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Vice-chair, Hana Community Association; Kupuna Kare volunteer; Project Hoomana supporter and volunteer, helping distribute food to community; member, Hawaii Farmers Union-Hana Chapter.
1. Hawaii’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?
Continue to rely on tourism? I believe that we need to think outside of the box and look at other sources. Agriculture will be making a larger impact. Placing workers back into the workforce will be challenging but completely possible. Tourism plays a big part in Hawaii’s economy yet we will need to have a good screening process in order to open up Hawaii once more.
2. As the economy struggles, the county 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?
First I would have not voted for a staff salary increase. It was inappropriate while a large part of our community remains unemployed. It would be less impactful if we did small increases across the board. Luckily we already have Maui County and have land tax, gas and vehicle tax that is strictly for Maui County, which secures funds.
3. What would you have done differently to handle the corona virus crisis on Maui?
If we had done the shutdown earlier, but this is not finger-pointing. I want to be clear that no one was prepared for the coronavirus and plans had to be made as it came apparent that it had come to Hawaii.
4. Homelessness remains a problem statewide, including on Maui. What would you do to come to grips with this persistent problem?
There has been a proactive approach recently on Maui with setting up tiny homes in the Wailuku area. This will help several people.
However, being familiar with some of our homeless population, some of them refuse to get out of their situation and prefer to shelter in place. It would be the hope of setting up more homes for those who would want to be in a home.
Oahu has a rotating shelter which seems to be working quite well.
5. 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. Do you see this issue as a problem in Maui County? What should be done to improve policing and police accountability on Maui? should oversight of the police department be strengthened or reformed?
I don’t. Maui County has been short-staffed for a while now. Enrollment has been a challenge. I don’t judge MPD as a whole.
Everyone is accountable including the officer who made bad choices. I have always been supportive of community involvement to have that relationship with the public. Definitely strengthened, not reformed.
6. 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?
At the time it was suspended, yes, we did the same here on Maui. It is of high concern to me that testimony and open meetings are extremely limited and affects our sector of the community that has no or limited access to technology to be involved in meetings as they wish.
7. What more should Maui County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Addressing the infrastructure would be a large part of our county issues. We are outdated and actively facing the threat of damaged roadways and sewage overflows into our ocean. Working with our state and federal governments once more to do improvements to save our reefs and ocean life.
8. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
It was apparent that Hawaii had numerous flaws in our systems that were not discovered till the floodgates opened to something most of us had not experienced in our lifetime. I commend those who stepped up to the plate to get it resolved.
I would hope to develop more community farms that are on government lands, where we can strive to be more sustainable with food. We may be far from opening up Hawaii fully. Tourism was our top industry and with many losing their jobs we need to support aid and at the same time create food sources where the community can participate.
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