Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary 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 Paul Mossman, candidate for Honolulu City Council District 3 representing Ahuimanu, Heeia, Haiku, Kaneohe, Maunawili, Kailua, Olomana, Enchanted Lake and Waimanalo. The other candidates are Kalani Kalima, Warland Kealoha, Esther Kia’āina, Alan Texeira and Greg Thielen.
1. Oahu’s economy has been hard hit with the outbreak of the coronavirus and measures to prevent its spread, mainly because of the collapse of the tourism industry. Should we continue to rely largely on the visitor industry for economic vitality? What concrete steps would you take to bring tourism back? What else would you do to diversify the island’s economy?
Visitors are ready to come back. An Abbott Lab form or equivalent fast test within 72 hours before boarding the aircraft is the most coherent proposal, at this point.
Diversification takes a business-friendly environment, low-cost abundant energy, a commitment to innovation along with a determination to lower the cost of living wherever and whenever possible.
2. As the economy struggles, the city may have to cut expenses and seek new revenue sources. What would you cut? And what is an area where you see potential new revenue?
Cut wherever possible? New revenue requires diversification and a forward-looking commitment in many different areas.
3. What would you have done differently to handle the coronavirus crisis on Oahu?
It was overdone, but that is a receding issue.
4. Oahu residents, government officials and developers have often been split over efforts to build new projects like renewable energy facilities, recreational complexes or even affordable housing. What would you do to make sure important projects are successful while respecting community input and concerns?
Oahu, because of the city and county system, has far less actual representation than similar-sized counties on the mainland. The needs of urban Honolulu have taken the central role in planning and other communities have little actual voice in their future.
5. How should the city pay for the operation and maintenance of rail once it’s built? Do project plans or financing plans need to be changed as the economy struggles in the wake of the pandemic?
One-hundred-million dollars a year for projected rail operation cost just about matches the $111 million a year in lower electricity cost forfeited when the NextEra purchase of HECO was rejected in 2016.
As well, the rail project is a classic example of an urban Honolulu project that has no cross-over impact for much of Oahu. I must first consider the future of the 115,000 people in District 3 and how that is best served.
6. Homelessness remains a problem on Oahu. What would you do differently from what the current leadership is doing? Do you support the enforcement of laws targeted at unsheltered homeless people such as the sit-lie ban? Why or why not?
There are still large areas of unoccupied land on Oahu in many places outside of urban Honolulu. The short-term solution (one to 20 years) is prefabricated modular housing (trailers) and trailer parks. Nothing can beat the $20,000 cost of a budget single-wide trailer and the actual human dignity of having a real home.
Once adequate shelter is established, street-camping must end. Cheap fast housing is the only way to solve Oahu’s homeless problem in a just and expedient manner for all.
(There are other routes for effective housing for the working homeless and the general population moving forward.)
7. Recent deaths of citizens at the hands of police are igniting protests and calls for reform across the country, primarily aimed at preventing discrimination against people of color. What should be done to improve policing and police accountability in Honolulu? Should oversight of the police department be strengthened or reformed?
As horrible as the killing of George Floyd was, so was the killing of HPD officers on the slopes of Diamond Head.
There is no one- or two-line response on the issues this brings up. The questions of peace, prosperity and societal tranquility is one where everyone of good faith and aloha needs to discuss and not cuss.
8. Honolulu has some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. Some see rail as part of the solution. What else should the city do to alleviate congestion?
I am watching the development of driverless vehicles and hope for the development of an integrated traffic control system (which would have been part of a bus rapid transit system, but that possibility has been lost for now.)
9. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Gov. David Ige suspended the open government laws under an emergency order during the pandemic. Do you agree or disagree with his action? What would you do to ensure the public has access to open meetings and public records in a timely fashion?
Obey the law.
10. What more should Honolulu be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Hawaii is a tiny community compared to the massive numbers and economies of the rest of the world. We can do nothing about climate change. Passing laws to that effect is just pretense.
But we can be best prepared for any eventuality the future holds by having the most responsive government, the most dynamic economy, and the cleanest and most prosperous society possible.
11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Waimanalo needs low-cost prefabricated housing to get homeless off the beach and the side of the highway.
We need a commitment to research and develop agricultural methods along with land use cost and policy to make farming part of a financially rewarding alternative for families and businesses.
Kailua and Kaneohe need to control their destiny and be empowered to be more than just suburbs of urban Honolulu.
There is tremendous potential for the Windward side that requires local input and planning to make it more prosperous and the lifestyle of its residents more satisfying.