KAPAA — Mayoral incumbent Bernard Carvalho Jr. and his challenger, Dustin Barca, remained sharply divided on the county’s law regulating pesticides and genetically modified organisms during one of their last political forums together on Tuesday.
When asked about his stance on Ordinance 960, Barca said “the issue of 2491 or (Ordinance 960) is one of the biggest issues we’re facing on our island.”
“They’ve done a good job using propaganda and TV ads that talk about job loss, but no one ever talked about shutting the companies down,” Barca told the standing room crowd at the Kapaa Neighborhood Center. “I wonder how people would lose jobs with disclosures and buffer zones around schools and our waterways. I think it’s a no-brainer in the protection of our community and our keiki.”
Carvalho, meanwhile, acknowledged that “960 opened the doors for discussions,” but defended his position in vetoing the bill when it reached his desk.
“I had to make a decision as mayor to look at the whole, entire bill,” Carvalho said. “I had to make sure that the legal, operational and oversight parts of it were all at the forefront before we could even move further. I would not want to put a detriment on the health and safety of our people … but we’ve got to be careful about how we move when we make decisions in this particular case.”
The county law was recently invalided when U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren declared that existing state and federal laws preempted it.
The next political forum, featuring candidates for Kauai County Council and state House District 14, is slated to be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27 at the Princeville Community Association.