LIHUE — Mel Rapozo said he has a good working relationship with the Kauai Police Department and the Police Commission.
If elected to a seventh term on the County Council, he will ensure that police officers are well-equipped to do their jobs and will take care of citizens, but will also be held accountable for their actions, he said.
“I have referred concerns to both the commission as well as the police administration for further review,” Rapozo said. “I will continue to do that to ensure that everyone is accountable for their actions. The body camera program is one that I support completely. This will protect both officers and citizens by documenting all contact by officers.”
With a background in law enforcement at KPD, the 51-year-old Kapaa resident said he wants to make Kauai safer by providing public safety departments with the tools they need. He also wants to begin working on a beat expansion plan.
“We have a great police chief that’s made great advances in the department,” he said. “I oftentimes lead that charge. Some people think I am biased to the cops because I used to be a cop, but no, I am biased towards public health and safety. Police, fire and civil defense. They need the tools and they do a good job in justifying their request.”
Rapozo, who served in the Hawaii Air National Guard and retired after 21 years of service, said he would tackle affordable housing by working “with major landowners to acquire parcels of land so that we can attract affordable home developers to Kauai.”
“We must incentivize affordable home development so that these homes can be built in the shortest time possible,” he said.
Rapozo’s main areas of concern for government and the island are public safety, solid waste, traffic congestion, homelessness and drug abuse.
Rapozo, who has owned and operated M&P Legal Support Services, LLC, for the past 19 years, said he believes in controlling unnecessary spending.
“The council must do a better job in ensuring that budgeted expenses are necessary expenses,” Rapozo said. “We must scrutinize all funding requests to ensure that monies spent are for things that are needed, rather than wanted. We must utilize performance audits to identify inefficiencies in the county, and work to correct them.”
Reducing the size of government over time, by attrition, is one way to “do more with less,” he said.
“We have done this in the Office of Council Services, and I expect the administration to do the same,” he said.
Rapozo wants to pursue alternative methods — incineration to converting the garbage to power — to disposing of trash piling up at the Kekaha landfill.
“The county is looking at various different technologies; I don’t know what they are,” he said. “When Kekaha fills up and we have nowhere to throw that trash, the fine from Environmental Protection Agency and the health department is very significant. Something that we cannot afford. We need to find another way.”
Rapozo has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and was once a private investigator. He has 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.