Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 6 General Election, 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 Tasha Kama, a candidate for Maui County Council (Kahului). The other candidate is Alan Arakawa.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
Development of policies should be values based. Committees should be established into single topical areas.
Each council member should chair at least one committee that she or he feels they would like to chair.
Council meetings could be held during the evenings as well as in the community.
The county should have housing and transportation available for neighbor island council members at their disposal.
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?
The 0.5 percent GET surcharge could be used to develop new water sources for upcountry water, improve the infrastructure, purchase land for housing and a host of other good reasons, but I do not feel that this would be a good thing to do at this time. We have heard over and over again how the costs of living is driving families to seek better economic opportunities elsewhere, my sense is that this would be another burden for them. We should be scrutinizing the current budget and look to trimming rather than adding an additional tax on our people. Governments’ job is to relieve the people’s burden not be the cause of it.
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?
I would balance the new development and the need to protect our environmental resources through the utilization and enforcement of the Hawaii Public Trust Doctrine which reads, “For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawaii’s natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State. All public natural resources are held in trust by the State for the benefit of the people.”
We must use the model of success shown to us by the indigenous people’s of this place if we intend to continue to be a vibrant and thriving island community.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
The strength of any unit is dependent upon its leadership, the values used in decision making, training received, appropriate amount of funding and an engaged community that is supportive of the work but also is courageous in holding the leadership accountable. I think the relationships between the mayor and council must be one of mutual respect so law enforcement has the sense and feeling that they are supported by their peers as well as their community. I would seek to develop opportunities for these entities as well as others within the county departments to foster positive relationships among each other.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
Increase transparency. Prohibit/limit lobbyists from contributing to elected officials’ campaign fund.
Have lobbyists register with the state. Publicize the list on the state website. Have legislators place a log in sheet on their doors for lobbyist to sign in/sign out.
Increase funding for enforcement.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Eliminating no, decreasing yes.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Set aside a day, date, time to ask voters to help me to understand what they are asking for and confirm that communication. Get to work to respond to it.
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?
Work with communities to develop a plan to educate the public and including necessary steps. Stop issuing permits for people to build on the ocean, place a larger setback for shoreline, do not allow retaining walls to be built.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Lack of affordable housing. Lease DHHL lands and build affordable rentals and homes.