- 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 Riki Hokama, a candidate for Maui County Council (Lanai). The other candidate is Gabe Johnson.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
No, I feel the council has shown that we are responsible and timely in review of items and requests under the council’s jurisdiction through our committee structure.
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?
No, I don’t believe that the county should implement a GET surcharge. I prefer that we get our fair share of TAT revenues that we generate. I think the state has been negligent in their responsibility in terms of revenue generation, and that has now negatively impacted the counties. The state has the ability to enact the surcharge themselves, why leave that responsibility to the counties?
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 am looking at new economic development opportunities, such as education and health care that reduces its need for environmental resources for capital. I want to move away from land development as the sole economic driver. I support development that reduces dependency on limited natural resources, and development with an end result that is not land speculation.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
I will continue to support MPD’s programs that foster accountability. Programs that include appropriate body camera equipment that should protect public interests, but also protect the safety of our law enforcement personnel.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
I think the county’s ethics and financial disclosure laws are sufficient. As far as lobbying, I would support a citizens’ panel to discuss and come up with recommendations on a state level.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
I am open to reducing fees for access when it is in the public interest, with appropriate safeguards from abuse.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I will continue to hold meetings with community organizations. I will also look to hold more informal small gatherings for interested groups, as I have done in our Lanai community.
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 to start doing more engineering work. It is important to identify roads, water, sewers for possible relocation and doing financial analysis for cost. I would continue to push the state to be stronger in its responsibilities to address those areas, which they are required by the state constitution to perform.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The most pressing issue facing Lanai is employment and housing. I am pushing for entrepreneurship programs, acquisition of land designated for agricultural use by Lanai farmers, and a certified community commercial kitchen. I am open to working with anyone interested in innovative housing projects on Lanai, such as tiny homes, to bring it into more affordability and allow Lanai residents to build up equity.