Stacey Moniz is one of four candidates running this year for the Maui County Council seat representing Upcountry.Gladys Baisa, who was first elected in 2006, is termed out this year. Though a political newcomer, Moniz–a Pukalani resident, has spent the last 14 years or so working as executive director of Women Helping Women.
MAUITIME: What is your top priority if elected?
STACEY MONIZ: Increasing public private partnerships to help create more affordable housing. For affordable home ownership, we can partner with nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity or Na Hale o Maui who provides that homes remain affordable in perpetuity. For affordable rentals we can help streamline the process for building ohana units or small cottages but we need to ensure they’re not being built as illegal vacation rentals (creating an enforcement arm of our real property tax department is also a priority for me to ensure that everyone pays a FAIR tax rate).
MT:What event in your life best prepared you for public office?
SM: Running Women Helping Women has been the biggest learning experience of my life. I began as an advocate (for myself and my children at first) helping victims of domestic violence navigate complex, multiple systems. When I became Executive Director I didn’t realize I would learn so much about managing people, creating teams, facilitating partnerships and collaborations among diverse groups (us and the police, prosecutors, etc.) I also learned to negotiate government contracts, research grants and maintain compliance with our funders. I’ve always been a great writer but I needed to be able to articulate a need and speak the tongue of the bureaucrat. I’ve learned to write and support state and federal legislation, I’ve sat on boards of local and national committees, I’ve faced strong opposition and actual rage towards the work I do with grace and humility (most of the time). I think the best preparation has been that I can juggle multiple important challenges, see creative solutions to those challenges and be able to articulate and facilitate collaborations to help resolve these multi faceted problems right here in our community.
MT: Who should be the next President of the United States?
SM: I have supported Hillary Clinton for President because I believe she is the most qualified candidate that has EVER run for President. All of her credentials far exceed any ever brought to the table by any presidential candidate. From Senator to Secretary of State, from equal rights advocate to humanitarian, grassroots community organizing to foreign diplomat, she has it all.
Having said that, and still believing this to be true, I also believe that if 85 percent (conservatively speaking) of the democrats who voted in the Hawaii caucus believe Bernie Sanders is the best candidate, I believe the delegates to the DNC should be voting for Bernie. If we believe in a government by the people for the people that is what should be happening. I believe in so much of what he stands for but my personal challenge with him is that he hasn’t been a democrat until now. I am truly inspired by what he has created and have loved all the points he has raised. I hope the party will come together to elect a powerful democratic team in the White House again.
MT: Which person who previously held the office you’re seeking do you hold up as a model? Why?
SM: It’s easy for me to go directly to Gladys Baisa as she has charted a course very similar to my own. She was a mentor to me when I became Executive Director at Women Helping Women as she was the ED at MEO. She has a human services background much like my own and has worked with challenging issues of homelessness, poverty, the under privileged for many years, very similar to my own experiences. She also oversaw a multi-million-dollar business with the same kinds of challenges any business faces and she served as a mentor for many nonprofit leaders.
MT: What’s your opinion on changing the County Charter to a county manager form of government? Why?
SM: There were parts of that plan that I liked very much, mainly the need for minimum qualifications for department directors and a path to leadership within the departments. I believe that the current system doesn’t reward staff for outstanding leadership in their roles as they are not eligible to become a department director unless they become political. Also, with each election the department heads change and new, inexperienced leaders take over which I believe leads to low morale among the staff. If staff had the possibility of becoming department director, they may be more inspired to do a better job, create efficiency within departments and develop more inter-departmental collaborations.
MT: Do you support changing the County Charter to allow the mayor, as opposed to the Liquor Commission, to appoint the Liquor Control Director?
SM: I don’t know that the Mayor is the best person to make this decision but I do think that the current system is not effective. I think we need to look at the makeup of the commission as with all of our commissions and have a fair and balanced group to make this important decision.
MT: What should the county do that it isn’t already doing to alleviate homelessness?
SM: I think we need to honestly make this a priority of the county. There are a lot of politicians who talk about needing to address this issue that is directly related to affordable housing, but based on results, the county is not committed to affordable housing. If we were, we would be building more, fast tracking more affordable workforce housing, etc. Instead, for whatever reason we have had huge, experienced affordable housing investors leave Maui saying they cannot work within this environment of red tape and barriers to building. Yet at the same time, we are building multi-million-dollar homes and developments that move forward quickly. We need to hold our government officials accountable for their decisions that put affordable housing and homelessness last and put big business interests and off island investors in front.
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?
SM: Not all that land is created equally. I am hopeful that A&B will keep their commitment to maintaining the diversified agriculture and especially to give smaller farmers a chance to grow more food on our island. This is an excellent opportunity to increase our local food production and the great thing is that the infrastructure is there already at least for bringing water to the land. There will still be a great need to enrich the soil. I’ve met with cattle ranchers who say that A&B is already looking into increasing locally grown beef production and hopefully there are ways to do regenerative farming techniques and rotate various cover crops that will add nutrients to the soil while providing a food source for grazer animals.
Getting back to food production, I think if they could lease out smaller plots of land and support smaller farmers with infrastructure like tractors and big ticket items that farmers could share, creating collaborative groups who share experience and knowledge to help each other grow more food. The county may need to provide an expert to provide technical support to up and coming farmers: many farmers are great at growing food but not skilled at filling out paperwork to provide them with resources that are available to them. We as a county are going to need to provide support to encourage more people to go into farming or to increase their capacity and grow more food. This is another excellent opportunity for public private partnership and I hope we encourage more community collaboration. This is an excellent opportunity for compost builders, contract laborers, volunteers and people with knowledge, skills and resources to come together for the greater good of the community.
Photo courtesy Stacey Moniz