This year, there are three people running for the Maui County Council seat representing Makawao, Haiku and Paia. Mike White, the current Chairperson of the County Council, is running for reelection, and he’s got two challengers: Alan Kaufman (click here to read his Know Your Candidate feature) and Trinette Furtado.
A single mom, Furtado is an activist who’s been deeply involved in various fights around the county: the protests against the solar telescope atop Haleakala, the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations and sugar cane burning, to name three.
MAUITIME: What is your top priority if elected?
TRINETTE FURTADO: My top priority is addressing our housing crisis. We are in a housing crisis when median income families and single parent families are finding it difficult to rent or purchase a home. I will address the TVR issue (illegally operating TVRs and enforcement) and examine current county resources (currently held properties and existing infrastructures), to offer more housing and/or assistance to acquire housing (rental or purchase, dependent on income and economic situation). Our county needs to not only identify what can currently be repurposed, what can be purchased or bargained for and what can be done to ensure future considerations.
MT: What event in your life best prepared you for public office?
TF: I donʻt think that there is any singular event that has best prepared me for public office. I donʻt think anyone can truly be prepared for the myriad of issues and things that come up while in public office. If anything, I believe that my ability to take on and handle different situations based on the details of those specific situations, are what best prepares me for public office. One must deal with many different types of people with many different types of issues who all want assistance. I think its more a set of character traits like compassion, understanding and the willingness to listen, that best prepare one for public office. These things are necessary when trying to form a relationship with the rest of our community.
MT: Who should be the next President of the United States?
TF: Bernie Sanders
MT: Which person who previously held the office you’re seeking do you hold up as a model? Why?
TF: There is no one who has previously held the office I am seeking whom I would consider any type of role model for me. I count Kaleikoa Ka`eo, Pua Case, Dr. Kalama Niheu, Walter Ritte and Keala Kelly amongst those who I consider to be my role models. These are people who continue to have fierce aloha for this ‘āina and who continue to protect and defend it in any way possible.
MT: What’s your opinion on changing the County Charter to a county manager form of government? Why?
TF: I believe we need to let the people decide on whether or not to continue the form of government we have now. I remind you that this system only came into play in 1969 with the election of Elmer Cravalho as the first mayor, upon the change from the (territorial) Board of Supervisors to our current system. Times were changing, the population was expanding and new considerations for sustained and future planning supposedly necessitated the change from a Board to a Mayor system.
We are once again at a time when our population is expanding, our demographics are changing and we require a leader that is competent, knowledgeable and transparent. We need someone to head the Corporation that is our County government, with experience and an eye towards efficiency and accountability. We need a manager.
MT: Do you support changing the County Charter to allow the mayor, as opposed to the Liquor Commission, to appoint the Liquor Control Director?
TF: No, I do not support changing the County Charter to allow the mayor to appoint the Liquor Control Director. The mayor may furnish a name or names of those s/he wishes to place in the position, but like the current practice of mayor appointed Department heads, we arenʻt guaranteed that the Liquor Control Director will have adequate experience or knowledge of the responsibilities of the position. This is one of the reasons I strongly oppose allowing the mayor this appointment as well.
MT: What should the county do that it isn’t already doing to alleviate homelessness?
TF: The County should institute inclusive zoning for ALL new development projects and impose taxes on empty homes that are investment properties. This could possibly free up already constructed homes would be rented out (and partially subsidized by the county) to needy families.
MT: HC&S is closing at the end of this year–what do you think A&B should do with the 37,000 acres that were used for growing sugar?
TF: I believe that A&B first needs to examine and seriously consider any and ALL possible claims on portions of that land from allodial title holders or lineal descendants with royal patents or true titles to those lands. After discerning which lands are leased public lands and which have claims to them, A&B needs to look critically at the remaining lands and pursue a diversified model of agricultural stewardship of the land that takes raising livestock, growing food, providing crops for industry (materials), agricultural education and agritourism into consideration. Maui needs to do more than grow a mono crop; we need to grow our own food, lessen our dependence on imports and become more food secure.
Photo courtesy Trinette Furtado