Kaua‘i County Council candidate Bob Bartolo said in a statement last week that he can relate to the problems residents face.
Bartolo, known to some as “Uncle Bob” of All Kauai Cleaning, said residents can find him out in the field with his crew cleaning carpet, powerwashing buildings and working hard.
“We at All Kauai have the same problems and concerns as all of you,” he said. “We know what the problems are and we have seen many consultants come to the island and explain how to fix them.”
To solve these problems, the county must have the political will to work together to become a self-reliant Kaua‘i, Bartolo said.
“We must have the community will to drive the political will,” he said. “We need sustainability in agriculture, housing, traffic, waste-to-energy and a stable economy. I believe I can bring the community together to do just that.”
Bartolo said he wants his daughter, who is going away to college, to finish school in four years and come back to Kaua‘i and be able to make enough money to purchase her first home.
“My experience on the board of Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity has taught me that there are ways to create housing and affordable communities like the houselots or Hanama‘ulu … communities ideal for first-time buyers and for young people to find rentable properties,” he said. “We need 80 more units at Kalepa Village right now. It will take the political will to do it.”
The economy is going to get worse before it gets better, the candidate said.
“But there are things we can do to protect the ‘aina,” Bartolo said. “It’s important to keep the property tax increase cap at 2 percent. We need to study carefully the amendments that are being reviewed that could make drastic changes in the plan.
“The average family will pay double their tax bill in 12 years if it is raised to 6 percent,” he said. “If they continue with the 2 percent cap it would take 36 years.”
The county must be especially careful how it handles laws and taxes regarding small businesses, especially those that relate to the visitor industry, Bartolo said.
“The weddings industry is an enormous market to tap into, especially weddings on the beach,” he said. “We have to simplify the permitting process and make it more efficient. We should encourage alternative forms of accommodations, eco-tourism on farms, cottages and B&Bs. Each property should be judged on use rather than zoning.”
Bartolo said he has spent seven years on helping to reduce traffic on the Eastside.
“I led the Kapa‘a Business Association to get the additional lane on the Wailua River Bridge and the four lanes from the bridge to the temporary bypass,” he said. “I have plans for more connector roads to take pressure off Kuhio Highway. We must pressure the state DOT to implement their plans to add two more lanes on Kaumuali‘i Highway from Kukui Grove Shopping Center to the Tree Tunnel.
“Everyone from the South Shore knows what it’s like trying to get into Lihu‘e in the morning,” he said.
Bartolo said he would question spending on outside consultants and save money by hiring more engineers to alleviate the stress and waiting of in the permitting process and more police to help reduce the increase in crime.
The KIUC “fuel surcharge” is hurting people, Bartolo said.
“They are now finding it difficult to choose between food to feed their family or pay the KIUC bill,” he said. “For 20 years we’ve complained that our electric bill is the highest in the country. What has been done about it?
“Experts are now showing us how we can make wind, hydro and waste-to-energy alleviate this problem,” he said. “It can be done sooner than later. Especially wind. Experienced consultants have shown us how. Again, we need the political will to get this done.”
Sustainability in agriculture is another important platform for the candidate. While the state has mandated a program to map out areas that are best suitable for farming to be zoned for such use in perpetuity, who will do the farming, he asked.
Bartolo said more incentives for people to farm are necessary, as is education for farmers in production and business, and the development of crops suitable for local and outside markets.
The candidate urged voters to make a “positive choice for the future.”
“I have been listening to the people of Kaua‘i for many years now,” Bartolo said. “Yes, we have to be very careful on how to balance growth and the desire to maintain our rural lifestyle. But we also need to catch up for the many years that nothing has been done. Now is the time to act.
“I want to get things done,” he said. “With your help we can do it.”
For more information, visit www.friendsofbobbartolo.com