Council Members Visit Molokai
Six Maui County Council members and one candidate visited Molokai on Oct. 7, giving voters a chance to hear about their plans and passions before the Nov. 4 elections.
Council Chair Gladys Baisa, running for her fifth and final two-year term in office, hosted a luncheon and invited fellow councilmembers Mike Victorino and Don Couch, Jr., who are also seeking re-election, as well a new face to the political scene, Council candidate Ka`ala Buenconsejo.
“I’m delighted that Council Chair Baisa…invited her colleagues to come to Molokai,” said Robert Stephenson, President of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce. “The access to the council is very good, and they’re very receptive.”
Nearly 50 Molokai residents, ranging from farmers to teachers to business owners, attended the private event.
Baisa said some of the issues that concern her most on Molokai are with seniors and youth.
“We’re always told that the seniors and the youth could use a lot more transportation,” said Baisa. “…[Also] housing for the seniors [and] programs for youth. The facilities for youth to be able to entertain themselves, whether it’s parks or pools or whatever it is that kids need.”
Candidates also addressed the issue of Maui County housing. The challenge with affordable housing, said Baisa, is that the law-mandated housing prices, which are 50 percent of the median income, don’t create enough profit for building developers, an issue that Buenconsejo has his eye on as well.
“Being a father of three … I just want to make sure that our future generations will always have a place to call home,” said Buenconsejo.
Victorino also hopes his kids can come home to an economy capable of supporting them and their families. Victorino said he focuses his proposals on cutting down government spending by “making our departments more businesslike” through computerization or other modern methods.
“We have gone with computerization, we have gone with other efficiency programs,” he said, mentioning one in particular that can track where cars go and how much gas they use. “… A number of departments have done a lot of good things to improve their efficiency.”
Couch, meanwhile, hopes certain bills from the Council’s Planning Committee, of which he is chair, will contribute to a stronger Maui County economy. One, the Home Business Bill allows residents to run businesses from their home as long as they adhere to rules regulating hours, space and business signs.
“You guys are here, propping up this economy,” said Couch. “… We realize that we have to help you guys out, because you have some issues here with jobs and whatnot.”
Later that evening, rain didn’t stop more than 200 Molokai residents from coming to the Community Health Center for a dinner hosted by Councilmember Stacy Helm Crivello, who represents the Friendly Isle and is running for re-election unopposed.
The event, an evening of free food and entertainment, featured short speeches by councilmembers Mike White and Don Guzman in addition to the councilmembers who attended Baisa’s luncheon.
“During the short time that we’ve been on the council, we’ve strengthened our economy, we’ve cared for our community. … And most of all, we’ve been fiscally responsible,” said Guzman, who, as the youngest council member, said he’s “just getting warmed up.”
Crivello said that the reason she’s passionate about being part of the council is because local government is “into the heartbeat and the pulse of the community.” Some issues that Crivello wants to tackle in her second term deal with housing and employment.
“On Maui, it’s homes that our locals can afford,” said Crivello. “Just coming home these past couple weeks, I’m noticing some homeless people that are not Molokai homeless, but I don’t know where they’re from. So that would be a concern I would like to deal with.”
On a later visit to Molokai, White said his position on the council has also allowed him the chance to impact Molokai and the Maui County community as a whole.
“The mayor last year had taken the upgrades for the Mitchell Pauole Center out of his version for the budget, so Stacy [Crivello] and I decided we need to put that back in,” explained White. “… It’s an important project for Molokai because it’s your gathering place.”