KAPA’A-He’s a graduate of an Oahu high school.
He’s been living in Hawai`i
for 30 years.
He’s a local, small-business owner, and he owns a home in
Kapa`a. And the 46-year-old married man (with wife Claudette) raised both his
children on Kaua`i.
Yet, in some ways, Gary Hooser is considered the
outsider on the Kaua`i County Council.
He even laughs about being the only
no vote in a lot of 6 to 1 council decisions.
Hooser ran unsuccessfully for
the council in 1994. He came in ninth, and only the top seven finishers get to
serve. He sat out the 1996 election, then ran again in 1998 and gathered the
“When I ran for election, my theme was that I would
listen and I would speak out. I continue to do that,” he said.
other incumbents, said the eventual ownership of Kaua`i Electric, and the
solid-waste question (landfill or incinerator/landfill) are two issues the
county must resolve.
But Hooser is equally worried about a third issue.
Housing for locals is a problem the council must deal with sooner than later,
“With the increasing growth in our economy, rents are going up and
more and more homes and condos are being converted to vacation rentals,” Hooser
explained. “Local people are being squeezed out, and it’s only going to get
worse” with upcoming hotel construction in Koloa/Poi`pu.
workers “are going to be coming in from off-island,” Hooser said. “You see the
roads. Where are we going to put 500 more cars?”
Hooser said that sooner or
later, the island must diversify its economic base.
“We need economic
development that is related to but away from the visitor industry. We have to
support more agriculture, technology and healthcare. We don’t need more jobs.
We need better jobs. Everybody I know is working two or three jobs already. We
have to say no to visitor expansion at some point,” Hooser said.
The man is
consistent. He made his political bones by being the sole council member to
vote against a large Kukui`ula resort project last October. Developer Alexander
and Baldwin’s proposal was for 700 more resort units.
confident he will be re-elected, Hooser said if his outspokenness keeps him
from returning, he won’t go away.
“I’ll definitely stay involved in
community affairs. Kaua`i is my home,” he said.
Staff writer Dennis
Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and [