LIHUE — In front of a crowd of about 80 people at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall Tuesday evening, Rep. Jimmy Tokioka (D-15) and Democratic candidate Thomas Oi addressed infrastructure, affordable housing and agriculture on Kauai.
Both candidates are vying for a seat on the state House of Representatives, representing District 15 (Wailua Homesteads, Hanamaulu, Lihue, Puhi, Old Koloa Town, Omao), which is currently filled by Tokioka.
Tokioka, who sat on the Kauai Council for 10 years, said he will continue to support infrastructure projects to end traffic congestion.
“To put in new infrastructure, it needs to go through processes,” he said. “You need time for public input. We put into the budget $40 million for the four-lane bridge in Lihue, and we will continue to extend that project to the tunnel of trees.”
Oi, DLNR Kauai representative, said adding infrastructure east of the airport is crucial.
“By being innovated and using our DOT staff, we would be able to add one more lane from Wailua River to Hanamaulu,” Oi said. “(We would) give the private landholders some kind of subsidies to the state to add extra lanes.”
Oi, a land surveyor of 26 years with a background working in the state capitol, said he supports lifting the transient accommodations tax cap.
“It is very important that we do remove the cap,” he said. “The county wouldn’t have to raise taxes or eliminate emergency positions.”
Tokioka supports lifting the cap, but said it’s been difficult.
“But we gave money to the county in CIP projects,” he said. “We did our best to support the county by giving them $15 million for projects like Lima Ola.”
To create more affordable housing, Oi said he would find ways to work with private and government partnerships.
“Homelessness will not go away. We should work with KEO and the families and individuals,” Oi said. “We need to build transitional centers and permanent homes.”
Tokioka said he will continue working with the mayor and community.
“As far as KEO is concerned, I worked with KEO,” he said. “We funded them. Every year, we give them money because they do so many good things to help the community. We funded $2 million to homeless projects.”
Oi said agriculture is important to make Kauai more sustainable.
“By making agriculture parks (and giving farmers plots of) two acres, this would help more farmers to farm agriculture land,” he said.
Tokioka believes Kauai agriculture won’t be as it was with the sugar and pineapple industry.
“What we need is water,” he said. “I will continue to work with the farmers.”
Tokioka said he supports making PMRF operational as a defense mechanism.
“I know how important PMRF is to this island and to this country,” he said. “The leader of North Korea is testing all the time. If he decides to shoot a missile, that missile will take 20 minutes to arrive to this state.”
“What effects would it have on the fishing community and housing on the Westside?” Oi said. “I would want to see how it would affect our fisherman. With our limited housing, military people would be competing for housing with our local people.”