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Editor’s note:For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Joey Manahan, a candidate for Honolulu City Council, District 7, which includes Kalihi, lwilei, Sand Island, Kalihi Kai, Mapunapuna, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Hickam, Foster Village, Ford Island, and Sand Island. There is one other candidate, Chace Shigemasa.
Community organizations/prior offices held: State representative, 2006-2012
Age as of Aug. 13, 2016: 45
Place of residence: Kalihi
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.
Find the additional money and proceed as planned. Keeping our commitment to rail and the fixed guideway through to Ala Moana and UH Manoa is essential for Oahu to be able to manage traffic and growth well into the future.
With nine of the 21 stations (Stadium to Iwilei) located in District 7, we have a majority of transit-oriented development at stake, and we cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity to meaningfully address our housing crisis by building affordable workforce housing in the Kalihi corridor.
The Council needs to ensure that we have a viable financial plan to see rail construction through the urban core beyond Middle Street into Ala Moana and UH Manoa. The Council must take the lead in working with the Legislature, the Federal Transit Administration and private developers along the transit oriented development corridor to finance the remainder of the project into town.
2. Is Oahu growing in the right direction? What would you do to make it more livable?
Owning a home on Oahu has become a privilege, and the creation of low-income housing needs to be a priority for the city and the state. We need to centralize the city’s affordable housing funds within the Hawaii Public Housing Authority in order to be able to leverage them with other means of financing from federal and state resources such as CDBG, low-income housing tax credits, Housing First monies, Section 8 and even state and county lands for housing developers and service providers to access through a formal RFP.
By leveraging all our resources we can create more low-income housing developments more consistently and on a regular basis.Working with the Hawaii Public Housing Authorityalso eliminates the need for the creation of a new department in the city to implement and manage these projects.
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 spend most of my time working with Council members and the administration to find compromises between us, especially on key issues such as rail and homelessness. Striking a balance is always a struggle, but it is not impossible.
4. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
Both Democrats and Republicans in this election are re-examining their respective parties’ core values and beliefs.I think that’s an essential part of the process, but at the end of the day, both parties need to recognize that the middle class, the backbone of our nation, is suffering, and there needs to be more equity in the growing gaps between the wealthy and the impoverished.
5. What specific steps would you support to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
The laws are sufficient, and with the right interpretation and execution they can be more effective. For example, Former State Ethics Director Les Kondo reinterpreted the same ethics laws that governed the Legislature for years and years. By re-interpreting and executing the law to the letter of the law, he was able to challenge the status quo and dissuade legislators from their practice of attending events where meals above $25 were served and from playing golf tournaments with lobbyists.
6. Would you support eliminating Honolulu’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes, if it is indeed in the public’s best interest.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I have always believed in having direct communications with constituents. Giving people a direct line of communication either through cellphone, email, and/or social media is the most personal form of communication.Being present at Neighborhood Board meetings and having quarterly community cleanups and citizen’s patrols are also helpful in staying in touch with constituents.
If there are issues facing the district that require broader reach in a timely fashion as most issues on the Council do, then I communicate through the media, TV, radio and print.
8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
If rail stops at Middle Street, it will kill the project and transit-oriented development. Again, keeping our commitment to rail and the fixed guideway through to Ala Moana and UH Manoa is essential for Oahu to be able to manage traffic and growth well into the future.
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