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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
Name: Alan D. Kaufman
Office seeking: Maui County Council, Makawao-Haiku-Paia seat
Community organizations/prior offices held: Kula School PTA president, 1994-1996; Kula Community Association president, 1996-1997, 2007; Maui County Public Safety Commission, 1998-2001, vice-chair; Maui County Board of Ethics, 2004-2009, chair; Maui County Subcommittee Zoo and Botanical Garden, 1995; Hawaii State Education Improvement Plan: Goals 2000, 1994-1995; J. Walter Cameron Center, 2010-2016, Board of Directors, past-president; Board of Veterinary Examiners, 2011-2016
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 67
Place of residence: Haiku, Maui
See on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaufmanForCouncil/
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?
To change how our Council is run we need to change how we elect the Council. For several decades, all county voters elect all nine council members. Researching, listening to, and gaining insight about this many candidates is daunting. Many responsible hard-working community members simply cannot make the time. The result? Incumbents, even when not supported by a majority within their residency districts, continue to be elected by countywide majorities based on name recognition. District voting would make Council members, who are best known to residents close to their homes, responsible to the people who know them best. District voting provides the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate a smaller number of candidates.
The argument has been made that the current system enables our highly valued but geographically remote communities to have a stronger voice. That is true. Following that reasoning to its conclusion suggests creating additional Council seats for all our small communities, including Kanaio and Kahakuloa. That logic is untenable within a one-man, one-vote democratic society.
District voting does not deprive anyone from running for office. It would give new candidates, from any part of our multi-island county, a better opportunity to appeal to the voters within their own communities.
2. Should your county implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge? If so, for what purpose?
Rather than expand a regressive tax system into a more aggressive regressive system, a rate adjustment to property taxes to keep pace with inflation is preferred to an increase in the General Excise Tax.
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?
Increasing population will always result in increased development. Steady state population is part of the sustainability equation. While family planning is and should remain an individual decision, regulating the number of vehicles in an island environment is an achievable reality that can have a major environmental sparing effect.
4. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?
Accountability starts at the top and, looking at his record, the appointment of Tivoli Faaumu as Maui County’s chief of police is a big step in providing the accountability the public desires.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
Existing requirements are not so much a problem but rather the need for ongoing public review of available information.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Public record data should be available for free, not for a fee.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
See the commentary above regarding district voting. Council members listen to those they know and those who support them. When you live in a community and work with the community members, it is easy to hear and difficult to ignore what people say.
8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
I will work to bring accountability of Council members to the voters within their residency district by putting a district voting measure on the ballot.