Office seeking: Maui County Council, Molokai District
Occupation: Maui County Council member
Community organizations/prior offices held: Founding member, Molokai Trust; past board member, Na Puuwai, Hawaiian Health Systems; founding member/partner, East Molokai Watershed
Place of residence: Kalamaula, Molokai
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?
Serving in the Maui County Council is a full-time commitment and I appreciate the work we do. Council is the legislative branch of our government that provides open public engagement.
Recently, a special committee made up of community members deliberated for six months to consider whether establishing a county manager form of government for the County of Maui would improve management and operation of county government. The county manager form was proposed to the Council for consideration to list the resolution on the ballot for a charter amendment. I did not support the submitted proposal. Six months of vetting, in my opinion, was not sufficient. There were too many legal questions. Hawaii’s state attorney general also had a legal opinion that the change may be in violation of civil servants’ status.
As Council, we are policymakers and we approve or adjust the administration’s budget proposal. Through the budget process that administration submits, Council is able to evaluate the administration. At this time, I would not change the way our council is run but would like consideration from the state legislature to revisit the sunshine law.
2. Should your county implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge? If so, for what purpose?
No, we should not implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge. Our county is unique. Hana, Lanai and Molokai are part of Maui County. Rural areas will be heavily affected because of its economic challenges. Should it ever be implemented, I would exempt food and prescription charges from the 0.5 percent, and assign its earnings to a special housing homeless fund.
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?
The word is, “compatibility.” Environmental laws are in place to protect the conservation and richness of our natural resources. We need to work with developers to adhere to our laws for all to appreciate and benefit. Reconsideration of shoreline setbacks may need to be analyzed to meet today’s protective needs. I believe a sincere dialogue with developers is of essence to provide “compatibility.” The partnership will also provide affordable homes for our residents.
4. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?
The Maui Police Department is strong with accountability. However, if there were consideration to strengthen police accountability, I would create policies to hold the department accountable by reporting publicly for transparency. I would establish a working group to identify how we as the county of Maui, SHOPO, management and the Police Commission can be responsive to strengthen police accountability.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
It’s the state Legislature that needs to pass laws to have full disclosure of campaign and financial reports of policymakers or its contributors.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
My philosophy is very simple: “The doors are open.” I appreciate any dialogue with my constituents – whether we agree or don’t agree.
8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
My district is Molokai. We need to retain and support existing businesses that employ our island residents. Employment opportunities are very limited. We need to provide the opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn the business process and support the creative business people to be able to advertise via technology to the outside and allow the process to infuse new monies into the island without infringing on the island’s natural resources.
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