Nadine Nakamura: Traffic, affordable housing, environment top priorities

KAPAA — Nadine Nakamura is taking on traffic congestion, the protection of cultural and natural resources, and the affordable housing issue in her campaign for the State House District 14 seat.

The 54-year-old Kapaa resident was appointed managing director for the County of Kauai in 2013 and stepped down from that position in June. She served on the Kauai County Council from 2010-12.

She grew up on Oahu and graduated from Radford High School. After getting her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California, she received her master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“My children attended Kapaa Elementary, Middle and High schools, and before becoming an elected official, I was very active in school community councils and PTSAs,” Nakamura said.

Nakamura has been a planner for the Department of Transportation for the City and County of Honolulu and project coordinator for the Pacific Housing Assistance Cooperation.

She also runs her own business, NKN Project Planning, based in Kapaa.

Nakamura said she’s intimately familiar with the traffic issues through the Eastside, and “will work very hard to make sure there is adequate funding” for easing traffic congestion, not just in the Wailua corridor, but throughout the island.

She’ll also be pushing to add one more southbound lane between the Wailua Bridge and the southern terminus of the Kapaa Bypass Road, fronting Coco Palms.

She’s also on board with the idea to add one more northbound lane on the Kapaa Bypass Road, between the roundabout and Kuhio Highway, as well as adding one more Lihue- bound lane between the former Aloha Beach Resort to Hanamaulu.

“This would eliminate the need for contra-flow lanes, which is a costly operation,” Nakamura said, who added that Hawaii’s Department of Transportation “is in the planning and design stage of this project.”

She’d also like to see the state and county work together to build the Kuamoo- Maalo connector road, which would promote easier flow of emergency vehicles throughout the island.

“While these road improvements are critical to relieve traffic congestion, it is also important to work on reducing the number of vehicles on the road,” Nakamura said.

She proposes to do that by improving frequency and routes of the island’s bus system and adding convenient shuttles.

Affordable housing is also at the forefront of Nakamura’s mind, and she supports federal and state low-income housing tax credits to help reduce construction costs, Rental Housing Revolving Loan funds to cover predevelopment costs, and Dwelling Unit Revolving Funds to help cover infrastructure costs.

“We all see the signs of our affordable housing crisis,” Nakamura said. “All levels of government need to work to address the continuum of housing needs on Kauai and throughout the state.”

If elected, Nakamura said she’ll help to secure money to repair and maintain agricultural irrigation systems that provide farmers water at a low cost; support agricultural education in the form of farm-to-school initiatives; support agriculture parks; and support local branding and marketing campaigns.

Also on her list is protecting the cultural and natural resources of the island. She’ll support KIUC’s goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2023, support funding for invasive species protection, and find ways to address seal level rise in coastal areas.

“We are blessed to live on the most beautiful island in the world,” Nakamura said. “We need to protect our natural resources and biodiversity for our children and our future generations.”

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