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 Adam Roversi, a candidate for Kauai County Council. There are 13 other candidates, including Kanoe Ahuna, Arthur Brun, Mason Chock, Felicia Cowden, Billy DeCosta, Juno Ann Apalla, Luke Evslin, Shaylene Iseri, Ross Kagawa, Arryl Kaneshiro, Kipukai Kuali’i, Norma Doctor Sparks and Milo Spindt.
1. The April flooding demonstrated some homes and infrastructure are particularly vulnerable to heavy rain. Should this change the county’s approach to development, and if so, how?
The county has flood zone and shoreline setback requirements in place to mitigate damage and losses from flooding. Many of the homes damaged during April’s flooding were either constructed before these protections were implemented, or in some instances in violation of these laws. Post-flood, the county should ensure that reconstruction complies with current flood and shoreline requirements. In light of the magnitude of the flooding, it would be wise to reexamine the scope of existing protections to determine if they should be strengthened.
2. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
The majority on the current County Council has enacted rules to limit the debate of its own members. This needs to be re-examined. Beyond these internal rules, there two proposals that should be considered for altering the structure of council: First, a careful consideration of districting. Kauai is the only county in Hawaii with an entirely at-large County Council. The implementation of districts would reduce the cost of campaigning thereby reducing the influence of ￼campaign funders, and may serve to make council members more responsive ￼and in touch with their respective constituents. Second, I would support ￼staggered four-year terms. The council’s current system of two-year terms ￼results in an excessive focus on campaigning and re-election, and results in new ￼members spending much of their two-year term simply learning how to perform ￼their job. ￼
3. Kauai County recently implemented a 0.5 percent GET surcharge for public ￼transportation. Do you support this decision? Why or why not?
I support increased spending on public transportation, but would have preferred ￼that the increased spending had been funded through a combination of fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, and property tax, all of which provide a less regressive ￼base of funding than a GET increase. ￼
4. 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? ￼
One of my primary goals is the amendment of county zoning and land use laws to permit the implementation of “smart growth” principles such as: higher density ￼mixed use development in urban and town centers where public infrastructure ￼already exists; creating walkable and bikeable complete neighborhoods to ￼decrease reliance on driving and reduce traffic congestion; and encouraging a ￼range of housing options beyond single family detached dwellings to increase ￼affordable housing options. This “smart growth” should then be paired with ￼heightened protections for remaining open spaces and agricultural lands. ￼
5. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
￼As deputy county attorney I defeated attempts by the State of Hawaii ￼Organization of Police Officers to delay or limit the implementation and use of ￼body cameras on Kauai, the first county in Hawaii to adopt this technology. In ￼addition to continuing and expanding the use of body cameras, I support ￼providing the Police Commission with increased oversight authority, and would ￼work to do away with the current policy of keeping police officers’ disciplinary ￼records secret. ￼
6. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and ￼financial disclosure laws?
￼The County of Kauai enacted new registration requirements for lobbyists at the ￼county level in July of 2016. Similarly, the County Code of Ethics contains ￼disclosure requirements contains provisions requiring the disclosure financial ￼interests of managing employees, elected officials, and all appointed board ￼members. If actively enforced, I believe these existing requirements and civil fine ￼provisions are sufficient to ensure the ethical functioning of county government. ￼If elected to County Council I would work to ensure adequate enforcement of ￼these provisions.
7. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when ￼the request is in the public interest? ￼
Public records requests are less of an issue for Kauai County then they have ￼become at the state level, and I believe the County’s current $0.10 per page ￼charge for most records is generally reasonable. I nonetheless would ￼preliminarily address the public records request dilemma by making more county ￼documents automatically and readily available electronically on the county’s ￼website. Currently some county departments fail to even make their ￼administrative rules available on the county website. That has to change. ￼
8. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to ￼improve communication?
￼If elected to council I would personally follow an open door policy with my ￼constituents so I always fully understand the problems they face, and am aware ￼of their views on possible solutions. As to the county government writ large, ￼Kauai has an award winning electronic portal at Kauai.gov, but it can continue to ￼be improved and more should be regularly updated so the public has ready and ￼current access to all governmental information.
￼9. What more should Kauai County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate ￼change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs? ￼
With regard to sea level rise, the county should more strictly enforce and ￼perhaps increase current shoreline setback requirements as the first step in ￼developing a strategy of managed retreat. In addition we should work to minimize ￼any new development in vulnerable shoreline areas including the development of ￼public infrastructure. ￼
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do ￼about it?
The most pressing issue on Kauai today is affordable housing. To address this issue Our current one-size-fits all zoning and subdivision laws are structured around building three- to five-bedroom detached single family homes on standalone residential lots. This pattern of development has resulted in residential areas entirely separate from areas of employment, and given us a growing traffic nightmare.
We need to promote a more varied mix of housing options by changes zoning laws and through tax incentives. In addition the county needs to work to upgrade wastewater and drinking water systems in our urban and town centers to enable more housing in already developed areas. I would also vigorously support current county affordable housing project, work to develop addition county owned housing, and enforce long-term affordable and/or workers’ housing requirements for any new market rate developments.