The Garden Island is asking the same five questions of all 13 Kauai County Council candidates, to help residents decide who to vote for on Nov. 8.
Ross Kagawa, incumbent, is seeking re-election. He is running on a platform that includes cutting government spending and trimming the county budget.
TGI: What’s your plan to improve transportation on Kauai?
Kagawa: To improve transportation, I plan to continue working with our state Legislature, primarily our Kauai legislators, on traffic congestion measures and funding for both Kapaa and the Westside.
Obviously, our state needs to step up to the plate and do something soon. They collect an awful lot of taxes and fees from our local residents including income taxes, GET taxes, fuel taxes, car registration fees, etc. Our residents deserve some relief from the traffic congestion that has been in existence for far too long. On the county end, we need to get our county administration to aggressively attack backlogs in road repaving and bridge repairs that continue to deteriorate.
Personally I believe that in recent years, the administration has been primarily focused on walkways, bikeways and beatification projects. Given the current financial state of our county, I hope we can convince the administration to fix what we have before we do these road beatification type projects.
It really comes down to “nice to have” versus “need to fix.” Simple as that.
TGI: How do you balance the role of tourism and the economy with the needs of residents?
Kagawa: The best thing we can do to support tourism and our local residents is to aggressively fix our infrastructure, like our parks, roads, bridges, etc., while minimizing the amount of taxes and fees that we collect from our tourist industry and our local residents, primarily the middle and low income classes.
Cutting government waste and unnecessary projects like road beautification projects on functional streets like Hardy and Rice streets would free up funding for much needed existing projects like Olohena Road repaving.
TGI: What can be done to alleviate the tax burden on residents?
Kagawa: We should not increase any taxes at this time. Local residents in the middle and lower classes are struggling as it is with enormous federal and state tax burdens. The county needs to learn to do more with less; increased taxes should be a last resort.
We also need to look at re-establishing a cap on local resident’s property taxes to eliminate significant increases that occur from speculation, such as the North Shore and Poipu.
TGI: What do you see are the top two priorities for Kauai?
Kagawa: Fix our infrastructure and do more with less.
TGI: What assets will you bring to the County Council?
Kagawa: Common-sense decision-making with a sincere desire to help our local people to make Kauai the best place in the world to live and raise our families.