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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 Arthur Brun, a candidate for Kauai County Council. There are 13 other candidates, including Kanoe Ahuna, Juno Ann Apalla, Mason Chock, Felicia Cowden, Billy DeCosta, Norma Doctor Sparks, Luke Evslin, Shaylene Iseri, Ross Kagawa, Arryl Kaneshiro, Kipukai Kuali’i, Adam Roversi 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?
Yes, I believe we have to look at further restricting development in areas prone to flooding and consider the effects of climate change in areas where homes already exist in low-lying areas. We have to take lessons learned from the recent flooding on Kauai and Oahu and use them to look at changes to zoning and building codes going forward.
2. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
I believe the council is managed well. The public is always afforded the opportunity for input and for the most part the dialogue is respectful and productive. The hearings on the General Plan Update are a good example of the council offering ample opportunity to provide input on important matters.
3. Kauai County recently implemented a 0.5 percent GET surcharge for public transportation. Do you support this decision? Why or why not?
I voted for the GET surcharge because I feel that, with the reduction of our share of the TAT, this was the best option to address the critical need to keep our infrastructure in adequate repair. With the GET, our visitors share in contributing, unlike other options at the county level that are shouldered by residents only. The important part now is to be sure the administration is accountable for using the monies in good faith and making sure the improvements are accomplished in a timely manner.
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?
I believe on Kauai we’ve done a good job over the years balancing these interests. The General Plan Update that was adopted earlier this year was a multiyear process of having this conversation throughout our community. I believe our General Plan, if we follow it, will help us be successful in managing growth without sacrificing our natural resources or our quality of life.
5. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
The Kauai Police Department recently completed the accreditation process, and this was a huge accomplishment. KPD was also the first in the state to adopt body cams as standard equipment for officers. The County Council does not supervise the department or the chief, however, we have confidence in the Kauai Police Commission to insure that accountability is always a priority.
We are in the process of finding a new chief, and hopefully he will continue the good work that is already in motion at KPD. As a council member, I will always support providing the tools to KPD that they need to keep our community safe while also holding themselves to the highest standards of conduct.
6. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
We need to make sure that lobbying and financial disclosure laws at the state and local level are enforced consistently and systematically. We also need to make sure that the citizens who sit on our ethics commission are well-trained and well-supported with the information and tools they need to do their job properly.
7. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
8. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I try to be out in the community at events and public meetings as much as possible. It takes an individual commitment from each public official to make themselves available. I receive calls and emails all the time from constituents and I take the time to respond to each one. We may not always agree on the issue or question, but I personally feel strongly that they deserve a response. That’s my personal philosophy and I will always work hard to make sure I’m accessible to the people of Kauai.
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?
We need to be very mindful of all future development – using the latest information available on the potential impacts of climate change before making decisions. Where needed, our zoning ordinances and building codes should be updated to reflect the threats that are on the horizon. On the council, we need to be open to any legislative changes needed or budgetary items that will help us prepare in this area.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Lack of affordable housing is at the top of my priority list. As the chair of the council committee that oversees housing, I have been very active on these matters over the past 18 months. One of my first initiatives as a council member was to co-sponsor an Island-Wide Additional Rental Unit (ARU) bill which was passed by the council. It allows the owner of every single-family residential dwelling unit that has adequate infrastructure to construct an ARU to provide for the housing needs of their own families.
I was also very involved in the effort to petition the state Land Use Commission for the reclassification of the Lima Ola affordable housing project in ‘Ele’ele as the county’s first approved 201H project. This assures the project will be 100 percent affordable and streamlines the process so that we can get units built much more quickly. When our families don’t have a safe place to live, it leads to so many other challenges and issues in our community. I’ll continue to fight for more and faster affordable housing options if re-elected.