- Special Projects
Editor’s note: 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 Kelly King, a candidate for Maui County Council (South Maui). There is one other candidate, Zandra Crouse.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
Yes, we need to revamp the budget approval process to be more collaborative and transparent; also, committees need to be assigned to council members according to experience, not political alliances.
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?
Yes, Maui County should implement this surcharge and spend it on the three major road projects: realignment of Honoapiilani Highway, completion of Paia bypass and the North-South Collector Road in Kihei. This was recommended by the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization, but never taken up by the council.
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?
New development projects should be primarily affordable housing at this time, but we also need to make sure it is not putting an undo infrastructure hardship on existing communities. It’s very important that any new project be supported by the surrounding community.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
I hope to work more closely with the next administration to address strategic planning for all departments so that they have benchmarks that drive the budget and that the council can hold them to!
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
I believe the above question refers to the state Legislature, but I have been working toward more transparency at the county level in my first term. My charter amendment proposal for a more autonomous managing director would also address these issues.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Yes, within reason!
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I feel I have been addressing this through my office by meeting with all parties who make requests; often, I reach out to my respective constituents on relevant issues to proactively inform them and this has had great results for the Kihei Community Association especially.
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 first need to adopt, then publicize, the Climate Change Adaptation Report, which I am working on in my Planning Committee agenda. I’m hoping this issue is added as a committee duty to the next slate of committees for the 2019 council and will work toward that. Also, I’m supporting a charter amendment to create an Office of Climate Change and Sustainability as long as we can remove duplicative efforts from a previous charter amendment that were not supported by our current mayor, who did nothing to enforce or create a true effort to address the climate or conservation issues.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Affordable housing and homelessness are probably just ahead of drainage issues for South Maui. I have been proactively working with developers of affordable housing to make sure their projects fit the neighborhoods they are designated for, and I have also started community meetings to give input to Ka Hale A Ke Ola (Maui’s premier homeless non-profit organization) once I found out that they actually have over $1.5 million in workforce housing funds that need to be spent in South Maui. This fund has been sitting around for about a decade until I started efforts to use it to create a homeless resource center/emergency shelter facility in Kihei, which currently has no direct services other than the volunteer kindness acts of some very concerned citizens.