KEKAHA — Kekaha resident and retired Army Ranger Harold Vidinha is running for Kauai County Council because he said people discuss problems among themselves, but nothing ever happens to bring forth change.
“I believe you don’t criticize without a solution,” the 66-year- old said.
It’s important for the government and the community to take care of what we have, such as Kauai’s neighborhood centers and parks, he said.
“These are things that are fixable now,” Vidinha said. “We don’t need to look for big funding. They’re things we can fix now and make usable for the communities. I went to the different neighborhood centers and went to the parks, it’s just the little things that I look at that would make it more enjoyable for the locals.”
Much of the infrastructure is being neglected, he said, so his focus is on taking care of the people, listening to them and fixing what Kauai already has.
“Right now a lot of the neighborhood centers are supposed to be certified kitchens, the appliances, 10-15 years old,” he said. “How much money does it take to put a new stove or refrigerator, clean it up and make it usable?”
Another issue of concern for Vidinha is the lack of affordable housing for local families.
“They talk about affordable housing, but for who? In Hanamaulu, they’ve got affordable housing, $300,000,” he said. “I have met a couple — I haven’t gone too much far out of the Westside — but there’s a lot of homeless who are living homeless by choice because they can’t afford the house, so they’re saving.”
“I look at that and I say, ‘It’s bad it’s got to be done like that,’” Vidinha said.
His solution would be to give Habitat for Humanity the land, so people could build their own homes.
“Why can’t we put Habitat for Humanity in the picture for affordable homes? It would be a lot cheaper,” he said.
Better management of bed-and-breakfasts and vacation rentals that cause taxes to rise will help level the playing field and open the doors for more local families to have homes, Vidinha said.
“On one hand we say we want to keep our kids here on Kauai, on the other hand we’re letting it go wild and they can’t afford to live here, so tackling the housing issue both on the affordable part and trying to make the playing field a little bit level as far as ownership on Kauai,” he said.
Vidinha said he would like to build a road by the mountains from Hanapepe all the way to Hanalei.
Coming up through the ranks in the military, Vidinha said he learned being a leader doesn’t make you smart about everything. He had subordinates that knew more than he did, and he depended on them to make the final decisions.
“In a collective position like the County Council, we need to talk openly and come up with the ideas, but some way it has to start,” he said. “The ideas have to be put on the table and then we need to negotiate on that and see how it can be done.”
Bethany Freudenthal can be reached at 652-7891 or bfreudenthal@thegarden island.com