County Council candidates answer

• Rhoda Libre

• Bob Bartolo

Editor’s note: The following seven questions were posed to the 22 candidates for Kaua‘i 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?

Rhoda Libre

1) A clean, prosperous, self-reliant, safer, and economically, intellectually, and technologically vibrant community with a government that lifts us up and not grinds our island society down.

Infrastructure should be in harmony with the carrying capacity of the watershed as it is deemed in federal mandates and other better management practices. That also goes with the carrying capacity of cars, highways, pesticides, total maximum daily loads for dumping into natural waters, and trash.

Our problems pose great economic potential for our regional people. Importing further solutions or outsourcing has proved languished and prevented our own potential from prospering.

2) Better senior citizens’ healthcare and assisted living environment should be safer and not only agriculturally independent but give the small farm ‘ohana opportunities to keep caring for their elderly and children.

3) A proven forefront leader that will and has taken action when elders, children, women, safety, empowerment, development and e malama i ka ahupua’a apau: in 1980, one of Kaua‘i first local wahine newscaster/dj for KUAI radio; in 1993, first video-journalist and TV broadcaster of current news, council, police, state government and community development program; in 1994, Hawai‘i’s and Kaua‘i’s first mayor’s reports, Kaua‘i courtroom; TV and missing persons public awareness; in 1995, founded Hawai‘i’s first sex and violent offender registry in the state and prompted the compliance of federal “Megan’s Law” in Hawai‘i with the online sex offenders’ registry as well as senior citizens law conference and information and the Department of Health cigeratera and leptos warning and species listing and safety; in 1996, broadcast “high profiles” that gave current news and a hotline to the Kaua‘i Westside Watershed Council for community action task force; in 1997, KWWC community meetings and conferences and advocacy to the county and state Legislature: Commercial activities (kayaks, surf, dive …) in the cultural areas of Puolo Point, Salt Pond, and Waimea and Hanapepe rivers; in 1999, Kaua‘i Westside watershed council.

Active community and government entities: 1981 Miss Kaua‘i Filipina title; Kaua’i county solid waste advisory committee; Hanapepe/‘Ele‘ele community development committee; heiva i Kaua‘i (produced); state marine and coastal zone advisory council; Garden Island Resources, conservation and development (board of directors); Kaua’i Filipino women’s club (food) PMRF cooperative partnership in community projects (KWWC restoration program); executive director for Kaua’i Westside Watershed Council.

4) No answer submitted.

5) I am keiki-o-ka-‘aina from the Westside of Kaua‘i, educated at Kaumakani Elementary, Waimea High School, Kaua‘i Community College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, UH system, University of Phoenix, National Tropical Botanical Gardens and other trade and arts schooling. World traveled for 15 years throughout the U.S., Asia, South Pacific, North America and Canada. Raised kanaka from the Westside by grandparents on the Olokele plantation. Independent contractor and business owner and cultural activities director for Diamond Resorts International. School of hard knocks and hands-on experience and lifetime student of science and culture.

6) A standard.

7) Safety and security of the better future for the people of Kaua‘i i ka pono apau.

Bob Bartolo

1) Depends what you mean by development. The first thing I think of is new business development. The visitor industry will remain the main income producer for the island but we must find other niche industries to keep us balanced. I am looking at a Tech Innovation Park on the Westside, with the county providing incentives in land and taxes, which would attract more high tech companies. We would require these companies to provide scholarships and train our local young people to work here on Kaua‘i. This would also create the need for affordable communities, like the Houselots, Hanamaulu and Kalepa Village in that area to support these businesses. As far as residential development goes, we would need to balance growth and infrastructure with our rural environment. We have enough high-end homes being built on Kaua‘i right now. My experience on the board of Habitat has shown me we can build affordable communities like those I mentioned above.

2) I see the growth of many small boutique industries that actually fit in with our desire to further develop sustainability and agriculture on Kaua‘i. Farmers are training to grow papaya and there is movement to open the infestation plant for other produce as well. Cacao or chocolate is in its infancy right now but will be a strong Kaua‘i- grown and -made product. Specialty lumber, another locally produced product, will be an important industry as the mill goes into full operation. The farm education department at KCC is training more people how to grow and market produce for the Sunshine Markets, large farms and even home garden farms. The wedding industry is another important market we can’t ignore, at $160 billion nationwide, Las Vegas gets 8 times the amount of dollars that Hawai‘i gets ($120 billion compared to $20 billion in Hawai‘i) so we should look closely at that market. Each wedding couple brings 20 to 50 guests, meaning many more people to spend money on the island, and when they go home the photos and videos they take create a market of future guests returning to Kaua‘i.

3) I have been actively involved in the local community for over 19 years. Past president of the Poipu Beach Rotary Club (Club of the Year Honors), vice president of the Kapa‘a Business Association, chair of the Traffic Committee — created the original concept for the additional lane on the Wailua Bridge and the four lanes to the by-pass, member Ka Leo O Kaua‘i Houselots, originator and chair of the Coconut Festival, board member of Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity — Chair Selection Committee, board member of Kaua‘i Business Council, past publicity chairman for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk.

4) I can tell you there are some great people in the community who would be better than me but I made the choice to run. I will rely on these experts to help me in making decisions. They are a network of advisors on many areas that affect Kaua‘i. And the boards that I have served on have given me the experience that’s needed to make the changes that are necessary to get things done. We can’t go on waiting 20 years for a road to be built, or last minute repairs to be made that should have been done decades ago, we lose money when that happens. I have for more than a year devoted my company’s advertising message to encourage the aloha spirit on Kaua‘i, and I had hoped other businesses would have followed my lead. It’s never just the people we elect who run the island, they depend on a support group and I’m no different. It took me 7 years working with the DOT and the county to finally agree to put the additional lane on the Wailua Bridge and the four lanes to the by-pass. I was able to get our late Mayor to put $2 million in the budget for a connector road from the by-pass to the rear of the shopping centers in Kapa‘a. I am trying to get more money for more connector roads to take the traffic off Kuhio Highway. It took determination and community will to get the political will to finally get the money to start these much needed improvements. I’ve found that it’s those who have the “positions of power” who do not like to make innovative decisions, rocking the boat. Those who know me know that when I decide to complete something I do everything I can to work with everyone I can to be successful. I believe in community, I believe in aloha, I believe in the greater good motivating us to find the right answer to any question or problem. I don’t believe in the current “in-fighting” or political positioning that had been happening in some areas of the council. I know there are incumbents who traditionally have a better chance to be re-elected, but the people are asking for change, that’s why 22 people signed up to be in this election. It’s a huge vote for “new blood” on the council. Whoever is elected I pledge to work hard for the community to bring about the needed change the people are looking for.

5) I’ve come from the Garden State of New Jersey to the Garden Island of Kaua‘i. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country yet it is one of the leading states in small farm production. I’ve learned from living there about mandatory recycling and traffic congestion. In N.J. my ad agency worked for the Metromeadowlands Chamber of Commerce handling graphics and advertising. I was a member of the N.J. Sales and Marketing Association as well as vice president of the Fairliegh Dickenson University Rutherford Campus Alumni Association. I put myself through eight years of night school and one final year of full-time college. I have a BS degree in Marketing/Advertising, and actually spent one evening semester at Baruch Evening Graduate School of Business at NYC College. I served in the Army as a 2nd Lt in the Army Corp of Infantry Engineers. I have a married daughter on the Mainland, a daughter entering University of San Diego next week, an energetic 10-year-old son, a spunky 2-year-old daughter and a loving and caring wife.

6) Open government is the only form of government that should exist in America, or the rest of the world for that matter. Openness is essential, and transparency of government is the law of the land, it needs to be adhered to. I can understand that the council must occasionally meet in private “executive session” when there are legal ramifications to what’s being discussed, but once the issue is settled we should insist on open information being given to the people. Other than that all discussion should be immediately available to the public. I would like to see the highlights of every council meeting made available in The Garden Island newspaper. People become confused and irritated when they do not know all the problems and issues that are behind decisions. I would like to see The Garden Island newspaper be more involved and hold politicians accountable for their decisions. Ho‘ike works well but it could be improved, maybe we need to have edited copies of the footage available to the public to show the discussion in detail on important issues.

7) The most important issue to me is sustainability in all areas. We need more engineers in planning to move the permitting process along and make the system simpler and faster. We need more police to reduce drugs and crime. We need more affordable housing to give our future children and their families a place to live. We need the land and infrastructure for housing; electricity, roads, and water to reach that new land.

We need to keep our taxes low so that our elderly, new homebuyers and the working class can feed their children and we need to convert to alternative energy NOW.

We know there is no magic bullet for energy, that specifically wind, solar and wave power will not be easy to get started. But we must start NOW to make some big decisions. All these things are connected and have been neglected for too long. We know what the problems are; we have experts telling us how to fix them. What have we been waiting for? We need decision makers who will take action now and that’s what I can offer.


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