NUKOLII — Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. on Tuesday told The Garden Island that he supports the Kauai County Council’s efforts to give voters the opportunity to repeal term limits, but said the plan should be expanded beyond just councilmembers to also include the executive branch.
If the council does expand the plan to include the office of mayor, and if voters decide to repeal term limits in the 2016 election, Carvalho said he is open to the possibility of serving a third term in office.
The mayor offered his thoughts on that subject and several others following the Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever mayoral luncheon at the Kauai Beach Resort.
“For me, it’s all about the people. Let them decide,” Carvalho said, adding that he personally intends to vote in favor of repealing term limits, should a supermajority of the Kauai County Council agree to put the question on the ballot.
But, if the council is going ask voters to decide whether to keep term limits for councilmembers, then voters should have the option to decide on whether to keep term limits for the mayor too, he said.
“If they are looking at that, why not look at the mayor’s position, too?” Carvalho asked. “They should consider it.”
Term-limits for councilmembers were put in place following the 2006 election, when voters approved a measure to cap the number of terms a councilmember may serve at no more than four consecutive, two-year terms. The ballot proposal passed by a landslide — more than 60 percent of voters supported it at that time.
The mayor’s office was already term-limited by the Kauai County Charter to two, four-year terms, although by the time Carvalho is slated to leave office in 2018 he will have served a total of 10 years, since he originally took office following the death of former mayor Bryan Baptiste.
Carvalho did not rule out a possible run for higher office should he be term-limited out of his current position, but he did say that, “For now, my focus, my heart and soul is here,” on Kauai.
Whatever future office he may decide to seek, the mayor said he expects to be judged based on the work he does now in office.
One upcoming project involves trying to get the Kauai County Council to agree to levy a tax surcharge on top of the state’s General Excise Tax (G.E.T.) in order to raise money for transportation.
The G.E.T. is a business tax charged on transactions on goods and services at every level, and is usually passed on to consumers.
Carvalho said that a proposal is going to be coming up very shortly in county council, and that it is something he supports. Adding an additional 0.5 percent on top of the state’s 4-percent G.E.T. could generate an additional $8 million in tax revenue for the county.
The mayor does not, however, support the council’s efforts to study the possibility of switching to a county manager form of government.
“I feel that this form of government we have now is working,” he said, and noted that he supports the separation of powers. “I’ve heard of other jurisdictions and it didn’t work. We’ve evolved into this form of government and it’s working well.”
The mayor gave an hour-long speech in which he talked about his administration’s accomplishments and future goals, which he summed up by saying no matter the problem, he would keep working.
“We can’t direct the wind, but we can surely adjust the sails,” he said.
The North Shore shuttle is one such example. The council killed funding for the pilot program during budget cuts, but the mayor said that finding a way to make it happen is a priority of his.
In total, 220 people turned out for the event.