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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 Alice Lee, a candidate for Maui County Council (Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu). There is one other candidate, Alika Atay.
1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?
There are many changes needed on the County Council, first and foremost is the need for collaboration, cooperation, professionalism and prioritization. There are just too many serious issues facing Maui County today. The dysfunction on the council needs to be replaced with thoughtful, deliberative and a willingness to work together for the common good which often means learning how to compromise in the spirit of lokahi, harmony and balance.
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?
We need a lot more than a 0.5 % GET surcharge to pay for the massive infrastructure costs we have to pay. The Legislature should return our fair share of the TAT; additionally, we need to find ways to increase our revenue base and stream exponentially. A legalized lottery should be allowed.
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?
You balance competing interests through prioritization and partnerships and by, again, increasing your revenue base so that all concerns are able to be addressed and given the proper attention they deserve. Right now, according to the people, we have an affordable housing crisis.
4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?
I would have to identify the major problems, ascertain the facts, speak with the administration and union, assess current resources, work with all the pertinent parties to find common ground and come up with recommendations as the council is the legislative body of the county and cannot interfere with administrative operations. From my experience, a lack of accountability in any department can be resolved with clear and consistent directions, impartial protocols and procedures and lots and lots of training.
5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?
This is a state matter. On the county level, we can advocate for more transparency. As a candidate for office 20 years ago and now, I can assure you that the laws, rules and regulations are much stricter and the reporting requirements much more stringent today.
6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
Fees are supposed to be based on actual cost. The government should not profit from requests for information.
7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
We work for the people and that is why what we do is called public service. Over time, some elected/appointed officials forget this fact. On the other hand, there are times when the public does not understand that our authority over many things is quite limited.
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 need to re-evaluate our building codes and land use policies regarding these existential threats to our environment and coastal lands.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
A serious lack of affordable housing is the most pressing issue. We need 14,000 new homes by the year 2025 and we produce around 300 a year. This is a very complex problem. We need a new water source, which some council members would like to force private developers to provide. Overregulation is the main culprit but too many people are in denial regardless of the fact that time and a serious lack of production has proved them wrong. Where there’s a will there is water and housing. I most definitely have the will.