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 Galen Kerfoot, candidate for Honolulu City Council District 1 representing Ewa, Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha, Keaau and Makua. The other candidates are Kathy Davenport, Naomi Hanohano, Anthony Paris and Andria Tupola.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Candidate for Honolulu City Council District 1

Galen Kerfott
Party Nonpartisan
Age 54
Occupation Retired small businessman
Residence Makakilo

Community organizations/prior offices held

None provided.

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?

Instead of creating new interests, the city and the state keep condemning or closing tourist attractions. Natatorium, Haiku Stairs, Sacred Falls closed.

If we are to bring tourism back we have to be innovative and work with hotels to create new attractions. It’s time for legalized gambling. That is one of the few ways where tourist here will drop even more money and others come. Existing hotels can remodel, creating new images for the casinos and the hotel gets an upgraded new look.

Indian reservations bring in millions for the state. If not the hotels then Native Hawaiians should have the right to open casinos on Hawaiian Homelands like the Indians and Eskimos.

Regarding diversification:

• Aquaculture: The oceans are running out of fish. Hawaii can raise them either in aqua farms or ocean tanks. We did the Kahuku shrimp farms and let that collapse.

• Agriculture: Our climate is so diverse on each island that we could start fruit orchards as each fruit requires different growing conditions.

• Ecotourism: Open hiking trails, reopen the Haiku Stairs and charge maybe $5, stop closing them. Look at how many take the walk up the Makapuu Lighthouse road.

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?

Cuts will have to come from the government side. Approximately 25% of the population works for the government. That is totally out of line and unsustainable. So our government must start cutting back perhaps 5% each year. If our government does its job like it should then jobs lost in government can be filled and replaced by jobs in the private sectors. You would have an economy that is growing, not retracting.

Areas of new revenue:

• Gambling: This brings in money without even having to tax or ask for more. It always grabs that last dollar. It creates new positions in all the hotels to work in the Casinos. At the same time hotels would all do additional construction, remodeling jobs for the casinos. At same time allow it on larger floating ships anchored off shore.

• Legalize marijuana: Cities and states are making more money now without imposing taxes on their people, instead people are just giving their money up freely. It’s win-win.

One reason we fail is that we do not lead, we criticize others over and over. We must be imaginative, not destructive.

3. What would you have done differently to handle the coronavirus crisis on Oahu?

There should have been a complete lockdown and stay-in-place implemented for everyone. Wearing of masks should have been recommend from day one. The public should have been better informed and not get piecemeal information.

The state should have a provision on the books that the minute such event occurs it would automatically prevent hoarding, which creates panic. Hoarding needs to stopped. Our government did absolutely nothing, limits were implemented by the stores themselves.

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?

Community input needs to be heard, not just a two-minute blurb in front of a committee, then told, “Thank you for your testimony, next.” It’s for show. The committee or council already know how they are going to vote. And they just put people through the motions to say there was input.

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?

Before one single rail was laid all factors should have been taken into account and settled. Instead the city just went ahead. When it was over-budget the council gave more money twice. The council never demanded cutbacks such as fewer stations, one-sided terminals instead of both sides, and the elimination of station column artwork.

When it got out of hand it should have been immediately stopped. This mentality of we started so we must finish it is totally out of line. They are spending our money for projects that are developer-driven or government officials with a conflict of interest. Our schools needs repairs and AC, our roads are terrible yet they take $10 billion to build a rail. Our people need help now for housing, shelter, food and medical services.

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?

This and previous administrations haven’t really done a thing about dealing with the homeless. All they do is bandage problems and never solve them. Just keep pushing them aside and hope it goes away.

Hello, it’s not and its getting bigger. What people see in tents in the park is only a small portion of the others who sleep in their cars at parks, etc. those that sleep in storage facilities.

We need to enforce our laws, not their rights. But you cannot just keep having them move, then we will never solve anything. The sit-lie ban is ridiculous. Again,  another bandage remedy.

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?

Hawaii has a more diverse population. We are perhaps a little more tolerant. Also keep in mind that the protests are ignited by outsiders, not the original protestors.

As for the police killing the victim, we all know that eventually as each year goes by that the policeman begins to develop a God complex. They become just like a fraternity or sorority backing one another up even if wrong. We give them too much power and even the justice system backs them up so there is no justice. That’s why people riot.

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?

First, rail is not going to solve the problem.

Second, all the city does year after year is add another lane to the freeway. The lanes are becoming so narrow they are on the verge of being dangerous. The city takes away valuable streets that are heavily used and instead takes a lane away and builds a bike lane. That lane could have been built on the next street up. Not the main road.

What should be done and should have been done: We need more routes, new additional roads as avenues of exodus. Work with the military in a joint project: Directly in the back of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam from the dock you see right on the other side Iroquis Point (Ewa Beach). By constructing a tunnel you immediately cut traffic on the H-I in half. Cut down travel time by half. It creates an additional route and exit instead of funneling everyone onto H-I. Hawaii has a bad habit of building roads as one way in, one way out. In order to get into Honolulu we are forced to go out of our natural way, then go back. Worse, you take seven lanes and converge to three or four?

The roads are already in place. This should have been done before the rail.

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?

I totally disagree. The Sunshine Law was to make sure secret deals and meetings were not being withheld from the general public. The use of executive powers must be revisited. Our officials use every tactic or excuse to avoid what is mandated. This is done once, then it is done again and again, all under the guise of executive power or in the public’s interest.

A type of public record library should be opened. Not going to a department and then being told you need a reason or be related to someone in order to see what was deemed public.

10. What more should Honolulu be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?

Don’t fool with Mother Nature. It was said in the past and it is every bit true today. You cannot build retainer walls to deflect. All that does is move the problem from one place to another. We cannot refreeze what we have caused and lost. The climate change causes the poles to melt, causing the waters to rise.

We must not allow any future developments to be close to the water’s edge. This should be basic common sense simply by seeing effects of a tsunami, especially the huge one in Japan years ago. Who would have known it would go that far inland? You can’t and they couldn’t prepare for it and it would be totally ridiculous to even try because it’s a freak occurrence. It happens, it happens, we rebuild. Nothing is guaranteed.

11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?

In District 1 (Leeward Oahu), the most pressing issue is affordable housing. Not like the supposedly affordable housing in Kakaako. We need affordable, $100,000 sales price after construction. We don’t have to keep building homes starting at $350,000 up to $1 million. Build simple homes, basic start-up homes.

Then if the individual wants he can add on at his own expense or sell and work his way up. Developers do not need to build marina homes, etc. That is not for locals, that is for investors or the affluent. We need basic homes for our people and all the people in the other districts as well.