LIHUE — Gary Hooser is running for re-election to the Kauai County Council. His priorities are affordable housing, health and the environment, food and energy self-sufficiency, traffic congestion, and preventing the increase of local taxes.
“I believe people and the environment must come first, that development should be linked to the capacity of our infrastructure and that Kauai residents deserve quality housing they can afford,” Hooser said.
The 62-year old Wailua Homesteads resident began his political career with a stint on the Kauai County Council from 1998 to 2002, when he was elected state Senator. He served in the Senate until 2010, and was Majority Leader from 2006-2010.
From 2011 to 2012, Hooser was state director for the Office of Environmental Quality Control, and in 2012 he rejoined Kauai’s County Council.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Hawaii.
Hooser arrived on Kauai in 1980 and picked up a job at the Fun Factory in Kapaa. Eventually he and a partner opened their own small publishing business, H&S Publishing.
“Operating our business during those times was very stressful, but we stuck it out. We worked smart and we worked hard and eventually we were able to turn the business around and turn a profit,” Hooser said. “My motto to this day is to never, never quit.”
One thing that Hooser is focusing on in his campaign is making traffic relief measures a priority.
“The county cannot just blame the state and must take the lead,” Hooser said.
He said in addition to holding the state responsible for daily movement on projects that will relieve traffic, he said he’d also like to see a few smaller connecter roads, particularly in the Wailua corridor, created with county jurisdiction.
In conjunction with traffic relief, Hooser said it’s also important to limit new development – except for affordable residential – based on adequacy of infrastructure.
“Existing traffic conditions must be improved, sewage systems upgraded and drinking water resources protected before any new major developments are approved,” Hooser said.
On affordable housing, Hooser supports using county capacity and zoning authority to create truly affordable housing for local residents, in alignment with the General Plan and “adjacent to existing urban centers to minimize traffic and infrastructure impacts.”
Agriculture is another priority for Hooser, who said he’ll keep pushing for increased regulation of the agrochemical industry — including full disclosure, buffer zones and comprehensive soil, water and air testing.
He also supports “incentivizing locally owned small farms that produce food grown in a sustainable manner.”
He suggests low property taxes for farmland and for farmers’ homes as a way to help subsidize locally grown food.
When it comes to agriculture, Hooser opposes the dairy that’s proposed for Kauai’s South Shore.
“Due to the excessive amount of animal waste generated, large Commercial Animal Feeding Operations operating near aquifers, coastlines or residential areas should be carefully regulated,” Hooser said.
He said he’s against increasing taxes for Kauai’s citizens as well as opposing the increasing property taxes for local resident homeowners.