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 Nara Boone, candidate for Maui County Council Makawao-Haiku-Paia District. Her opponent is Nohe Uu-Hodgins.

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

Candidate for Maui County Council Makawao-Haiku-Paia District

Nara Boone
Party Nonpartisan
Age 49
Occupation Singer/voice teacher
Residence Haiku, Maui

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Co-vice-president, PTA, Haiku Elementary School (two years); long-time volunteer.

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

Our quality of life is being destroyed; from the high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, overtourism, climate change, food instability … the list goes on. I plan to bring the focus back to our families.

I would support state legislation to reform the Jones Act, with the intent of lowering shipping costs to the islands. I’d work to limit the amount of tourists visiting on any given day, be it through fewer hotel accommodations, available rental cars or other means.

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?

The county just passed a bill that lowers the price of affordable housing by 22% and makes obtaining FHA loans easier for residents. I’d like to see more first-time homebuyer courses being offered in preparation for future affordable/workforce housing projects and institute rent-to-own programs, so people’s hard-earned money goes toward their future, not toward someone else’s mortgage.

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?

Our police department is significantly understaffed, creating frustration all around. I would forge more partnerships between the MPD and our community, thus creating not only oversight, but more understanding of and assistance with the challenges we all face.

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?

Yes, I support the cap and making it permanent. We, the residents, have been made to feel like outsiders in our own home. It’s time to make us the priority.

Not only do I agree with the cap, I’d like to expand it to include a ban on temporary vacation rentals within one mile of school zones. This would open up housing for our families with children, allowing them to walk to school, to save money on gas/bus fare and increase overall health.

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?

Each island has unique challenges, though Oahu has the highest population, thus receiving most of the focus. I would forge relationships with our Legislature to ensure the needs of Maui County are heard and met.

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?

Absolutely. Much of our societal structure functions in a way that dates back to the plantation era and is no longer necessary or beneficial. It’s time to bring the power back into the people’s hands, especially the water.

Charter Amendment No.12, on the ballot this election, will do just that. It will also make maintaining our water delivery systems eligible for federal funding, shoring up the current 20-plus% loss due to leaks and other disrepair. It’s also a way to bring money into our coffers, since companies like Mahi Pono would have to pay us for water use, instead of the  current system which is the other way around.

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?

We’re already experiencing irregularities in our rainfall. We should plant more trees, now, to offset drought conditions.

We need to start expanding our water retention capabilities to capitalize on torrential rains and help mitigate “mud floods” that jeopardize our coral reefs and surrounding food source. We need to begin managed retreat from the shoreline; buildings, roads and infrastructure.

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?

Again, we need to reduce the overall cost of living here. Many houseless have jobs but simply can’t afford the high rent. By rezoning empty commercial spaces to multi-use, we can create live/work spaces for residents.

Other options are managed encampments with wraparound services, including showers, kitchens, overall health care, mental health and drug addiction services, help obtaining IDs, etc.

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?

I would reduce the amount of rental cars available by at least 30% if not more. We need increased participation from hotels to shuttle guests to and from the airport, luaus/other functions, Hana, etc. Holomua Road could be used to create a bypass above Paia, clearing congestion on Hana Highway.

We also need to improve our bus system for residents. There should be direct, round-trip routes between Makawao/Pukalani/Kula and Haiku, without having to detour to Kahului.

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.

Hawaii’s entire social structure is based on a plantation system that benefits the rich, not the majority of our residents. We need to move away from this system and back toward the ways of Native Hawaiians.

Equal water distribution, taking care of the land instead of exploiting it, producing food specific to the region for a healthier community, etc. We must diversify our economy and incentivize our youth to return here with their brilliant minds, to work in engineering, environmental science and agriculture. Increase nursing, teaching and trade school education systems to expand our autonomy as a whole.

One Big Idea must consist of several, if we want to exact true change.

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