- Special Projects
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 Gabe Johnson, a candidate for Maui County Council (Lanai). The other candidate is Riki Hokama.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
The county is focused on keeping for-profits up and running, yet ignoring our very important nonprofits. County funds have been going toward infrastructure that benefits tourism or the county’s bottom line. I would like to see funds be invested in our non profits and infrastructure like homes and road for the locals and the middle class. Put simply, people over profits.
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?
I am against raising the GET surcharge because it over-taxes the people who live and work in these islands. I go to the store daily, and a tourist may visit for two weeks. Who will the GET surcharge effect more? Us, of course.
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?
There is plenty of greener sustainable ways to run our economy. We build an economy to make it its job to protect the environment. If we focus on cleaning up what we have the economy and the land will both benefit together.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
The training is the key. I am no expert in police training but I would like to make sure that Maui County Police officers are beholden to the law as are all of us.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
Well, first the public needs to know about this in a timely manner. Presently it takes the state and county way too long to get any kind of documents by using the Freedom of Information Act. Secondly Maui County is trying to purge its email system of old emails. I am against that policy wholeheartedly. Transparency should be a given in a democracy.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes it should be free. FOIA request has the word “freedom” in it. It’s clear.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
Here on Lanai its hard because of interisland travel. The county offices are on Maui and my home is Lanai. My weekends will always still be spent in Blue Ginger Cafe talking over morning coffee as usual with the locals of the community. That is very important to me. Accessible government is key.
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?
We need gabions in the streams above the gulches to keep run off and erosion out of our ocean. Seaside roads need to be moved up in the long run but for now our reefs need a relief. I’m for the oxybenzone ban.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Lanai needs a skate park, affordable housing project, and the agriculture park must be made. If the county follows through on its promise of a community kitchen, Lanai can make value-added products from the land that they can farm.