Editor’s Note: In June 2012, Civil Beat sent 10 questions to each of the candidates registered to run for Honolulu City Council District 1. All five responded, including union lobbyist Mel Kahele. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full, and will serve as a resource both to voters deciding whom to vote for at the Aug. 11 primary but also to constituents so they can hold Kahele to his words should he be elected. To see how Kahele’s responses compare to those from his competitors, click here. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Kahele’s response.
Preferred Candidate Name: Mel Kahele
Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY): 5/2/1952
Place of Birth/Hometown: Honolulu
Current Profession/Employer: Iron Workers Stabilization Fund, Lobbyist
Education/Alma Mater(s): Kahuku High- Leeward Community College
1. Do you believe that Honolulu should proceed with the 20-mile elevated rail project from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Shopping Center? Why or why not?
Yes, the potential benefits of this rail project will be shared island-wide. Besides the short-term benefit of construction jobs, the potential Transit Oriented Development means long-term jobs, affordable and market housing within the primary urban core, a positive impact on Oahu’s overall traffic, and maintenance of our rural lifestyle. The buses will be freed up to provide greater service to other areas, and fewer cars on the road will mean better travel times with less stress for all motorist, especially for the residents who live in the District 1 area. ↩ back to top
2. Should the city continue to send municipal solid waste to Waimanalo Gulch Landfill until it reaches capacity, should it site a new landfill elsewhere as soon as possible, or should it pursue a different path? Why?
I believe Waimanalo Gulch should continue to be used up until another location can be found outside of the Leeward Coast. Our District is the dumping ground for all the O’pala from Oahu. I believe we should look at other alternatives such as; adding more capacity to the H-Power plant in Campbell Industrial Park; looking at Plasma technology trash to energy; and Bio energy. ↩ back to top
3. Has the sidewalk ban on stored property, in effect for six months, been a success? What should the city be doing to help Honolulu’s homeless population?
No. First of all, we should look at the problem of our homeless not being employed. Efforts should be made to increase employment for the homeless. Plus, we should create a joint task force of private, state, city, and federal agencies to address the problem in order to reduce the homeless population. ↩ back to top
4. Should the city consider eliminating property tax exemptions for homeowners, nonprofits and other special interest groups if it means lowering rates? What other steps should the council take to improve Honolulu Hale’s financial picture?
No. Creating jobs by starting the rail project, approximately 4,000 construction related jobs and another 6,000 indirect jobs, that will benefit our economy and improve Honolulu’s financial picture. ↩ back to top
5. Relations between the mayor and the City Council have been at times contentious. How would you work to improve those relations?
Being able to meet and discuss the outstanding issues and problems with the City Administration, fellow Council members and see whether we will be able to compromise. Work with the Council and Administration as a team and not be adversarial on issues that we disagree on. ↩ back to top
6. Should the city wait until July 2015 for the recently approved plastic checkout bag ban to take effect, implement something sooner or go a different route? Why?
Yes, the approved plastic ban, effective July 2015, should stay in effect and allow consumers and the business community to prepare for the changes. ↩ back to top
7. Do the Oahu General Plan and regional planning documents as currently written need to be overhauled to protect agricultural resources and manage growth or are they sufficient as is? What other steps should the city take to control or promote development?
I believe it should stay as it is. I have always been a strong believer in sustainable development. ↩ back to top
8. What do you see as the largest long-term challenge facing the city — sewers, water, roads, traffic or something else? What immediate steps will you take to put Honolulu in a stronger position to deal with its largest long-term challenge?
All of the above. They are all long term challenges facing the city. For the sewer problem, building a second digester is necessary. Establishing a realistic and sustainable budget for our infrastructure systems; repairing of roads, parks, sewer, and water lines will be necessary. ↩ back to top
9. What would you want to be remembered for as a member of the City Council?
I would be extremely proud if I could help to improve the economy immediately and plan for and build a sustainable infrastructure. ↩ back to top
10. If you could change one city decision of the last two years, what would it be and why?
I would change the manner in which we have dealt with the homeless. We need to treat the homeless humanely and with dignity. Most of our homeless are suffering because of our weak economy. ↩ back to top