Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles profiling the candidates for Kaua‘i County Council. One will run each day until all candidates have been profiled.
Watching a recent election forum where Kaua‘i County Council incumbents talked almost exclusively about government functions and adherence to laws reaffirms in challenger George Anderson’s mind what he must do if elected — get close to the people.
The council “should become concerned about the people and not so much be concerned about the function of government,” said Anderson, one of 14 candidates vying for a seat on the seven-member council in the Nov. 7 general election. “If you take care of the people, the government will be taken care of.”
Anderson offered no specific solutions to affordable housing, traffic congestion, drug use, crime and encouraging government trust, but wondered why incumbents — who say they have done a good job in running the county — still have not made much progress in solving those problems or mitigating them.
Anderson believes open government offers the way to make headway on those issues. He said he would have “as many meetings opened to the public as the law would allow.”
The problem facing the current council, he says, is that it doesn’t move on legislation without approval by the County Attorney’s office.
“We now have this filter, and I am wondering why we don’t turn the whole thing around,” he said.
The council, and not the County Attorney’s office, should decide what action to take on the Ohana Kaua‘i tax relief charter amendment proposal and public complaints against some police officers.
Anderson said a dominant concern for him is the loss of Kaua‘i’s slow pace of life in the face of what seems to be non-stop development.
Saying he wants to preserve the aloha spirit, Anderson said he would strive for more balance between development and the preservation and protection of the environment through ordinances.
How the island will look in 10 years will depend on when community development plans are developed by the county and fleshed out, he said.
“We also need to slow things down so we have the opportunity to review these (plans) and make some decisions based on the plans and the county General Plan,” he said.
While building more affordable housing is a must, he would lobby for a moratorium on commercial and tourist-related projects.
“It comes down to balancing property rights and the vest rights of residents,” he said. “I would try to see if we could possibly reverse some of the commercial zoning.”
If elected, Anderson said he would lobby for Kaua‘i to grow in a responsible manner, again through ordinances.
“I have lived on Kaua‘i all my adult life,” said the 66-year-old Anderson. “My family is here. My friends are here, and I am concerned about the future welfare of my children and my friend’s children.”
He said he is qualified to be a councilman because of his varied life experiences as a taro farmer, homebuilder and wastewater system designer.
“The public could benefit from a candidate with a practical look on life,” he said.
Because of his flexible outlook, Anderson believes he can work with whomever sits on the next council.
“I would try to be the conscience of the council and try to remind them of the people’s needs and welfare,” he said.