w Editor’s note: This is the 10th in a series of profiles on those running for Kauai County Council. Fourteen candidates are running for seven two-year seats.
LIHUE — Growing up on Kauai with strong family support and the support of teachers and coaches has given County Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro, 37, the ability to make tough decisions.
Elected for the first time in 2014, and then again in 2016, Kaneshiro, who is married and expecting his first child in February, is seeking his third council term.
Kaneshiro, who grew up in Koloa and resides in Lihue, is employed as a project manager at Grove Farm.
Before making a decision that will impact the island, he said he looks at the facts and explains why he is voting a specific way. He balances his decision making with homegrown values of honesty, integrity, working hard and bringing honor to the family name, he said.
“For the most part, I think people respect the decision, although they may not agree with it all the time, they respect my decision-making process and for the most part because I grew up here, I think they’re thinking I making the right decision,” Kaneshiro said.
Being on the council, learning the processes and how important it is to be a voice of reason has been an interesting experience, he said.
“People always say you can talk about it, or you can do something about it. For me, I’d rather do something about it,” Kaneshiro said.
As a councilmember, creating housing that local people can afford is something he’ll continue to work on.
“It’s difficult because your housing cost is your housing cost. No matter what you do you’ll have to pay for material, you’re going to have to pay for labor, you’re going to have to pay for land, you’re going to have to pay for infrastructure. By the time you add up all of those, sometimes the cost doesn’t end up being affordable anymore,” he said.
The council needs to look at cutting costs and discerning whether there are stumbling blocks in the process of building affordable homes, he said.
“We work closely with the housing department, ask them what’s working, what’s not working, ask the Planning Department. The one thing we can do is address these stumbling blocks, another thing is how we develop and where we develop,” Kaneshiro said.
The community, he said, doesn’t want to see urban sprawl, it doesn’t want to see developments go onto agricultural land or open lands, he said.
“I think you’ll see more of a move that we develop in urban areas, develop in areas that have infrastructure and maybe look more toward increasing density instead of developing new areas out of the urban core area,” Kaneshiro said.
The budget and finance committee chair said one of the most important aspects of being a councilmember is to keep a close eye on the county budget.
“We’re the ones that approve the county budget. We’re the ones that go through it, we make cuts, we make adds and we’re the ones that ultimately approves it or disapproves it and that is probably the biggest sword that we swing and that is the most important part of our job, I think, to pass a responsible budget,” he said.
Kaneshiro said it’s easy to let the budget go.
“Not being disciplined in the budget, spending our reserve money down, we can hurt the county for years to come. It’s easy to spend money, but it’s not easy to save and be disciplined with the money,” he said.
This council, he said, has been a lot more focused by passing a reserve fund policy and a structured and balanced fund policy, Kaneshiro said.
In the past they had no idea how much money was needed, how much they wanted, Kaneshiro said.
“We didn’t have a qualitative or quantitative basis for it and now we do, so it’s easier to say, this is how much money we need in the reserve and then to be disciplined not to pull money from the reserve,” he said.
Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.