best interest of officers and the public they serve.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
I believe financial disclosure of lobbyists’ gifts and honorariums should be mandatory. Our ethics code should be amended regarding contracts so that county employees, directors and elected officials are not allowed to contract with the county and if they possess a controlling interest in a firm or business than that business is also prohibited and if they own just a minority share they must disclose the relationship prior to consideration for any contract.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
I believe a reasonable fee is proper. If electronic files could be offered, that could save much on fees where the cost is primarily for retrieval time and printing.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Listening skills are essential to good representation. Sincere and empathetic listening and affirming one’s perception to the intended message of the speaker is always good practice and competency also assists in communication. Suggestion boxes are also a good idea where the public can submit comments and remain somewhat anonymous.
8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
I believe that ensuring the proper systems of transportation and communication are the most pressing issues for our district. Mass transit, roads and communications infrastructure are necessary for any growth and an integral part of all safe long term, sustainable and environmentally sound communities.