Maui Election

VIDEO: Don Couch – Candidate Profile 2012

July 24, 2012, 4:59 PM HST
* Updated July 25, 2:09 PM
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Don Couch. Photo by Wendy Osher.

[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge1mB9RfoJk /] Interview and transcription by Wendy Osher

INTRO: Tell us about yourself and your campaign.

Aloha.  I’m Don Couch, and I’m running for Maui County Council, South Maui seat.  Over the last 20 years, I have been involved in the community and the governance of Maui County.  What I’ve learned is that it is very complex and (there are) difficult issues.  In order to make this place a better place to live, you have to look at all sides of an issue, no matter how complex, or how divisive the issue is–as long as you look at all sides of the issue, and do a fair and balanced output, that’s what makes this community better.  If you elect me again, I promise to keep up the good work, and as always, my office is always open to anybody who has any issues.  You can either call me, email me, or come on down and we’ll talk about it.  I have no problems discussing any issue with anybody.  Mahalo.

Question 1:  What are your thoughts on the Pi’ilani Promanade/Outlet Mall? Do you support the project or do you have other ideas for economic diversity and job creation?

The Pi’ilani Promenade project is an interesting project.  I think it was brought about incorrectly.  The developer came up and said this is the way we’re going to do it, no matter what the community says–I think that’s wrong.  That being said, the people have the right–the developer has all entitlements all the way through, that the county can not deny him a permit.  Now, there are some issues with the state that I have written a letter to the state Land Use Commission to see if they agree with all the conditions that were put on the land.  If they agree, then there is nothing left to do, unfortunately.  Hopefully, the state Land Use Commission will take a look at the conditions and make sure that the developer follows those conditions completely.  As far as the project is concerned about jobs, there needs to be all kinds of levels of jobs–beginning level and entry level, all the way to the high end, high paying jobs.  This project probably will be able to provide a lot of jobs in between from the entry level to the mid level and sometimes higher; but they have to have buy-in from the community.  If nobody goes to the mall, then it’s going to fail.  I encourage the developer to come and meet with the people–take their medicine for being as aggressive as they were, come hat in hand to the community, and say look, this is what we’d like to do, give us your input, and allow the community to have some input. 

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Question 2:  The Liquor Commission recently considered a suggested ban on alcohol consumption after 10 p.m. at Kalama Village. What are your thoughts on the proposal and what do you feel is the best solution to address after-hours noise in the neighborhood?

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The proposal, I think, came after many years since about 2006, of complaints from the neighborhood.  As soon as I got into office, there were a lot of complaints about noise in the neighborhood.  I understand that.  If you are living next to an establishment, or in this case a group of establishments, there will be noise.  The whole idea is to be good neighbors and to mitigate some of those noises.  The liquor commission has been trying to work with the owners of the establishments, and apparently they weren’t getting anywhere, so they came up with this law.  I don’t think that’s the way to do it.  I think what they need to do is go to each individual establishment and say, look, after 10 o’clock you’ve got to close your windows, you’ve got to (have) inside music. There’s plenty of establishments there that have inside music, and leave the windows closed, and don’t have the noise issue.  Everybody’s got to play together, or everybody loses.  This is a situation where if you get everybody together, after 10 o’clock, close all the windows, keep the sound in–if you have to turn down the music, turn down the music.  Right now, it’s a situation where one establishment plays a little bit louder music that draws more people, so the other establishment plays louder music, and it just escalates. Everybody has to play nice to get a balance situation.  There are people who live right next door.  Those houses were there–some people have been there since before Kalama Village was put in–other people haven’t.  We have to all get together and do what works for everybody.  I do not want to see the establishments close down because they are a great source of income for the community, and great source of jobs for a lot of people.  You get a lot of good musicians there.  Let’s work together.  Let’s get the establishments working together, and I think they are doing that.  They’ve been working together and lowering the sound.  I haven’t been getting very many complaints since then.  

Question 3:  What can the county do to better address the axis deer population and its impacts on the agricultural sector?

Axis deer is a huge issue on our agricultural sector.  They can come in and destroy complete crops.  They’ve done it numerous times, and it causes the farmers to have to put up huge, ugly, deer fences, and do other mitigation measures.  What the council is doing is we’ve got something before us for some funding for a company to come in and cull the deers, but we need cooperation with the private property owners because they’re concern is liability.  Again, it’s getting everybody to the table.  Let’s see what we can do.  If we can get proper training for the hunters, proper liability releases for the private landowners, and the hunters kill the deer in the correct way–the USDA will give us approval to sell the meat.  What better way to solve this problem is to allow for commercial hunting of the deer and sell the meat here on Maui.  We have a store here that sells frozen venison from Texas–actually axis deer meat from Texas.  There are several other locations here–restaurants–that sell venison in the restaurant, but they have to get it off island. Why?  We’ve got plenty of deer here.  Let’s work together again to make an economic boom, as well as help the farmers by keeping the deer population down.    

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Closing Thoughts:

Again, my name is Don Couch.  I am the current council member for the South Maui seat.  My website is www.doncouch.com, and I’m asking you, if you think I’m doing a good job, if you think you’d like to see me continue, I’m asking you very humbly for you vote.  Mahalo.

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