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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 3 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 Wally Nishimura, one of 14 candidates for seven positions on the Kauai County Council. Other candidates include Jade Battad, Addison Bulosan, Bernard Carvalho, Mason Chock, Felicia Cowden, Mike Dandurand, Billy DeCosta, Luke Evslin, Richard Fukushima, Ed Justus, Arryl Kaneshiro, KipuKai Kuali’i and Shirley Simbre-Medeiros.
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?
We need to diversify our economy through farming and technology. The visitor industry can be brought back right away at ceiling maximum. The government should coordinate with lodging to only fill 50% of rooms until a treatment and testing are firmly established.
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?
All governmental travel expenses should be cut and virtual attendance to meetings, conferences, etc., should be arranged. All new government positions should be frozen with the exception of first responders.
We can continue what Mayor Kawakami charged tourists to visit our beaches prior to the shutdown. A fee for vehicles to park and persons who enter beaches would provide a new revenue source for our county.
3. What would you have done differently to handle the coronavirus crisis on Kauai?
I would have only isolated the vulnerable, which includes kupuna and the immuno-compromised. I also would have kept the process for our hospitals with screenings, restricting visitation, etc.
4. Homelessness remains a problem statewide, including on Kauai. What would you do to come to grips on this persistent problem?
We need to support our current affordable housing initiative and look to new opportunities. I would advocate on the state/county level for the funding and resources needed to accommodate the underserved populations on Kauai including mental health and substance abuse rehabilitation. Also supporting private/public partnerships for employment services and jobs needed to facilitate the long-term success of those placed in housing.
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 Kauai County? What should be done to improve policing and police accountability on Kauai? Should oversight of the police department be strengthened or reformed?
Kauai does not have the same issues as other parts of our country do. I support our local police officers 100%.
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?
No, I do not agree with this decision. From the county level I can share information I know with my constituents in a timely manner and push for my colleagues on all levels to do the same. This requires cooperation and collaboration within the county from the top down. Transparency is key when keeping the public informed, safe, and involved in order to facilitate understanding and cooperation.
7. What more should Kauai County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
We need to start to move our infrastructure mauka. We also need to invest in curbside recycling and alternative waste management.
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 have 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.
We need to get back to our farming roots. I envision hemp as the game changer in Hawaii. The hemp farms would have housing for its employees so that the money they make can be saved for the future.
Improvements in technology will allow the enhancement and expansion of agriculture on Kauai and throughout Hawaii. Continuing partnerships between farmers and the DOE (Department of Education), and the expansion of the use of community-supported agricultural boxes in our communities will significantly increase revenues for the state, county and local businesses.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Infrastructure. I would support moving our roads and utilities mauka using our current budget.