VIDEO: Mike White, Makawao Council Candidate Profile, Decision 2010 MauiNOW.com

September 6, 2010, 6:48 PM HST · Updated September 6, 6:48 PM
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Mike White, 2010 Makawao Council candidate profile, Transcript: 

Introduction:  Good morning, my name is Mike White.  I’m running for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia council seat and I’m a life-time resident of Hawaii.  My family first settled on Kauai and Niihau over 160 years ago.  Although I look very haole, and have a very haole name, I’ve been very much a part of this place.  I’ve been on Maui for 25 years managing the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and developing an award-winning Hawaiian cultural program–our Pookela Project, and working very much in the community for all of these 25 years.  It’s given me a great prospective on government, the visitor industry, and general business work, together to

Click image to view VIDEO of our interview with Makawao Council candidate Mike White.

make Maui a great place to live.  I’m running this year because I feel that we’ve got some real challenges with our economy.  The council, although it doesn’t have lots of tools in its chest to work on the economy, I think there are things that we can do to bring a little more prosperity to Maui and with all of us working together, I’m sure we can get there.  A couple of things that I think we can do are to streamline the permitting process, make investing in Maui more predictable, understandable, and fair, work on our water problems, and drill more wells so we don’t have to depend on the stream flow as much.  Also, I think that although it is a fairly unpopular thing to do, we need to focus more of our energies and resources on visitor promotion, because it’s been shown in other places, when you spend a little more money doing those things, that you bring in more visitors.  Since 75% of our economy is based on visitor generation of business, that’s a smart thing to do at this time.  

Paia Bypass:  What’s more important—traffic relief or parking in Paia Town?  Is there a way to meet the needs of both motorists and merchants?  Answer:  The challenges in Paia are such that the traffic relief is really a long term problem.  It doesn’t have any short-term fixes.  We’ve got the Paia Bypass in now, and that’s helping the traffic situation significantly.  The parking is the problem that I would focus on first because that has the most economic benefits for the businesses in Paia.  It has to be done in a way that we recognize that the historic towns that we have in Paia, Haiku and Makawao, really have to be protected because our visitors love them, and we all love them as well.  So I would focus on parking that is easy to find, but not easy to see.  In addition to that, to help the traffic, I would encourage more, and more of you to use the Maui Bus service to the greatest extent possible.

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Budget:  Given the tough economic climate, would you support further cuts to non-profit programs?  What are your priorities for continued funding? Answer: I wouldn’t support further cuts to non-profit programs.  Many of them are providing services to those who have come to rely on them significantly, and are the least able to take care of themselves.  So, I’m not in favor of making cuts that would hurt the people that are most vulnerable in our community.  This is an island of aloha–we have to show that aloha in ways that maybe other people are comfortable doing.  But we on Maui are comfortable making things easier for those that are in not as good a situation as many of us are.  The priorities, if we were to set some, I would focus on seniors and kids as my first priority.  But again, I’m not in favor of cutting them (non-profits).  What I would be in favor of–from time to time–subjecting any non-profit that is getting money from Maui County–to a performance audit, just so that we make sure that we’re spending the money right and we’re spending it well.  I would also suggest that be done for many of the County departments as well. 

Public Safety:  There seems to have been a higher incidence in recent news of shootings on Maui.  What are your thoughts on ways to improve public safety on Maui? Answer: Maui is a really safe place to be.  It’s a wonderful community. We all support each other and if you look at the statistics, I found a 2008 report that shows that violent crime on Maui is much lower than all the other islands.  So I think our police department is doing a great job and we all take care of each other anyway.  As we point out in our hotel, security is everybody’s business, and to improve public safety we just need to make sure that we’re helping the police to do their job and continue to make Maui a great place to live, a safe place to visit and to live. 

Closing thoughts: One thing that I think is important for the voters to understand is that we’re in a challenging time.  The council needs to be working together and working hard, and working with the administration.  With my 25 years of business experience, 25 years of working in community organizations, five years of legislative experience, and my cultural and preservation experience –I bring a set of skills to the council that I think is very critical at this time.  We need to work out of this economic challenge, we need to focus on working together.  With my skills and my experience, I feel confident that I can be a very big help to the Maui County Council and I appreciate your time.

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