Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Gary Hooser, a candidate for the Kauai County Council. There are 12 other candidates, and Civil Beat has also received responses from JoAnn Yukimura and Mason Chock.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.

Gary Hooser
Gary Hooser 

Name: Gary Hooser

Office seeking: Kauai County Council

Occupation: Member, Kauai County Council

Community organizations/prior offices held: Director, state Office of Environmental Quality Control; State Senate majority leader; president, Board for the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action; former board member, Rotary Club of Kapaa, Island School and  Big Brothers Big Sisters

Age: 62

Place of residence: Wailua Homesteads, Kauai

Campaign website: garyhooser.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 Council is run?

The present leadership of the Council has instituted a policy of “no questions” between Council members and the public when the public provides testimony. I would reverse this policy and encourage full and robust dialogue between the community and the Council.

2. Should your county implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge? If so, for what purpose?

No. The GET is a very regressive tax. The county should lobby for its fair share of the TAT and for the right to tax rental car income.

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 infrastructure in many/most areas of Kauai is maxed out, especially the main state highway between Kapaa and Lihue. No major new developments should be allowed until there is adequate infrastructure capacity. The state must step up and accelerate improvements.

4. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?

Rules and guidelines governing the police commission must be rewritten to provide more clarity, transparency and accountability as to the oversight of the police department.

5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws? 

I authored the Kauai County law regulating lobbyists and lobbying which was passed this year and believe it is the strongest of any county.

6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?

Yes. I have personal experience as a member of the Council waiting extended lengths of time for information and then being charged high fees for what should be free and public information.

7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?

See No. 1 above. I also make my cell phone available to all (652-4279).

8. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?

The lack of affordable housing for local residents is the most pressing issue facing Kauai County. I have introduced several measures aimed at accelerating the increase in new rental units in areas such as Lihue that are serviced by adequate infrastructure and are employment centers. I am presently looking at measures that will provide incentives and encourage public/private partnerships with landowners who own already “entitled land” zoned for residential use, but who for some reason are not developing those lands.