So this year MauiTime has emailed 2016 election questionnaires to nearly every candidate* running for office that’s relevant to Maui County voters. For the next few months–until the Primary and General election or (we can only hope) a giant meteor destroys the world–we’ll post the results as we get them. Since the Primary Election takes place on Aug. 13, we’ll give priority to candidates appearing on that ballot.
There were actually three separate questionnaires, for national, state and local candidates, though the first four questions are the same for all candidates. The questions touch on issues important to MauiTime and our readers.
So here we go. First up is Alan Kaufman, a Kula resident running for the Maui County Council seat representing Makawao, Haiku and Paia (it’s currently held by Mike White, who’s also running for reelection)…
MAUITIME: What is your top priority if elected?
ALAN KAUFMAN: I would make every effort to end the bickering between Council and the Mayor’s office. Placing blame is not a substitute for constructive action. How we disagree with each other says more about those involved than the issues under discussion.
MT: What event in your life best prepared you for public office?
AK: Seeking public office has not been my goal. As a veterinarian I spent 4 decades working side by side with ranchers and farmers throughout Maui County and throughout our state, from South Point to Ni‘ihau, from Hana to Halawa Valley. Maui is at a pivotal moment in time, where decisions made by the political leadership will dramatically shape our future. Agriculture, once our economic mainstay, has become marginalized. My service on Council can enable agriculture to retain a voice.
MT: Who should be the next President of the United States?
AK: It is an embarrassing time to be a member of the Republican Party. Barring insurrection, the next President should be the individual who wins the most votes in the Electoral College.
MT: Which person who previously held the office you’re seeking do you hold up as a model? Why?
AK: Gladys Baisa keeps Maui, not her ego, foremost. Rather than rhetoric, her time is spent working and working for consensus.
MT: What’s your opinion on changing the County Charter to a county manager form of government? Why?
AK: That the committee making the recommendation split on a 5-4 vote suggests the reviewed information was highly subject to interpretation. Rather than focus on job descriptions, we should spend more time getting to know the people we elect before we elect them and then pay attention once they are in office. While District Voting is not be a panacea, I’d rank it higher on my to do list than having a County Manager. If we already had a County Manager, council would be arguing with each other rather than the Mayor.
MT: Do you support changing the County Charter to allow the mayor, as opposed to the Liquor Commission, to appoint the Liquor Control Director?
AK: Either option is totally workable. Performance depends on the individual, not on who appoints them.
MT: What should the county do that it isn’t already doing to alleviate homelessness?
AK: For decades this issue has been raised because there is no easy or single answer. One partial answer is to make homes affordable and the tiny house movement is a welcome addition to the discussion. The county should also do more of what it is doing, which means providing additional resources to the social service agencies that are successfully addressing a too small part of the problem.
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?
AK: Until the State Supreme Court rules on what will happen to the water in the East Maui Irrigation system, the future of the Central Valley remains uncertain. Since our State Constitution states that water is a public trust, we can assume that some will go back to the streams, some to the County for the Upcountry system and to relieve the I’ao aquifer, and the balance to Agriculture. The amount of available water will determine what can be grown.
Placing the entire central valley in organic food production has been suggested. While it would be amazing to see that happen, a possible beginning (since it will not be a ballot initiative) is for those with this vision to approach HC&S to negotiate a lease on enough acreage to demonstrate proof of concept and economic viability. Then it would be possible to acquire additional land until the isthmus is growing all that it can grow.
What we do not want to see is an unfortunate patchwork of varying endeavors, only some being successful. That is what happened when sugar on the Big Island was ending 40 years ago. An ideal future is a tapestry of successful agricultural enterprises. What we need next is for individuals to step forward with the ideas, skills and resources to initiate operations.
Photo courtesy Alan Kaufman
* We’ve been unable to locate email addresses for three candidates: Eric Hafner, a Republican running for the 2nd District Congressional district; Tutz Honeychurch, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate; and Arturo Reyes, a Democrat also running for the same U.S. Senate seat. Hafner didn’t return a message left at the phone number on the official State of Hawaii candidates list. A child answered the phone when I tried to call Honeychurch and Reyes’ phone number, though listed on the official candidates’ list, wasn’t working. If you know of any of these candidates, please put them in touch with us.