Council candidates discuss legislation toward climate change

LIHU‘E — What candidates for the Kaua‘i County Council would be willing to do to mitigate climate change was the focus of what may be the only forum prior to the general election.

The forum was hosted by the Community Coalition of Kaua‘i.

One of the questions 13 of the 14 candidates who appeared via Zoom on Wednesday tackled was about legislation or bold ideas they’d like to propose toward decarbonization and the principles of aloha ‘aina.

Some candidates, including Bernard Carvalho Jr., pointed to the data already available through the county as a guiding star. Carvalho, who was mayor when the county’s General Plan Update went through in 2018, said river and stream management is one of the most important ways to take care of the island.

“It’s not only the county, it’s nonprofits, businesses (who need to help) manage the rivers and streams to mauka to makai,” he said.

Carvalho, also highlighted the ‘Aina Aloha Economic Futures initiative, which the council passed a resolution to work toward earlier this week, as did incumbent candidates KipuKai Kuali‘i and Mason Chock and candidate Richard Fukushima.

Chock, who co-introduced the resolution with Kuali‘i Wednesday, explained that expanding on current efforts and diversifying the economy could be done through fisheries, production and technology.

But Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad suggested the county needs to do an “aggressive survey to understand our contributions” and produce a database that’ll have information like rainfall and coastal erosion.

“We need to understand how our island is responding to the problems,” she said.

Dr. Addison Buloson countered that bold legislation would be electrifying every vehicle. “It’ll be expensive, but we need to put our money (there).” Which was a point Mike Dandurand made later in the forum, citing the need to eliminate single-use plastics.

Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, turning her focus to tourism, opined, “Are we really doing enough in other areas to balance (aircraft operations)?”

That’s a principle current Councilmember Felicia Cowden touched on, trying to find the balance of not only “good habits” but how we operate as a society. Cowden brought up social-enterprise opportunities, like providing housing options for the houseless community where they can farm and be self-sustaining.

“The more every place on the planet starts to localize, the better off we will all be,” Cowden said. “That’s something I think we can do.”

Other candidates focused on how increased agriculture infrastructure could be the solution, including Ed Justus and Billy De Costa. Both explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has effected supply chains, and that can be exacerbated in the future. Both pushed for more sustainable farming, De Costa describing a cycle to use organic waste in farming.

Incumbent Councilmember Luke Evslin explained that whatever is suggested must be done with the balance of economic crisis in the wake of COVID-19 and without putting a burden on the planet.

Candidates were also asked to speak on initiatives they see themselves, if elected, were to initiate in the next two years, and describe their contributions to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The forum was co-sponsored by Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, Surfrider Foundation of Kaua‘i, Community Coalition for Kaua‘i, Zero Waste Kaua‘i and the Kaua‘i Women’s Caucus. General Election ballots will be mailed out Oct. 9, according to the state Office of Elections, and must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. Mailman Mike September 25, 2020 7:09 am Reply

    It’s good too see the council candidates realize there are many bigger real issues to work on than trying to legislate weather change.

  2. Felicia Cowden September 25, 2020 7:30 am Reply

    This article missed my message. My two main points were watershed management and better control over the building of hardened surfaces in saturated areas. I emphasized the value of the aina aloha economic future resolution we passed the day before to financially prioritize how we manage the health of the land. I am only credited with the later circular economy example of a social enterprise that assists self-empowered living for people without assets rather than the public supporting those struggling. The April 18 flood was my compelling reason for running for office. Bridging the layers of government authority to address this challenge has been a high focus in my first term in office.

  3. Colin McCleod September 25, 2020 8:26 am Reply

    What a mountainous ration of drivel and nonsense. That the council would waste resources on this fruitless endeavor reveals their towering ignorance of the IMPORTANCE of CO2 & the whole carbon cycle of life. The abundance of CO2 has done nothing except promote the explosive greening of the earth.
    These hacks need to focus on areas where they can make a real difference…like fixing the roads and parks and, reducing spending across the board.
    Colin McCleod

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