Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Maile P. David, one of three candidates for Hawaii County Council, District 6 covering Volcano Village, Hawaiian Orchid Island Estates, Pahala, Punaluu, Naalehu, South Point, Ocean View, Milolii, Hookena, Honaunau, Keei, Napoopoo, Captain Cook, portion of Kealakekua, Keopuka Heights, Kona Hospital, Keopuka Kai.
The other candidates are Richard E. Abbett and Yumi Teresa Radtke Kawano.
1. The latest volcanic eruption demonstrates that some homes and infrastructure are particularly vulnerable to lava flow. Should this change Hawaii County’s approach to development, and if so, how?
Yes. Given the current eruption I believe the county should seriously consider designating a no-build area within the east rift zone and surrounding areas.
2. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
I don’t see changes are necessary at this time.
3. The Legislature has authorized Hawaii County to implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge. Should the county do it, and if so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
At this time there is currently a proposal for a 0.25% GET surcharge. Given the circumstances it would be an appropriate consideration at this time. As for the expenditure, I am hoping that consideration will be available to expand the purposes that the funds could be used for.
4. 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?
I will look toward our island’s community development plans for direction as these independent plans are the visions of our respective diverse communities. Moving forward, it is critically important that we work away from competing interests, and more towards finding a fair balance between economics and quality of life.
5. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
That is an internal administrative and union jurisdictional matter for which council members really have little or no authority over issues such as this. Having said that, however, I firmly believe in accountability of all public servants.
6. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
On both state and county levels, increase methods of accountability and oversight. Assign specific staff/department to review disclosure forms. Provide mandatory educational lobbying training to all government personnel focusing on what constitutes “lobbying,” the requirements for registering, and the penalties for non-compliance.
7. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes. I believe fees should be of a nominal minimum if the request is not overly burdensome (such as copies of documents from a county agency files). However, if such records are being requested for litigation purposes, I would assume that the production of documents and subpoena process would be the appropriate route, especially if records being requested cover several years of information.
8. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Since taking office I have made a personal effort to return calls personally and have instructed my staff that if there is a concern that cannot be resolved by their efforts, I prefer to speak with the individual personally. I have been a community advocate for more than 35 years and have conducted myself in my role as council member as a community servant first, rather than as a politician.
9. What more should Hawaii County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
In its permitting processes require conditions that preserve and protect ocean resources (e.g. 1,000-foot shoreline setbacks, preserve in place, cultural sites and historic landmarks); encourage legislation such as the recent banning of sunscreen products containing oxybenzone; consider implementing staggered rest periods at beach parks to allow ocean resources and marine life to rest and recover.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Environmental Protection Agency environmental mandates for Pahala and Na’alehu. Continue to work with the County Department of Environmental Management in community outreach regarding sewage treatment plant facilities in Pahala and Na’alehu to ensure timely construction per EPA. Work with administration representatives to determine an alternate site for the proposed Na’alehu plant that does not impact surrounding communities. South Kona road resurfacing. Continue discussion and firming up timeline for needed resurfacing in Captain Cook and Kainaliu.