County Council candidate profile: Wayne Nishiki
Wayne K. Nishiki, 66
OCCUPATION: Current Maui County Councilman for South Maui
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Attended Maui Community College
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Served in the U.S. Army; Save Honolua Coalition
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Past and current Maui County Councilman (South Maui)
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
I care deeply for Maui County and the State of Hawaii. It’s where I was born and raised, and where my children and grandchildren are being raised. It’s vital that we not lose the lifestyle and environmental resources that make Maui County so special. It’s heartbreaking to see residents out of work, small businesses closing down and families having to move to the Mainland. I believe that I have the experience and ability to help our economy and put our residents back to work, while continuing to protect our environment.
HOW CAN MAUI COUNTY DIVERSIFY ITS ECONOMY,
SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS AND CREATE JOBS?
I’ll discuss this again in the question immediately after this, but I believe that we can diversify our economy and create jobs with responsible and planned development. Jobs can come from developing affordable housing, water storage reservoirs, reclaimed water lines for irrigation and alternative energy projects. Government should be supporting farmers and other small businesses, including bed and breakfasts and other short-term rentals (so long as the surrounding neighbors and those immediately impacted are notified and allowed to share concerns). Government should assist and work toward public/private ventures, such as: (1) Immediately building our fire station on Molokai and the police station in Kihei; (2) Developing our South Maui Regional Park; (3) Working with state agencies to build a high school and gymnasium in South Maui. Government must also discontinue the use of injection wells, which are polluting our nearshore waters, destroying our reefs and killing our marine life. Our economy is largely tourism-based, and therefore, the environment is our economy. If we fail to protect our environment, our visitor industry — which provides jobs for our residents — cannot remain healthy. Reusing R-1 water would also create a new water source necessary for affordable housing, ag parks, a South Maui High School and for our farmers.
WHAT ARE THE THREE KEY ISSUES IN THE 2010 ELECTIONS,
AND HOW WOULD YOU ATTACK THEM?
First: Maui County’s most important issue is the economy and putting our residents back to work. These have been the darkest economic times in recent history, with residents out of work, small businesses closing down and families having to move to the Mainland. I mentioned many of my points in the question immediately above.
Second: Keeping taxes as low as possible while not cutting services. I believe the public is demanding that government do more with less and keep taxes as low as possible. During the past budget session, I introduced a proposal that added, not cut, positions. Yet, these positions will assist the county in collecting nearly $19 million from the backlog of real property tax appeals; nearly $15.7 million in delinquent taxes; about $425,000 from ag verification and about $250,000 from Home Exemption Enforcement. These add up to over $41 million in additional revenue that can provide new parks, police and fire stations and services like “meals on wheels” for our residents — without raising taxes.
Third: Moving toward self-sustainability, renewable energy and cultural conservation. I believe self-sustainability is essential. Sustainability means assuring that our present and future generations’ needs will be taken care of by implementing the use of energy-efficient materials, alternative energy and renewable resources, waste reduction, water collection and conservation, and supporting local farming, and small business. For me, it also means preserving our local culture and especially the traditions of our host-culture — the Hawaiian people. Sustainability and cultural conservation also means making decisions today to assure that Maui County will NOT look like another Waikiki in the future, but will be the special place we all love and enjoy.
WHY SHOULD VOTERS CHOOSE YOU?
People may not agree on all of my positions; however, I believe people vote for me because they respect that I thoroughly research issues before making decisions, speak straight, and I’m not afraid to ask hard questions.
WHAT ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES FOR YOUR DISTRICT?
I must reiterate what I’ve previously discussed — that the top priorities for my district (South Maui) and all of Maui County are discussed in question 3 above: (1) Maui County’s most important issue is the economy (i.e. putting our residents back to work); (2) Keeping taxes as low as possible while not cutting services; (3) Moving towards self-sustainability, renewable energy and cultural conservation.