Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 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 Mitch McPeek, candidate for Kauai County mayor. The other candidates are Megeso-William Denis, Derek Kawakami and Michael Roven Poai.

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

Candidate for Kauai Mayor

Mitch McPeek
Party Nonpartisan
Age 61
Occupation Self-employed maintenance/handyman/contractor
Residence Kilauea

1. What is the biggest issue facing Kauai County, and what would you do about it?

One of the biggest issues on kauai is housing. Affordable housing and literally the lack of physical homes to move into.

We need to create more houses that are affordable for our keiki who are born and raised here and not encourage foreigners and mega-wealthy from moving in and taking over. There are a number of ways to do this. It just takes effort and the guts to do it. Increase supply, reduce the demand. Kauians first above all.

2. In the last four years, Kauai’s north shore has endured two major weather events that have severed entire communities from jobs, schools, pharmacies, banks, doctors and other essential services for many months. Should this change the county’s approach to disaster preparedness, and if so, how?

The county has done a poor job (shall I say, complete negligence) in this area.

The people in the community are always the ones to solve this problem, not the government. The only thing they are good at is taking pictures at the scene of the disaster.

I lived over 35 years on the north shore and have been through many disasters. I know what can be done. Let’s do it now! Alternative roads should be built and tourists kept out of affected areas. That’s a start.

3. There are nearly 14,000 cesspools on Kauai that must be removed by 2050. With an average cost of $15,000 to $30,000 to convert to septic, many homeowners say making the transition is not affordable. How can the county help to jump-start cesspool replacements?

If the state wants this done then the state should pay for it.

4. Traffic is getting worse on the island of Kauai, and different regions face different challenges. What would be your approach to improve Kauai’s transportation problems?

Traffic is a big problem on the island. What works well are bypass roads. The problem is we have rivers and streams where all the traffic bottlenecks.

There is so much overregulation it’s impossible to build a bridge. But there are ways to get around it. Can anyone say Wainiha?

5. Do you feel the governor and Legislature appreciate the issues of your county, or are they too focused on Honolulu and Oahu? 

Oahu could care less about us and we could care less about them. So it’s no surprise we get little concern. We like it that way. So in return, just leave us alone! Let us live and be free.

6. For more than a year the median price for a single-family home on Kauai has topped $1 million. What would you do to help address the deficit of low-income, affordable and middle-class housing?

Affordable housing is discussed in No. 1 above. It’ll take more than 200 words to explain what we can do in this area. Just give me a caring County Council and we can solve this problem.

7. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic winds down, local businesses are struggling to hire and retain workers, which has led to shortages of everything from grocery store cashiers and restaurant workers to teachers and school bus drivers. What, if anything, would you do to address this economic instability?

Quit the government handouts. When free money runs out people go back to work. And stop overregulating businesses and keep them open. No more covid lockdowns. Let the businesses run their business!

It’s real simple. This ain’t rocket science, folks. We can have a thriving economy locally here if the government would just get out the way and let it happen.

8. Kauai’s landfill in Kekaha will soon run out of capacity and there’s still no timely plan in place to build a new one. What can the county council do to address what could become a garbage crisis for the island?

No one wants rubbish in their backyard. I get it. But look how much land we have on Kauai. This can be resolved but everyone wants to play politics and is using this issue for their own political gain.

9. Overtourism can degrade the environment, threaten biodiversity, contribute to wear and tear on infrastructure, generate traffic and disrupt neighborhoods. What more can be done to better manage the island’s tourism sector?

Unfortunately this is America where people have the freedom to come and go. But there are ways to slow down tourism and not lose the money they bring in. What people need to realize is the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing, keeps them from coming here. A hurricane and covid lockdown are the only two things that keep them from coming.

We need to quit publicizing Kauai. First and foremost we need to readjust the belief that we need them. Once we wake up and understand that, then we can make the changes we need. Kauai first, not tourists!

10. 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 Kauai County. Be innovative, but be specific.

People are resilient and geniuses at times. The vision I have for Kauai is one where the people are truly free. Free to raise their families how they want. Free from government interference in every aspect of their lives. Quit telling us what we can’t do! Tell us what we can do! And enable us to do it!

That is the role of government. No unconstitutional mandates and policies! Not here on Kauai. Why are we being overrun by tourists and the mega-wealthy? This is our island and we need to take it back and be good stewards of our aina.

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