LIHUE — Keeping the administration in check, maintaining the budget and fighting for the safety of hard-working families is what Mel Rapozo wants do to if elected to a new term on the Kauai County Council.
“I’m the one that asks the tough questions,” Rapozo said. “Some people call me an obstructionist, but the reality is somebody is got to speak for the people. I don’t do things for controversy. I don’t do things for votes. What I believe is what I profess. I speak for the people that don’t have an opportunity to speak.”
That’s one reason, in committee meetings, the 51-year-old voted against the General Excise Tax that proposes to raise taxes for public transportation improvements. He did it for “regular people — the people who work one, two or three jobs.”
For him, raising taxes is a last resort.
“That’s just not going to happen,” he said referring to GET. “Also, it does not address congestion. We need to address traffic congestion in Kapaa and on the Westside.”
If elected, Rapozo, the council chair, plans to work with the county and state to shift focus from beautification projects to highway improvement projects to fix congestion.
“The energy from this county has been on the Rice Street improvement or the Hardy Street improvement. To me those are luxuries, not necessities,” he said. “The traffic problem is not on Hardy Street. This whole movement to making Kauai look like Seattle where you got the bike lanes, that energy needs to be redirected to fixing the congestion that’s happening on this island.”
Other issues Rapozo wants to address in the coming term is looking for alternatives for trash disposal at the Kekaha landfill, properly equipping and staffing Kauai public safety officials, and conducting management audits to reduce staff within the county.
“I believe this county has way too many employees and more in the appointed area, and that is one of the things that I am going to address this coming year,” he said.
Rapozo has owned and operated M&P Legal Support Services LLC for the past 19 years.
The former police officer served three consecutive terms on the County Council from 2002 to 2008. After an unsuccessful mayoral run, he returned to the County Council in 2010 and was reelected in 2012 and 2014.