Hooser pledges to work for ‘immediate relief’ for Kapa’a traffic mess

KUKUI’ULA – State Sen. Gary Hooser (D, Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) recalls a time 20 years ago when he was attending meetings on a proposed Kapa’a bypass road to alleviate congestion along Kuhio Highway.

He’s still going to Kapa’a bypass meetings, and, frankly, he’s getting tired of meetings without solutions, he told members and guests of the Poipu Beach Resort Association and Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce at Lawai Beach Resort here Thursday night.

Hooser has at least two years in the Senate, but gaining a seat on the Ways and Means Committee (the money committee) puts him in a position, he feels, to deliver on his promise to provide “immediate relief for Kapa’a traffic.”

A law passed by the state Legislature in conjunction with the re-drawing of state House and Senate districts statewide provides that any newly elected (as opposed to re-elected) state senator would serve only a two-year term initially.

That is to ensure that after the reapportionment all state senators would not be up for re-election at the same time, in four years.

On another roadway issue, Hooser called the dirt road leading to Polihale State Park “atrocious,” and said that while he doesn’t advocate paving it, he does favor compacting and grading to smooth the ride a bit.

Physically closer to his home and business, he said the state needs to do whatever it can to assist the private sector in getting the Coco Palms Resort reopened.

“We need to get that hotel back online,” said Hooser.

He said he favors the recently passed state bottle-deposit bill, but there are other issues he finds more pressing.

“Education is the most important work of the Legislature,” Hooser continued, saying that facilities improvements at schools and increased efforts to hire and retain the best teachers available will be his priorities in the session that begins next month.

Hooser is vice chair of the Senate Education Committee.

He told a crowd of nearly 50 people that the large number of votes he garnered in the general election gives him more strength than the average freshman in the Senate.

It is the voices that propelled him into office that he needs to continue to hear from, he commented. “We need your ideas. We need your information.”

People are asking him constantly what he plans to do in his first session, and he’s asking them what he can do for them, he said.

There won’t be enough money to fund every initiative, he added. But there may be some savings to be achieved through elimination of duplication of services between federal, state and county workers, he noted.

Hooser heard some applause when he said, of the 20 Democratic senators (there are five Republican senators), all who he has talked to have pledged to work with Republican Gov. Linda Lingle for the good of the state.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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