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 Ori Kopelman, a candidate for Maui Mayor. There are six other candidates, Don Guzman, Elle Cochran, Alec Hawley, Beau Hawkes, Mike Victorino and Laurent Zahnd.

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

Candidate for Maui Mayor

Ori Kopelman
Party Nonpartisan
Age 56
Occupation Project management consultant
Residence Kahului


Community organizations/prior offices held

Rotary Club of Maui, 1998-2011.

1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?

We need to elect people on the council in a more equitable and intelligent manner. Currently they can buy votes to get on it, although thankfully the Campaign Spending Commission sets limits.

2. The Legislature has authorized Maui 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?

Yes. Affordable housing.

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?

Keep doing things as we are now.

4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?

Finish implementing the use of body cams and dash cams.

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

I don’t know.

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?

Hold a monthly talk story session. Attempt to answer all emails.

8. What more should Maui County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?

I don’t know.

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

Apathy. People feeling resigned to just making ends meet. Have them understand and buy into the mauitopia vision (see mauitopia.org), defined as:

Mauitopia will be an ideal, utopian society of the future. A first-of-its-kind place on this scale where thanks to technology all of us have our survival needs met, food, clothing, and shelter, while pursuing self-actualization. A place where we’d find true happiness by each contributing our unique gifts to the community. A place where we can all co-exist in peace and harmony, with no crime, and where we can all help each other grow and succeed. Its free market economics will be based on regulated capitalism and make a real, true paradise, Maui NoKaOi.