• KipuKai Les P. Kuali‘i
• Tim Bynum
Editor’s note: The following seven questions were posed to the 23 candidates for Kauai County Council. Two candidates a day will have their answers reprinted in their entirety until all candidates’ answers have appeared.
1) Define what future development on Kaua‘i means to you. Please use specifics.
2) What is your vision of the island in 10 years?
3) What specific credentials do you have for being a County Council member? Why are you the best for our county? Again, let’s get specific. What positions of power have you held in the past? What connections do you have that will benefit the county?
4) How will you work with the other six members of the County Council if elected? Would like some specific tactics and strategies you would use to act on the county’s behalf within the larger group.
5) What is your history? Born and raised here? Mainlander? Family? Residence? Career? Education?
6) What does open government mean to you?
7) What is the single, most important issue to you?
KipuKai Les P. Kuali‘i
1) Future development on Kaua‘i to me has to include affordable housing to help alleviate the ever worsening problem of overcrowding and our “invisible homeless.” I would also like to see future development support job creation in green industries like sustainable agriculture and clean, renewable energy alternatives.
Our planning process’ failure to direct and control growth in sensible and sensitive ways is diminishing our quality of life. Let’s require adherence to smart growth principles. Let’s pass a “Use it or lose it law” so unused development rights expire and not remain in effect indefinitely. And let’s amend the coastal setback laws based on the scientific results of the Coastal Erosion Study.
2) My vision for Kaua‘i in 10 years is for returning to resourcefulness and sustainability, and for reconnecting with our traditions and values, especially malama ‘aina (caring for our island) and malama kekahi i kekahi (caring for each other). I see us working hard together to solve our most pressing problems while preserving our island, culture and lifestyle.
I see development being directed and controlled by smart growth planning, our solid waste challenges being met by aggressive maximum reduce, reuse and recycle programs, as well as community volunteer zero waste efforts and our energy challenges being met by successful clean, renewable energy alternative start-ups such as a wind and hydropower.
I see more and more of our citizens benefitting from extensive community assistance outreach and education. Our fully overhauled real property tax system is providing relief to residents while also providing incentives to businesses. Our inpatient drug treatment center is fully operational and successful family-based treatment and prevention programs are ongoing. Our government leaders spend our tax dollars responsibly utilizing regular audits to prioritize county services and eliminate wasteful spending. Our citizens have full access to government and our sunshine laws will are some of the most progressive in the nation.
3) A passionate community organizer dedicated to helping others, I have over 20 years experience in labor, political and community campaigns across the country. Currently, I’m the coordinator of AKAMAI Mahi‘ai, a community economic development project creating an agricultural training and agribusiness center, developing local leaders and bringing additional resources to Anahola.
I think I’m best for our county because I’m fully committed to working hard, working smart and working together with others.
I’m currently a director with the Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development, Hui Kako‘o ‘Aina Ho‘opulapula (Department of Hawaiian Home Lands waitlistee advocacy) and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. I’ve also been president and chief negotiator of the West Hollywood Municipal Employees union. As executive director with Pride At Work, AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., I was an effective community organizer, educator, lobbyist, writer and presenter.
I traveled with Up With People for a year with 180 other young people from 15 different countries; lived with over 100 host families; performed and promoted a professionally produced musical show; attended lectures and discussions with civic, business, and industry leaders; as well as participated in community service projects. These experiences required teamwork, learning quickly, communicating effectively, self-confidence and empathy.
4) Would like some specific tactics and strategies you would use to act on the county’s behalf within the larger group.
I will build strong working relationships with each of my six colleagues by being a good listener and by always being prepared to work on the issues. I will strive to always be professional and to approach each day and challenge with hard work, honesty and integrity.
I will be a consensus builder and I will push for expediency on behalf of the people. I will always act in the best interest of the people of Kaua‘i and my motivation will always be to bring people together to make a difference. Finally, I understand what an honor and privilege it is to serve at the will of the people.
5) Born in Lihu‘e, I spent my first years in KipuKai Ranch where my parents, Wilfred Kuali‘i and Patricia Carvalho, worked and first met. I was raised in a large sugar plantation family in Old Puhi Camp (now the KCC garden farm). Mom and Dad taught us to be resourceful, work hard, put family first and take care of our island and each other.
As the eldest son of the Corr family, Dad grew up in the lo‘i kalo (taro patches) and lo‘i pa‘akai (Hawaiian salt beds) of Hanapepe. He shared with us those experiences along with his proficiency as a paniolo (cowboy), hunter, fisherman and gardener.
I credit my integrity and humility to my grandparents, James “Red” Corr and Melapa “May” Makanui of Hanapepe and Ernest “Shiriki” Carvalho and Clarissa Ferreira of Lihu‘e.
I was an honors student at Immaculate Conception, Kamehameha and the University of the Pacific where I earned a degree in business administration.
I have 20 years experience in government, labor and nonprofit administration, and I’ve worked for social and economic justice across the country before coming back home to help my own family and community.
6) Open government means our citizens have full access to their government and our sunshine laws are some of the most progressive sunshine laws in the nation.
7) Our planning process’s failure to direct and control growth in sensible and sensitive ways diminishes our quality of life. Let’s require adherence to smart growth principles. Let’s pass a “Use it or lose it law” so unused development rights expire and not remain in effect indefinitely. Such a law would have greatly reduced the development on our South Shore today. And let’s also amend the coastal setback laws based on the scientific results of the Coastal Erosion Study.
1) Development on Kaua‘i should be paced and consistent with the vision outlined in our 2000 General Plan. Specifically, our vision is to keep Kaua‘i’s rural character by supporting incremental smart growth adjacent to our unique towns and communities and keeping communities separated by open space and view planes.
To accomplish this goal requires:
• Preserving agricultural land for true agriculture, not urbanization and sprawl.
• Pacing growth consistent with general plan goals.
Kaua‘i can appropriately pace growth by conducting assessments of infrastructure needs and fairly requiring impact fees on new development to ensure adequate infrastructure to accommodate the paced growth. People on Kaua‘i know that our current infrastructure is not adequate to deal with the rapid pace of growth we have experienced in the last 10 years. As the economic cycle cools, we need to do the appropriate planning and put the mechanisms and ordinances in place to make certain we do not make the same mistakes again, and ensure we are ready for the next economic upturn.
Pacing growth helps create steady employment for our local workforce and avoids the need to import new workers from elsewhere, which strains our available workforce housing driving up housing costs for working people.
2) In 10 years, Kaua‘i remains the best island in the world to live on and visit. Residents enjoy adequate affordable housing and economic opportunities to stay on Kaua‘i and prosper. We have a diverse, sustainable economy with a strong, unique visitor industry complimented by growing high-tech business and entrepreneurial sectors.
Many people on Kaua‘i are involved in sustainable endeavors ensuring that the food residents eat and served to visitors is primarily grown and raised on Kaua‘i. Agriculture systems have been preserved and enhanced. Soils are being enriched organically. Greenwaste, food waste and even sludge are being composted and recycled for that purpose.
Energy needs are met primarily by a diverse mix of renewable wind, wave, sun, hydro and biomass sources. Increasingly, people reside near their workplace in livable, walkable communities in which their daily needs are close at hand. Some county workers and others telecommute and work from home. Increasingly, visitors use shared-use paths, convenient public transportation along with tour, resort and North Shore shuttles instead of car rentals on their vacations.
Kaua‘i remains well-established as the most unique and desirable of the Hawaiian Islands with a destiny very different than that of Maui or O‘ahu.
3) On Kaua‘i I have been involved in the community for years. As a marriage and family therapist, I coordinated child abuse treatment programs which involved working with families all over the island and collaborating with Child Protective Services and the criminal justice system.
As a community volunteer, I was the coordinator of the Kamalani Playground and Kamalani Kai Bridge Projects. I am the founder of the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, and was the coordinator for 10 years, during which we completed a community master plan expanding the park and creating the family campground (overdue to be opened), the first phase of the shared-use path, and the sports fields (soon to open).
I am also a small business owner and a former director of the Kapa‘a Business Association.
In government I worked with Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s office in the Ka Leo O Kaua‘i community outreach program. I am currently a first term member of the County Council. With my varied background on Kaua‘i, I have numerous good relationships with virtually all sectors of the community and these individuals know I call on them regularly to listen carefully to their input on the critical decisions facing our county.
4) I will continue to work collaboratively with fellow council members, the administration, community members and groups. I have strived to treat everyone with equal respect and dignity, to listen carefully, to be clam, balanced and to seek common ground whenever possible.
I welcome having my views challenged because I do not believe mine is necessarily the best position. I believe that when we arrive at a consensus through mutual understanding and compromise that we often achieve the best outcome for our community.
When we do disagree we can do so without being disagreeable. Specifically, I believe the county needs to share and disseminate as much information to the public as easily as possible so we are all working with the same knowledge base.
I would like to see the council do more meetings on specific topics in a workshop format. I am looking forward to implementing our plan to broadcast meetings live on the Internet and make them available in easily accessible archives by topic.
Working with the administration, regardless of who our next mayor is, means working together to make the county successful in achieving our goals and offering some level of deference in how those goals are realized.
5) Gini and I chose Kaua‘i as our home in 1990. We have been married for 33 years. Our children, David and Kelly, were babies when we arrived. We came seeking a special community to make our life and raise our children in.
Kaua‘i has been everything we dreamed of and more. Living for years on the same block in Wailua Houselots, we were blessed with a safe and loving neighborhood in a community full of aloha. We currently reside in the Wailua Homesteads.
David works for Holo-Holo charters and is the father of our grandson, Kawika. Kelly just started UH Manoa after graduating from Kapa‘a High. Gini is a medical assistant and has worked as a kindergarten and preschool teacher.
I have a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of California, Riverside, and a master’s in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. I have been a licensed marriage and family therapist since 1985.
On Kaua‘i, I worked for Child and Family Service, the YWCA, The Children’s Justice Center (formally the Children’s Advocacy Center), and was the executive director of Leadership Kaua‘i. I worked for the county of Kaua‘i in Mayor Bryan Batiste’s office and currently am a council member.
6) Open government means ensuring that government operates in the public eye to the greatest extent possible. Council does, in my opinion, follow the requirements of the charter and the state Sunshine Law regarding open government. I also know we can do a better job.
The county can further the cause of a more open government by making information readily available to the public. We can do a much better job at making public documents available on the Internet.
I have advocated and worked successfully with the administration to put agendas and minutes for boards and commissions on the county’s Web site. I have pushed for the same access for County Council minutes, which are, unfortunately, still unavailable to the public on the Internet and are only available in hard copy. Obtaining minutes requires going to Council Services and paying a copying fee.
I have stated my belief that most written county attorney opinions regarding the law should be made available to the public, as they are in other Hawai‘i governmental jurisdictions. I have proposed a county ordinance that would mirror the state law governing the release of state attorney general opinions that has been in place for over 40 years.
7) Good planning for the future and implementation of those plans! Traffic, inadequate infrastructure, lack of housing, loss of rural character and open space are the results of poor planning, no planning or plans not implemented.
I first ran for council because of frustration regarding the slow implementation of the 2000 general plan update. The plan has a vision to preserve the uniqueness of our island that I feel most residents agree with. Yet as we approach 2009, only a few of the specific actions required to realize our vision have happened.
For example, the general plan calls for specific measures to regulate agricultural subdivisions to control proliferation of “gentlemen estates” on ag land, yet the bills to accomplish this — finally circulated by Mayor Baptiste — are stalled.
The general plan envisions pacing growth at sustainable levels, yet the studies to establish the reasonable nexus required for growth limits to be implemented have not been completed.
New development, particularly in highly desirable areas like Kaua‘i, typically requires developers to pay impact fees to mitigate the impacts to police, fire, transportation, workforce housing, solid waste, water, wastewater and parks. The impact fee studies required to fairly assess these fees have yet to be completed.