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 Alana Kay, candidate for Maui County mayor. The other candidates are Cullan Bell, Richard Bissen, Kim Brown, Jonah Lion, Mike Molina, Kelly King and Mike Victorino.

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

Candidate for Maui County Mayor

Alana Kay
Party Nonpartisan
Age 62
Occupation Author/publisher
Residence Makawao


Community organizations/prior offices held

Girl Scouts; Junior Achievement; Underground Switchboard/Crisis Line.

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

The biggest issue facing Maui County is our eco-system. We need to implement integrated water resource management and we need an up-to-date waste processing facility that turns our waste into energy. We need an administration that understands island hydrology (the way the water flows) and everything we do needs to be done in harmony with it.

We need to engage more heavily in green building and green construction, using eco-friendly materials and best practices.

2. In the last two years alone, the median sales price of a Maui home has shot up almost $400,000, driven by a surge of out-of-state buyers during the pandemic. What can the county do to ensure that families aren’t priced out?

Create a 10-year plan to shift our economy from a tourism-based economy to an agriculturally based economy. All other tourism-based economies in the world have the same problem — it drives the value of properties so high that the workforce cannot afford to live there.

Maui has many other strengths, especially agriculture and value-added ag products. We also need to look on workforce development in the areas of municipal planning, sustainability, tech and so on.

3. In recent years, there has been a significant push to reform law enforcement and beef up oversight of police. What would you do specifically to increase oversight of local law enforcement? Are you satisfied with the Maui Police Department and the Maui Police Commission?

I am not satisfied with the Maui Police Department and the Maui Police Commission. I have been an observer and do not believe they are as responsive to the community as they should be and many sources, including my own observations, tell me there is a great deal of corruption.

Perhaps the solution would be to have the community and the Police Department engage in town hall meetings.

4. The Maui County Council recently passed a temporary moratorium on the construction of new hotels and other visitor accommodations and will over the next several months decide whether to make it permanent. Do you support capping the number of hotels and visitor lodgings on Maui? Why or why not?

I believe we need to have a temporary moratorium on building in the South Maui area, period. The excessive flooding is the result of overbuilding on wetlands and mauka of the Piilani Highway. Water in South Maui is diverted from Na Wai Eha, creating a strain on our water supply. Until we find ways to use our water with respect to the eco-system, we should not continue to build.

And yes, a temporary moratorium on visitor accommodations is wise considering all of the issues over-tourism is causing at this time.

5. Do you feel the governor and Legislature appreciate the issues of Maui County, or are they too focused on Honolulu and Oahu? How would you change that?

I don’t have an opinion on this.

6. Do you think the county of Maui should do more to manage water resources that were long controlled by plantations? Why or why not?

This is an area that is seriously neglected, especially with respect to the I’ao Aquifer. The state of Hawaii designated this watershed in 2003 because Maui County was not taking proper care of it. Now, nobody is taking care of it.

If we implement integrated water resource management, we should negotiate a purchase or condemn and purchase the private water utilities.

7. Climate change is real and will force us to make tough decisions. What is the first thing Maui County should do to get in front of climate change rather than just reacting to it? 

I’m not sure we can do anything about climate change, but we seriously need to stop blaming our problems on it. Maui County government and residents are damaging our ecosystem and we need to address it at a local level.

8. It’s estimated that up to a thousand people might be homeless on Maui on any given day. What do you think needs to be changed to help people get into housing, and stay housed?

I am sure the number is much higher than 1,000! The reasons for homelessness and the definitions are varied. There are long-term and short-term solutions. The solutions are complex because they involve every aspect of human life and psychology.

The thing that would help would be creating task forces or organizations that really examine the needs and solutions. I have attended some and am not satisfied with their analysis.

Diversification of the economy is the long-term solution. Short-term solutions include: workforce housing kept in perpetuity, security deposit assistance, more apartments and safe parking lots.

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

We need to focus on greatly improving our public transportation. I would certainly use it if it was more user-friendly. We need better bus shelters with more frequent stops. The bus needs to begin earlier and run later. It may take a minute for people to catch on, but if it was more user-friendly, then people would be more likely to use it.

Instead of disallowing luggage, what about having an area for luggage?

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 Maui County. Be innovative, but be specific.

We need to think like an island. The supposed pandemic indeed revealed flaws in our status quo.

I have often said, “What would happen if the planes stopped coming?” If we think like an island, we respect the fact that we are in the middle of the ocean and should be as self-sufficient as possible. We need food security and we need to have an economy that honors the eco-system and creates an environment where the residents may thrive and prosper.

Instead of living every person for himself, we need to recognize that we are in this together and we all need to contribute to the health and security of our island(s). We can’t wait for government to take care of things.

Help Power Local, Nonprofit News.

Across the nation and in Hawaii, news organizations are downsizing and closing their doors due to the ever-rising costs of keeping local journalism alive and well.

While Civil Beat has grown year over year, still only 1% of our readers are donors, and we need your help now more than ever.

Make a gift today of any amount, and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,500, thanks to a generous group of Civil Beat donors.