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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Shannon McCandless, a candidate for Hawaii County mayor. There are 12 other candidates.
Name: Shannon K.K. McCandless
Office seeking: Hawaii County mayor
Occupation: Supervising driver license examiner
Community organizations/prior offices held: Waimea Lion’s Club, Cub Scouts Pack 27, Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 31
Place of residence: Waimea, Hawaii
Campaign website: www.shannonmccandless.com
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 county government is run?
I would like to see more collaboration between the County Council and the mayor’s administration to insure that we are best serving and meeting the community’s needs. Transparency and accountability are two areas that government needs to improve.
2. Should your county implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge? If so, for what purpose?
Hawaii County should consider implementing a 0.5 percent GET surcharge as an option to fund infrastructure improvements. Building and maintaining roads and highways are costly; and funding sources are limited. Most infrastructure improvements are funded by federal dollars, county bonds, or a combination of both.
At the rate in which Hawaii County’s population is growing, in addition to visitors who travel on our roadways, we need to improve our infrastructure and also be able to have the ability to maintain it. Without an increase in the GET, funding will have to come from other areas such as real property tax, vehicle registration fees, and services to cover costs. In the long run, an increase in the GET tax rather than taxing real property tax, vehicle registration fees, and services allows all people, whether it’s citizens or visitors, to bear the burden of paying for infrastructure upgrades rather than being solely dependent on residents to foot the bill.
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 want to see more responsible development. Development that focuses on growing and flourishing our communities while, being mindful of the cultural significance and natural resources that surround us on Hawaii Island. Refocus the planning process by incorporating cultural sites and natural resources into the landscape of our communities, and balancing areas of development with open space.
4. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?
In order to strengthen police accountability, we need to have better relationships with police and the communities in which they serve. The police need to be more involved in the community. More effort and initiatives should be made to be more visible, understanding the needs of the people and building and fostering relationships that establish and affirm trust.
The community has to actively take ownership of its responsibility. Meeting police halfway to be informed, aware of issues and areas of concern and being examples themselves of model citizens are the first steps to strengthening police accountability.
Strengthening police accountability can only be effective for the long term when the community realizes that it is the citizens and the community as a whole that decide what is and is not acceptable and what will and will not be tolerated.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
I would like to see the Ethics Commission be more proactive in seeing to it that elected officials don’t receive gifts in the forms of tickets, trips and fundraiser tickets to influence their vote on bills, committees, commissions or task forces. All elected officials should be treated as other state and county employees are treated under normal ethics oversight.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
I support a decrease in fees to allow the public to have greater access when requesting records that are in the public interest. Eliminating fees are unrealistic when there are costs associated with making, gathering and correlating records.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I will make staff and cabinet available to the public by having both myself and directors have office hours in both Hilo and Kona on a daily basis. Increasing options for availability for the community to reach out to their elected officials by increasing communication via phone, email, website, office visits and literature. I will continue to visit all parts of Hawaii Island regularly to touch base with the community, to hear their concerns, see their needs first hand, and work toward building stronger relationships to encourage greater communication.
8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Hawaii Couinty? What will you do about it?
Sustainability is the most pressing issue facing Hawaii County. The county’s population has been growing at a disproportionate rate in comparison to the existing infrastructure (roads, water and sewer), availability of affordable housing and public transportation.
I will continue to improve our infrastructure and actively seek partnerships with the community, other government agencies and non-government agencies to obtain expertise and funding.
Addressing the need for more affordable housing is emanate. The county needs to be proactive in establishing more affordable housing. This can only be done by creating partnerships within the private and public sector. These partnerships need to include working with financial institutions and non-profit organizations to secure a variety of financial options to assist our residents in being homeowners via credit counseling or offering various payment options such as rent to own, down payment programs or self-help programs.
Lastly, we need to increase public transportation so that our community has access to resources such as: health care, education, work and training opportunities. Long term, an increase in public transportation will help to diversify our economy, sustainability and resources.