Council candidates take their first stab at the issues

KOLOA – At a political forum last night, candidates for Kaua’i County Council

focused on pressing issues facing the island’s future: The general plan update,

the purchase of Kaua’i Electric and garbage.

Yet, some voters wanted

further explanation from incumbent council members on issues they worked on in

the past. Those included the extension of a runway at Lihu’e Airport and

approval of Alexander and Baldwin’s (A and B) 700 resort units project in

Po’ipu.

The questions were raised at a meeting hosted by the Southshore

Property Association at Koloa Union Church. About 20 residents attended.

Council members said they upgraded conditions for the A and B project before

giving approval, including building another road to take additional traffic

away from Lawa’i Beach Road. The developer also set aside more lands for public

use.

Councilmen Daryl Kaneshiro and Billy Swain said the council worked

with the community and negotiated at length with A and B.

Councilmen Bryan

Baptise and Gary Hooser also said the airlines didn’t want to extend the

airport runway from 6,500 to 8,500 or 10,000 feet due to cost. Aircraft

technology has advanced to the point that a larger runway is no longer needed,

the council members said.

During the forum, 12 of the 16 council candidates

on the next month’s primary election ballot discussed their backgrounds

platforms:

* Council chairman Ron Kouchi said his top priority is

resolution of the general plan update, solid waste problem and affordable

housing. Kouchi said that while he was in Washington, D. C. recently, he sought

federal funds to build more affordable housing on Kaua’i.

* Baptiste, who

is running for a second term, said he would support development of an economy

that would allow young people return to Kaua’i for work. He also said has

helped build a better working relationship between the council and the

administration of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.

* Councilman Randal Valenciano,

who has held a seat on the council for 10 years, said he wants to develop an

economy that will allow Kauaians to remain on the island.

* Kaneshiro, a

businessman and rancher, said he also he wants to develop a “kind of Kaua’i

that will provide opportunities” for residents and their

children.

Kaneshiro said south shore residents shouldn’t fret over runaway

development.

“For this area, I feel we are pretty much preserving the way

Koloa wants to be, to keep this part of the island special,” he said.

Hooser, a 30-year-resident of Hawaii and a Kapa’a businessman, said he voted

against overdevelopment in the south shore and additional funding for what he

considered to be excessive travel by administration officials. He also said he

opposes pay raises for Kusaka’s appointees.

* Swain said he would seek

passage of a measure that would provide county lifeguards immunity from legal

action.

* Kaipo Asing, who held a council seat for 18 years before he ran

for mayor in1998, lost and exited politics, said he wants to “present

information to the community so they can have a say. And this is what I do

best.”

* John Barretto Jr., another former councilman who left public

office after losing a mayoral bid, said he is running again for the council

because he is unhappy with the performance of the council and the Kusaka

administration.

In the 1980s, he organized an anti-tax which, he said, led

to homeowner exemptions and the “lower tax rate you now enjoy.”

* Anne

Donovan, a single mother of two from Kapa’a, said she wants more representation

of women on the council, diversified employment, and an updated role for

council members.

* Joe Prigge, a Kapa’a businessman, said he would look

for ways to protect Kauai’s rural lifestyle and attract new businesses to the

island that are related to “environmental industries and ocean management.” He

also would support efforts to renovate old school buildings.

* J. Kauilani

Kaheleka of Kapa’a said she would work to preserve the rural flavor of Kaua’i

– the same type of atmosphere that existed 30 years ago when she came to Kauai

from O’ahu.

“There was only one signal light on the island and

“everything closed at 5 o’clock. (sunset),” she said.

Kauaians, she

believes, wants to turn back the clock a bit and will support candidates who

feel that way.

“Being part of my culture, I just have this feeling that

something has to go to change,” she said.

Before more development occurs,

the county has to put more money upgrading the infrastructure, she

said.

Kahalekai has worked as a sales and marketing director for BFI

systems and advocates recycling.

* Robert Cariffe said he wants to keep

Kaua’i clean and to create a “hard-hitting video” to educate youths on the

pitfalls of crime and drug use.

Absent from the meeting were Councilman

Jimmy Tokioka, Cayetano “Sonny” Gerardo, a former civil defense director for

the county, Rhoda Libre of Kalaheo, founder of the West Kaua’i Watershed

Council and Roger A. Ridgley Jr. of Kapa’a.

A moment of silence was

requested by Hooser for Bob Myers, a council candidate who died last week

during a visit to Washington, D.C. to join other supporters of Hawaiian issues

in the Aloha March.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at

245-3681 (ext. 225) and [

HREF=”mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net”>lchang@pulitzer.net]

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