Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 General Election, Civil Beat asked the candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on a variety of issues and what their priorities would be if elected.
The following came from Kauai County Council candidate Billy DeCosta. Other candidates for the seven positions are Addison Bulosan, Bernard Carvalho, Felicia Cowden, Luke Evslin, Fern Holland, Ross Kagawa, KipuKai Kuali’i, Lila Metzger, Nelson Mukai, Mel Rapozo, Roy Saito, Rachel Secretario and Shirley Simbre-Medeiros.
For background information, head over to Civil Beat’s Election Guide and check out the other candidates on the General Election Ballot.
1. What is the biggest problem facing Kauai County and what would you do about it?
Food security and housing. The average price of 90 percent of our food products imported from abroad has reached an extreme limit. The average price of a house is close to 1 million dollars. Kauai has a lot of unused agricultural land. We must encourage our farmers and farm owners to create a sense of cooperative farming so that many families can benefit from growing food (fruits, vegetables, livestock, eggs, etc.) that can be fed into the cooperative food center.
We need to create a farming/farming hostel style of singles and/or couples living on these lands.
Our county has acquired land to build transitional, affordable and workforce housing. Our past budget provided nearly $15 million to support these projects. But keep in mind that there is a gap group between husband and wife with a combined income of $128,000, which does not qualify for any of our housing projects, but they pay a fair amount of tax just like everyone else.
We need to increase the supply of existing homes by stimulating the construction process. An increase in supply will decrease demand, which will affect prices, the underlying economy. We need to make sure that our local families in the higher income bracket qualify for these homes.
2. In the past four years, Kauai’s north shore has experienced two major weather events that have deprived entire communities of jobs, schools, pharmacies, banks, doctors, and other essential services for several months. Should this change the county’s approach to disaster preparedness, and if so, how?
Natural disasters are always a problem, and it’s not my style to comment after the fact. We always get together and do our work. At the time of the 2018 flood, I was not yet a council member, but I brought supplies that I had organized with my community relations.
That’s how we are in Hawaii, we don’t do it for recognition, we do it because it’s been ingrained in our culture from our grandparents. Another emergency route to the north coast is needed. We need a board that can help the board make decisions if necessary.
3. Kauai has about 14,000 disposal wells that need to be removed by 2050. At an average cost of $15,000 to $30,000 to convert to septic, many homeowners say the switch is not affordable. How can the county help with waste diversion?
The cesspool replacement will affect nearly all 14,000 homeowners. We as a council have made $1 million a year to flip around 30-35 homes each year. It won’t solve the whole problem, but we have the option as a county to contribute more.
We should look at going down the drain instead of the septic, which is more environmentally friendly. That’s why council needs to budget your tax dollars in a fiscally responsible manner to address all of our pressing issues. My degree in business administration with a concentration in economics gives me this mindset to be innovative, efficient and accountable.
4. Traffic on the island of Kauai is getting worse and different areas are facing different problems. What would be your approach to improving Kauai’s transportation problems?
Traffic has been a problem that no politician has successfully solved, but I can tell you that having our tourists stay in tourist areas, eat, shop, walk to the beach and bus to their activities all over the island will limit that amount. number of rental cars on the road.
We need to control our capacity to carry visitors to our island.
5. Do you feel the Governor and Legislature value your county’s issues, or are they too focused on Honolulu and Oahu?
There are 1.2 million people in the state of Oahu, who will obviously get the attention of our political leaders, but if we can diversify into growing food (fruits, vegetables, beef, lamb, eggs, even a small organic dairy serving only Hawaii), we could all benefit. from this diversified economy that will now attract the attention of all politicians.
We must support each island, its people, businesses, resorts and restaurants with locally grown food. Our local fishing and hunting community should have access to community kitchens and slaughterhouses to process their catch and create value-added products to feed into the local economy, creating a sense of sustainability (eg ground marlin mixed with wild boar). and burgers to make sausages to serve in a hotel restaurant for tourists). It’s time to start thinking outside the box.
6. For more than a year, the median single-family home price on Kauai has exceeded $1 million. What would you do to address the lack of low-income, affordable, and moderate housing?
Put more funding into this county’s housing projects as long as we can balance our budget to deliver the rest of our county services and public safety. We need to increase building in our city center where the infrastructure is ready to accommodate. Live and work in the same area.
We need to increase our rental housing to accommodate our younger generation returning from college. We need to increase the supply of single-family homes to meet the demand, which will drive down prices.
7. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, local businesses are struggling to hire and retain workers, leading to shortages of everything from grocery store cashiers and restaurant workers to teachers and school bus drivers. What, if anything, would you do to address this economic instability?
Many adults were not working because our government was subsidizing their shortages. Time to get back to work.
Work hard, save, invest, and make smart financial decisions so that one day you can breathe and float above this suffocating financial crisis. There is no magic answer, what is required from the government is determination and determination, not deals.
8. Kauai’s landfill at Kekaha will soon be exhausted, and there is still no timely plan to build a new one. What can the county council do to tackle what could become a litter crisis for the island?
It’s long overdue, place a new landfill. Don’t blame if no one has an answer. We need about 75-100 hectares, there should be an area where we can work together and agree to make it happen, the garbage belongs to all of us.
This may be our most pressing problem that will cause us the most trouble.
9. Excessive tourism can degrade the environment, threaten biodiversity, contribute to the wear and tear of infrastructure, create traffic and disrupt neighborhoods. What more can be done to better manage the island’s tourism sector?
It is necessary to manage the tourists, it is necessary to keep the tourists in the designated areas for their stay and activities in that area.
10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic inequality. What if you could use this moment to reinvent Hawaii, build on what we’ve learned, and create a better state, better ways of doing business? Please share your one Big Idea for Kauai County. Be innovative, but be specific.
I am currently working on this idea, and if elected for another two years, it will become a reality:
The farm is a co-operative farm where cattle are raised and owned by breeding herds and so-called ‘cattle slaughter’ ships will be purchased by families (as a deposit of around £400 per calf). Instead of sending these calves to mainland feedlots where they would normally be, the farm would benefit financially. These cattle were bred to market weight in two different categories:
— Feeds on grain (alfalfa and corn from our local company in Kauai called Hartung).
These families will pay a pasture or grain fee when their animals (tagged and registered) reach a slaughter weight of 800 to 1,000 pounds. Their cow will be taken to a local slaughterhouse at the customer’s expense. This process will ensure food safety and allow our families on Kauai to enjoy either a grass-fed ribeye steak, fresh hamburger and stew meat, and/or a marbled grain-fed ribeye steak, just like at Costco.
These fees (calf, pasture or grain and slaughter deposit) will be paid to the ranch by the families who own the cow and can compete with what it would cost them at Costco or Safeway.