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 Stacy Helm Crivello, a candidate for Maui County Council (Molokai). The other candidate is Keani Rawlins-Fernandez.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
I am serving my third term and at this time, I don’t recognize the need for changes. Nine members are elected at large and are representative of nine districts throughout Maui County. Eight members serve as chairs for eight committees: Planning Committee; Parks & Recreation and Legal; Budget and Finance; Infrastructure and Environmental; Policy, Economic and Agriculture; Water Resources; Housing & Human Concerns; and Transportation; Land Use and one of the nine council members serves as council chair. As policymakers, the council reflects membership and participation in eight different committees. Council’s primary responsibility, in my opinion, is to balance the yearly budget; The County of Maui throughout its fiscal years have received high ratings and performed balanced budgets.
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?
GET surcharge is a state tax and the authorization from the Legislature is to utilize a 0.5 percent GET surcharge for transportation and infrastructure needs. Real property tax is the county’s jurisdiction. If the state would allocate Maui County its equitable TAT share, then the county does not need to tax our residents with GET.
However, if it does come before the Council to tax the GET, I would recommend exemption to food and prescription. And assign the GET earnings to transportation and infrastructure and affordable housing funds. It is my understanding the Legislature may restrict the GET to transportation like with the City and County of Honolulu. And, like the City and County of Honolulu, the county will request reauthorization.
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?
The existing developments of hotels and resorts provide a huge economic engine for Maui. I don’t know of new developments. The competing developments are short term rentals. I will continue supporting meeting Maui County’s environmental needs and protect our resources by limiting development on our shorelines. I support watershed projects that provide water resources for many generations. Because of beach erosions and disappearances of our shorelines, Maui will need to have new policies in place to further the existing shoreline setbacks.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
The police department is accountable through policies. Maui County’s Police Department exemplifies community involvement and participation. To me, when your PD and community organizations partner to build a healthier community through youth programs and other community efforts, there is a stronger “face” to be accountable to the residents.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
Penalize with a substantial penalty for not reporting according to lobbying laws; every county jurisdiction should be allowed to set policies with reference to ethics and financial disclosures and set a paid entity to review ethics complaints.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes, if the request is in the public interest, then I will support elimination of the said high fees.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
As a County Council member, I am close to the beat of my community’s pulse; as an elected official we go into our districts to listen to community. Constituents send emails and have access to our offices. Depending on the demographics, and issues, voters do not always pay attention to legislation and issues that may impose on their area of concerns.
Maui County pays the public TV station, AKAKU, to televised deliberations of committee and council. I send newsletters to my district. I would first ask, what is the concern or concerns that their elected officials are not listening to? The Maui County Budget Committee also sends surveys to note priorities and concerns.
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?
No more development along the shorelines. Continue to support reduction of greenhouse emission; continue to support renewable energy; protect mauka to makai. Reforestation to eliminate soil sediments and silt from entering into the ocean that damage our reefs; eradication of invasive species; protect flowing of streams to allow marine life to grow in the ocean; global warming is bleaching our reefs; reforest the reefs with limu (algae);
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Though I serve all of Maui County, my district residency is Molokai. Molokai’s economic situation is our challenge. One of Molokai’s major employers closed and we have approximately 80 displaced workers. There are no other suitable paying jobs available. I am supportive of creating entrepreneurship programs as well as training by budgeting funding for an office of economic development (Molokai’s Kuhao Business Center) on Molokai; farming can be a diverse interest if people can receive capital investments to develop farm produce.
With farm production, we will need a facility to produce value-added products. Value-added products would eliminate the high cost of transporting products. Part of the problem is that we are in need of “growing farmers” too. Molokai can also be an educational hub for protection of our cultural and natural resources. Part of work includes seeking financial resources to infuse into our island’s economy.