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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 Kymberly Pine, a candidate for Honolulu City Council, District 1, which includes Waianae, Nanakuli, Honokai Hale, Kapolei, Makakilo, Kalaeloa and portions of Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach. There are three other candidates, Marc Anthony, Tom Berg and Kioni Dudley.
Name: Kymberly Marcos Pine
Office seeking: Honolulu City Council, District 1
Occupation: Member, City Council
Community organizations/prior offices held: Hawaii State House of Representatives; member, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission; lector at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Ewa Beach; volunteer member, US VETS Advisory Board; former AYSO soccer coach
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 45
Place of residence: Ewa Beach
Campaign website: www.pineforcouncil.com
1. Which is closest to your choice for Honolulu rail: Kill the project? Modify the route? Find the additional money to build the project as planned? Explain your choice and what you would do to accomplish that.
Build rail to Ala Moana without raising taxes. It is very important that we all strive to ensure that we build a rail system that we can afford. What we cannot afford is leaders making quick decisions in silos without real information. As leaders, we must remain firm in our resolve and not lose focus on why a clear majority of residents voted to build the rail — to give residents easier access to transportation options and reduce travel times for those with long commutes. Every decision must be based on this.
Before making any changes to the rail route, HART needs to review and seriously consider using financial tools that have helped municipalities across the country in their transit projects — public-private partnerships, securing long-term low-interest bonds, or even possibly delaying construction until construction costs lower to pre-construction boom levels.
We as leaders must come together, and in this current fiscal landscape, find a way to responsibly complete the project to Ala Moana so that it can best serve the people of Honolulu because rail isn’t just about sending workers to jobs in town. It’s also about improving the quality of life for commuters and revitalizing communities.
2. Is Oahu growing in the right direction? What would you do to make it more livable?
I ran for the City Council in 2012 because I believed that we were not growing in the right direction. Leeward Oahu residents were not being connected to leeward jobs, and home construction was being directed primarily to my district. As a result, we are suffering from traffic growth today. In addition, much of the homeless population was sent to my district, and our parks were neglected.
Since I have been on the City Council, housing is now being directed all over the island to share the population growth. I passed legislation that directs each Council district to create solutions for its area homeless instead of sending the majority of homeless to mine. In addition, my team and I created the Hire Leeward initiative, which connects leeward residents to leeward jobs. Many residents who once spent two to three hours in traffic now spend just minutes driving to their new jobs.
The city is now investing more into our parks by fixing bathrooms and playground equipment and adding staff. Parks like Oneula Beach Park in Ewa Beach and Puu o Hulu Park on the Waianae Coast, which had languished for decades without a functioning bathroom, will now get new restrooms.
3. 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 City Council is run?
I believe the Council should allow residents to submit video testimony at Council meetings.
Legislative committee meetings are the heart of our city’s legislative process. The committee process provides Council members more opportunity to closely study a measure than would be possible in a floor debate. Most importantly, committees may hear from residents who support or oppose the measure. While giving public testimony before a legislative committee can be an exciting and fulfilling experience that often influences the committee’s action, it is limited to those who can attend live, in-person.
With most City Council meetings held in town at Honolulu Hale during the daytime hours, it is difficult and sometimes impossible for residents living in Leeward Oahu or other rural communities to commute and let their voice be heard. Video testimony may also be a more affordable and convenient option for residents who want to help shape public policy.
4. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
A healthy government is one that is free for legislators to openly share ideas and work together to create public policy that best represents the needs of the people each legislator serves. Since the Council is non-partisan, it promotes a community and collaborative atmosphere to work through issues and put the people we all represent first. Hawaii may be dominated by the Democratic Party, but this is by the approval of the majority of the people who identify themselves as Democrats.
5. What specific steps would you support to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
City and county officers are held to more stringent standards than are state legislators. Most relevant is the “Sunshine” or Open Meetings Law, which prohibits groups of Council members from discussing city business outside of a properly noticed public hearing. This is quite extensive and prevents so-called backroom dealing, as all action on bills or resolutions must occur in a public discussion. Moreover, all conflicts of interest must be disclosed in writing before a vote is taken. These steps help ensure transparency and accountability to our residents.
6. Would you support eliminating Honolulu’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
The best way to cut costs is to transition storage of our public documents from hard-copy format to electronic format. This makes documents not only easy to retrieve and distribute to the public, but also cheaper to reproduce. The City Council and the city Clerk’s Office have done an excellent job at making the majority of document submitted to the Council publicly available on the City Council’s website. This includes bills, resolutions, meeting minutes, individual testimony, department communications and correspondence from Council members.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Two-way communication with our residents is essential to crafting good public policy. We use traditional and new ways to share what is happening at Honolulu Hale and in our leeward communities. My team and I put out weekly electronic newsletters with the latest city and community events and reports on important city business that affects the Leeward Coast. We also create four monthly newsletters for each of our communities – Waianae Coast, Nanakuli/Maili, Kapolei/Makakilo/Honokai Hale and Ewa Beach that share city and community news that affects these specific neighborhoods. These publications are available in print at neighborhood board meetings or online on my website. Our website is updated daily with information about district projects, legislation and other city news. Residents can connect with me through a form on my homepage, www.councilmemberpine.com, or by emailing me at email@example.com, messaging me on Facebook, or calling my office, 768-5001.
8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Improving the quality of life for the residents of the Leeward Coast continues to be my most pressing concern. Together with our other community leaders, I am working to create opportunities in our district by improving transportation with progress on important projects like the Makakilo Drive Extension, contraflow lane in Nanakuli, Waianae Coast Emergency Access Road, implementing safer complete streets plans and overseeing the repaving of hundreds of miles of roads throughout the district, completing rail to Ala Moana, revitalizing our parks, increasing economic opportunities with jobs in the area, and making our community a safer and cleaner place for our ohana.