LIHUE — Richard Fukushima, candidate for Kauai County Council, said he believes the biggest concern that should be addressed on Kauai is the highways and byways.
But nothing gets done because “people like to point fingers.” If elected, he’ll get to the bottom of it, he said.
“(They say) it’s the state’s responsibility and not the county, and vice versa,” Fukushima said. “Find out who is right and correct the situation instead of bickering in doing so, the job is not being done. We should have an overall assessment of the current, urgent needs and prioritize them and reallocate the funds accordingly.”
The 71-year-old Kapaa resident with more than 34 years working for the state of Hawaii in different fields said that if the county is overspending, it means there are excess funds.
“One way to stop overspending is to cut the budget to reflect the current needs that are necessary for the daily operation of the office and if not you will lose the funds if you don’t spend it,” Fukushima said. “Saving is a good thing that could be used in the government entity and transfer the funding to another department that needs the funds. Priority should be set according to the needs of the majority of the people.”
Fukushima said the money belongs to the people of Kauai, not the government. Elected officials are the “stewards of their monies,” he said.
“People on Kauai rely on the elected officials to be stewards of their monies and in so doing, the officials should be held accountable,” he said. “Most people do not vocally voice their opinions, so therefore the elected officials should be their voices in government and represent them accordingly.”
Traffic, buses, first class travel, and taxes are some of the issues that community members have shared with Fukushima and that he wants to address if elected to county council. He also has spoken to elders with fixed incomes.
One of the biggest concerns is housing, he said.
“The prices of real estate have gone above the means of the ordinary citizens of Kauai, working at minimum wage jobs,” Fukushima said. “Even with two adults in the family, working two jobs each, can they realize a house of their dreams. An average of $25 plus an hour can barely make a mortgage payment; leave alone the cost of food, utilities, and other living expense.”
Fukushima said that we must call upon “a higher being to help us realize the importance of loving and bonding with one another so that, everyone can be safe.”
That in the end will result in a safer Kauai, he said.
As a Vietnam veteran who served in the United States Army Security for six years and the Hawaii Army National Guard for 21 years, said he has talked with the Veteran Center about the programs available to veterans.
Like men of the military, police officers are dedicated men and women to serve and protect our communities, Fukushima said.
“It takes a dedicated and selfless person to dedicate their lives to help people,” he said. “Like in every profession, there is always the 2 percent that makes a bad reflection of the group as a whole. In today’s society, we must protect those who help protect us. The police officers must be equipped with the proper equipment and administrative backing. The police officers do get into life threatening situations where they have to rely on their better judgment, experience and training in their profession.”