Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 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 Addison Bulosan, candidate for Kauai County Council. The other candidates for seven positions are Bernard Carvalho, Felicia Cowden, Billy DeCosta, Luke Evslin, Fern Holland, Ross Kagawa, KipuKai Kuali’i, Lila Metzger, Nelson Mukai, Mel Rapozo, Roy Saito, Rachel Secretario and Shirley Simbre-Medeiros.

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

Candidate for Kauai County Council

Addison Bulosan
Party Nonpartisan
Age 35
Occupation Chiropractor
Residence Lihue

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

President, Rice Street Business Association; advisory board member, Hawaii Foodbank Kauai; board member, Lihue Business Association; assistant director, Kamawaelualani; past board member, Kauai County Ethics Board; past board member, Hale Opio Kauai; past board member, Junior Achievement Kauai; past board Member, Kauai Chamber of Commerce; past board Member, Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce.

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

The biggest issue facing our island is our outrageous cost of living, with our housing crisis at the top of it all. If elected as a Kauai County Council member, my focus will be to introduce or modify any pre-existing legislation to reduce our cost of living.

The top three burdens are housing, health care and transportation. Tackling housing will be my highest priority with a multi-angled approach. One focus will be on making it more affordable for local families to create additional dwelling units and/or additional rental units on their homes.

This will help slow down the exodus of local working people and generate more affordable ways for families to stay together. This will also help multi-generational families to care for our kupuna and at the same time help create more stability.

Another focus will be toward helping create affordable housing in town core centers. This will help our local working families and kupuna reduce commute challenges and enable better community support. This will help reduce cultural and environmental impacts of sprawling and increasing housing prices on infrastructure needs.

Last but not least, I’ll focus on a property tax structure that reduces the burden on local families and fairly taxes properties that are unused or owned by non-residents.

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 north shore community is one of the most resilient communities in the world. The response by our government and community was heroic and we must utilize the experiences we’ve had to get ahead of the challenges that may come.

Our county must continue to work with community organizations in reducing more collateral damage that occurs during disasters. This includes organizations like Waipa Foundation, Aina Ho’okupa, Malama Kauai, Hawaii Foodbank Kauai, Hanalei Initiative, Hui O’maka’ainana, Hanalei Rotary Club, Hanalei Business Association and more.

Through volunteerism, I have worked with these nonprofits in different capacities in hopes to help empower their work within our community. The nonprofits’ focus are around food security, disaster safety areas, essential health services and transportation. We must continue to allocate appropriate funds to create the necessary disaster preparedness for our North Shore community.

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?

Environmentally this is one of the highest priorities, especially in areas that may be affected by natural disasters that may lead to larger ecological challenges.

Our county administration must continue to work with our state government and implement the grant program that was passed this year. In addition, we must incentivize local homeowners to convert to septic with tax incentives and/or infrastructure incentives to hook up to our sewage system.

Lastly, we must continue to seek federal and private grant programs to assist local homeowners. Acquiring additional financial support from local financial institutions is critical in making this transition as smooth as possible. I am actively supporting several local nonprofits in helping get grants and information to our local people to help with their transition to septic.

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?

In order to improve our transportation problems, we must take a multi-faceted approach. It was obvious to our entire community that traffic instantaneously increased due to visitors. We need to reduce the amount of visitor car travel and have a stronger network of shuttles to reduce overuse of common areas. A great example is the positive effects of the shuttle system in Haena.

In addition, the majority of our traffic starts with the emphasis of people traveling to Lihue. Comprehensive commute studies show that these traffic congestions are because these commutes are for work or for errands coupled with visitor commutes. We must reduce traffic congestion by enabling more working families to be able to live closer to their jobs. By reducing commute distance, we enable working families to live, work and play in their town core centers.

Lastly, we must increase multi-modal transportation within town core centers to reduce the need for car transportation. This will reduce parking usage and create healthier, walkable towns.

I do not support adding more roads to build more capacity for car transportation. This trend is seen around the world and it is clear that the more roads we build, more cars will come.

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

Our Kauai legislators have proven to be dedicated to the needs of Kauai. I can’t thank them enough for sticking up for Kauai in our state and federal government. Unfortunately their colleagues may oftentimes ignore the needs of our community and it’s important for us to continue to work with our representatives.

Our Kauai legislators must continue to stay connected with our local community and the unique ways we resolve our community challenges. With that said, hindsight always allows us to see more opportunities. If elected as a council member, I hope to work tirelessly with our state and federal elected members to continue to improve our ways to help our community.

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?

Our housing crisis has been ongoing for over 20 years now. The combination of the decline of home creation and the rising demand for Kauai homes by out-of-state buyers has made Kauai one of the most expensive places to live. If elected, I’m hyper-committed to addressing our housing.

With that said, we must immediately reverse our decline in home creation and discourage the demand for out-of-state home ownership.

We must start with supporting our local community now. My focus would be to help local families build on their own property by creating incentives and reducing the financial barriers for additional dwelling units and rental units.

Another solution is to create infrastructure incentives for affordable homes and fast-tracking the permitting process for these homes in town core centers. This will enable new affordable homes in areas closer to work spaces.

Last but not least, we must create equity within our property tax system by appropriately taxing unused and nonresident-owned property and directing that additional tax revenue toward affordable housing.

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?

The economic instability is directly due to cost-of-living, specifically our housing crisis.

If the average local worker has to commute for work every day, that’s added time, money and energy taken away. Supporting affordable housing and rentals in our town cores will enable local small businesses to pay fair wages and develop a stronger circular local economy by empowering our local workers with better resources.

My emphasis on strengthening our town cores through mixed-use spaces will empower our local community to be able to live, work, and play in the same space. It’s a throwback to times where our society was more sustainable and allowed us to have better relationships with each other and the land we live on.

Aside from cost of living, we must continue to support our local businesses that strive to innovate or create services and products that strengthen our circular economy. An example of a positive project that I have been a part of is through the Rice Street Business Association. We were able to create a nonprofit retail store, Alakoko Shop, as a membership rather than traditional retail. We reduce the cost for retail, which enables local creators to break into the retail space and supports local products and services.

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?

This challenge is another crisis with a timetable to it. What accelerates this challenge is that we continue to increase our trash output by not practicing more waste diversion systems and at the same time we’re not enabling our community to be part of the solution.

If elected, my first priority is to help our council be part of the solution. I will work with our administration to help our county to practice waste diversion systems in all departments and lead by example by starting with the County Council.

I have personally seen the effects of doing this. For example, Rice Street Business Association works directly with Zero Waste Kauai and every event that happens in Downtown Lihue diverts waste and appropriately allocates materials toward composting and recycling. We have successfully reduced all our major events from delivering hundreds of pounds of waste to our landfill.

In addition, I will work with our county administration, state and federal representatives, to execute a comprehensive plan in a timely manner to establish a new trash storage system. The focus will be on efficiency and accountability, so that any new system that is created doesn’t cost our community more than it should.

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?

We must expedite the execution of solutions outlined in the Kauai General Plan and the Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). The two main objectives from the DMAP that I want to execute are creating positive contributions to the quality of life for Kauai residents, and supporting the maintenance, enhancement and protection of Kauai natural resources.

The pandemic revealed two things for our community, the devastating effects of no visitors on small businesses, and the restorative ability of our natural resources when given the time and space.

Out of this experience we know that we must have a visitor system that puts the local people at the forefront. The best example of a working visitor system that protects our environment, supports our biodiversity, strengthens our infrastructure, reduces traffic, and puts our community at the forefront, is the work being done by Hui Maka’āinana o Makana in Hā’ena and The Hanalei Initiative.

We must empower our community organizations with systems in place that allow for restorative visitor experiences that contribute directly to the community.

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.

At this point in time, reinventing Kauai with one big idea wouldn’t do enough to change the trajectory we are on. Most of our problems are challenges that require change in public behavior, legislation, financing and philosophy.

What gives me hope is that the systemic challenges we face were created by us, humans. We wrote the legislation. We developed the mindset. We created the financing. We developed the behavior.

With that said, if there was one idea I could focus on, it would be our housing crisis. Our housing crisis has been exacerbated in this pandemic and my focus for Kauai County is improving our entire housing system. This includes housing policies, permitting, zoning, infrastructure, financing and property tax structure. Our housing crisis affects every aspect of our local families. From small businesses finding workers, to nonprofits needing volunteers. From the increasing brain drain, to kupuna relocation.

Support nonprofit, independent journalism.

During this election season, we hope that our coverage provides you with the information to make informed decisions on issues that you care deeply about.

Whether it’s affordable housing, education or the environment, these issues depend on your vote, and our ability to report on them depends on your support.

Every contribution, however big or small, allows us to continue keeping readers informed through election day and beyond. So, if you found value in our coverage, please take the next step by making a contribution to Civil Beat today.