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 Nelson Mukai, candidate for Kauai County Council. The other candidates for seven positions are Addison Bulosan, Bernard Carvalho, Felicia Cowden, Billy DeCosta, Luke Evslin, Fern Holland, Ross Kagawa, KipuKai Kuali’i, Lila Metzger, 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

Nelson Mukai
Party Nonpartisan
Age 58
Occupation High school teacher
Residence Kapaa

Community organizations/prior offices held

Youth league and high school coach. 

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

The biggest issue facing Kauai right now is getting people to work. And teaching the young people how to work, so they can earn a living. Life is work. You work, you play, you can buy a car, you can start a family, you can get a house and you can travel. But most of all you pay taxes and the government can reduce the $30 trillion deficit.

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?

Hanalei and Haena people have been saying for years they don’t want to be developed. So when natural disasters occur, they’ve got to suffer the consequences. They’ve got to realize that that is the price of paradise.

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?

I don’t think that is a high priority right now. However, cesspools around drinking and potable water should be corrected as soon as possible and should be put on the priority list, and cesspools should be changed to septic tanks.

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 not a high priority right now. Compared to Honolulu, Maui and California, we are fine.

To attack traffic problems on Kauai I believe we can construct a loop road sometime in the future. Not a high priority right now, but we can start by building bridges and infrastructure and good planning.

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

My hope is that they are. But when I was going to UH Manoa, I attended monthly meetings with the county council rep. The Kauai rep was Mel Rapozo, and I was working with Ikaika Anderson. They said that if you give Governor Ige too many projects and issues at a time he won’t do anything. Three or four a month is best.

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?

I would support any kind of affordable low-income project.

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?

As a businessman, schoolteacher and resident of Hawaii for 38 years and California resident for 20 years, I’ve always worked.

I am a leader by example so I will encourage Kauai people to work. I’m a Christian and I believe life is work.

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? 

We need to buy an incinerator and do what Oahu does with their trash.

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?

Yes, I believe too many tourists are not good for Kauai. We need to tax tourists and make them pay for paradise.

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.

My goal is to run for Kauai County Council and learn and use this experience to move Kauai forward and move to a higher position in federal government. My goal is to become a world leader one day.

I’ve had a lot of life experiences and a lot of mentors. I think I’m a very special person, and everyone else is special also. I humbly ask for your vote this election.

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