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Hooser is council’s outsider

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

fifth-most votes.

“When I ran for election, my theme was that I would

listen and I would speak out. I continue to do that,” he said.

Hooser, like

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,

he said.

“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.

More construction

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.

Although he’s

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 [

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

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