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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 Rick Nava, a candidate for Maui County Council (West Maui). The other candidate is Tamara Paltin.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
I would like to see that the council members be voted for by the people of their district and not the entire County of Maui
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 believe that additional surcharge should not be imposed. It is already very expensive as it is to live on Maui. Any more surcharge or tax to the hard-working people of Maui will make it ever tougher to live on the island.
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 believe that we have more than enough hotels and condos here on Maui. What we need to build are affordable housing and affordable rentals.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
When I served as a police commissioner from 1995 to 2000, I actually suggested that the Police Commission should have its monthly meeting where the public can come in and be a part of it. Further, I would like to see body cameras as part of every police officer’s uniform.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
Since I am not very familiar with the system, one step I would love to see be implemented is to have a list of all lobbyists be made public and the entity they represent. Further, all lobbyists should submit an annual financial disclosure that will include their tax return.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes. I truly believe that building trust in government and elected officials is very important and it starts with transparency and accountability.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
As noted on my campaign material, the No. 1 thing that I would do is to build trust in government and elected officials. If elected, I want to be sure that the people know who I am and that I am accessible to all. As I doing right now, wherever I go, I wear a name tag with my name on it and below my name is Candidate – Maui County Council. If elected, I will continue to wear a name tag; this time it will say Council Member– Maui County.
I also plan to have a quarterly meeting with the people of West Maui.
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?
Here on Maui, the big problem that we have is beach erosion. As a former president of the West Maui Taxpayers Association I have been educating myself and working closely with the county and condo owners and homeowners of Kahana to find the best solution to prevent further beach erosion and jeopardizing beachfront properties.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Our most pressing issue on West Maui is the lack of affordable/workforce housing and affordable rentals. If elected, I plan to:
• Work closely with home builders (will refrain from using the name developer since it sends a negative connotation to people) to help with impact fees and infrastructure. We need to make it truly affordable to homebuyers. The faster we can build homes, the faster the county will have its investment back through the property tax that will be paid by the homeowners.
• Continue the program of helping first-time home buyers with their down payment.
• Look at why it takes a long time for home builders to receive approval on their development and look to streamline the permitting process. Once again, the faster we get the homes done, the better for all.
• Enforce and penalize people who are abusing short-term rentals.