VIDEO: Sol Kahoohalahala, Mayoral Candidate Profile, Decision 2010 MauiNOW.com
Sol Kahoohalahala, 2010 candidate for Maui Mayor, Transcript:
Introduction: Aloha, my name is Sol Kahoohalahala. I’m from the island of Lanai, and with your support, I’d like to be the next mayor of Maui County. There are a few things that I think we should all give serious thought to in this upcoming election. That’s considering our food security. I think it’s time for Maui Nui to consider diversifying our agriculture and being producers of our own food so that we are not going to be as vulnerable as we are. I know currently that we import approximately 90% of the food that we consume in Hawaii, so it is important for us to consider that as an area that we should diversify, and make it an economic
engine for us. To do agriculture, water is going to be an important issue. We need to look at water as a resource that’s finite as something that we have to think about in terms of regenerative and replenishment. So, how we use that drop of water is important. Recycled water has to be a part of the solution for agriculture. And lastly, energy has to be a part of our future, because we are the most isolated islands in the largest ocean on Earth. So it is incumbent on us to take advantage of all of the renewables we have from sun, wind, and ocean currents, so that we can provide the power and energy that we require to live in Hawaii, and make it sustainable for us so that we don’t have to use fossil fuels. And I’d like your support because that’s the direction we should redirect our islands.
Development: What are your thoughts on smart growth and what will you do to prevent urban sprawl? Answer: Smart Growth to me is something that is not new to Hawaii. If you look back for nearly 2,000 years that the Hawaiian people have been here, they have been people who have been sensitive to their environment. They have been very mindful of their resources, so how they develop and use these islands are a good example of what we might pay attention to and take a look at. As we move forward, how we plan the future and the growth of our islands has to incorporate the idea of being efficient in the use of our resources. We have to look at utilizing our renewables to make that a part of our future so that living can be comfortable and not costly, and making sure that we can feed ourselves, and we have sufficient supplies of natural resources. Planning is an important tool. The Maui Island plan, the Maui County General Plan, should serve as a guidance, but if we look farther back than that–let’s take a look at how Hawaiians viewed planning, and incorporate some of those kinds of concepts where mauka-makai accesses were ensured, water stream flows were ensured, and everyone has the ability to continue to use these resources. That’s how we should be looking at planning–from what has been tried and tested in our past. And in applying some of those concepts as we move forward because they are conducive to our islands. We’ve got to remember we still live on islands in the largest ocean on earth, thousands of miles away from anyone, so smart growth means incorporating all of that, and that’s how we should look at our future.
Permitting: What are your thoughts on the county’s permitting process for B&Bs? Should the approval for B&B’s rest in the hands of council members or the mayor’s appointed planning director? Answer: Looking forward toward permitting B&Bs, it’s an industry that I think has emerged. I was responsible, when I was on the council previously to put this B&B bill in place. What is I think evident today, is that, while we created an opportunity to allow Bed and Breakfasts to be a part of our communities, as time changes and as we move forward, the conditions of our communities also change. So that ordinance needed to be reshaped and amended to make it better than what it was when it first began. Ultimately, I think it is still incumbent on the council to be responsible for permitting, because there may be conditions that are going to be necessary in reshaping the bill to ensure that there’s fairness across the board. And without some kind of oversight by a legislative body or a policy-making body, it might just be placed in discretionary power, and that to me could potentially become a problem. So, oversight by the policy-making body, I think, is a good thing. Placing conditions on moving forward is a good thing because it’s looking at finding balance and fairness, and someone needs to be able to do that, that is not just discretionary. So, I would support the council’s continued oversight over this industry.
Fireworks Ban: Are you in support of or against it? Answer: You know, I think we all grew up with fireworks being a part of a cultural kind of activity. I think, again, when we look at the times and we look at the conditions, obviously our Hawaiian Islands are going through environmental changes that we have very little control over. I do know that in one of the more recent scientific studies of the Hawaiian Islands, they have said that the Hawaiian Islands are warming at a far quicker rate than most places on earth, and that should be a concern to us, because that warming means that our islands are potentially drying up. With that, we are creating areas within the Hawaiian islands that have been in drought conditions for now several years. With that kind of thought in mind, the issue of whether or not we should continue to allow fireworks becomes something that we need to give more consideration to. There are also health issues that have often been raised with the intense amount of smoke that permeates our community. So, given those kinds of concerns, I would be in support of a ban on fireworks, because I think it’s an appropriate policy for what is appropriate in these times.
Transient accommodations tax: If elected to serve, what would you do to ensure that Maui keeps its share of the Transient Accommodations Tax? Answer: The TAT is really controlled by the state legislature, but I think it will be incumbent upon me as mayor of Maui County to be sure that I spend a good quality time–because legislation really is simply majority rules. And if we cannot get the majority to help support our issues here in Maui County, then obviously we would be ineffective. But as your mayor, I think I come with the experience of being at the state legislature for four years, and it is real clear to me that all rule and all laws that are made, really come by a simple majority. And if the TAT is an important part of our income because we are part of the visitor industry, this is something that will continue to support us in that area of tourism. As your mayor, I’m going to continue to network with the legislature to ensure that we can get the majority of both houses–the senate and the house–to help us and be an advocate for that. I look forward to those kinds of opportunities.
Water: What are your plans to improve wastewater treatment on Maui and your thoughts about injection wells? Answer: Currently, we do have the capability of taking waste water and treating it to an R-2 and an R-1 level. R-1 level is the highest level of treatment that makes water clean of pathogens that are within the water–so we do have a capability and the technology to do that right now. The problem we have is that we’re just dumping approximately 80% of that water into injection wells–and that, we know, just by scientific monitoring–theses are having impacts on our ocean and marine environments. (ie: like algae blooms and things like that) I think it’s time for us to look at water as a resource, and that recycled water is just as important a resource as good, clean, pure drinking water that comes from our ground wells. In our administration, as your mayor, that would be a priority–to make sure that we’re going to look at the efficiencies for the use of water, we’re no longer going to be putting them down into injection wells that we know are environmental hazards. That ‘s what I think we should be steering towards in terms of reusable water and the elimination of injection wells.
Closing thoughts: I think that moving forward, what I hope that would resonate with all of you is that it is time for us to be very serious about where we want to be in our future. The Hawaiians have an olelo noeau that says “I ka wa ma mua, (as you’re moving forward), i ka wa ma hope (look at your past),” for the experiences, for the examples of how you can move forward. I think that for these times, it is important for us to be reminded that we need to be serious about our future. So, let’s take a look at where we have come from; let’s understand what the conditions of these times are that make it difficult; and then let’s bear upon our innovation and our leadership to move us in a direction that’s going to be sustainable for our future. So I call upon you to join me in that new voyage to redirect our canoes in Maui Nui, and help us to find a better path that’s going to be based on sustainability; it’s going to be based on regeneratives; and that we’re looking for the generations to come. For more information, go to my website at solformayor.org. I’d like to remind you to don’t forget to vote on September 18th in the Primary. Only the top two vote-getters in the mayoral election can advance to the general–and I want to be one of the two. Mahalo, Thank you very much.