County Council candidate profile: Riki Hokama
Riki Hokama will battle Matthew J. K. Mano for the Lanai seat on the County Council in Tuesday’s General Election.
To help inform voters, the Lahaina News sent questionnaires to the candidates.
Hokama’s responses are listed below.
Riki Hokama, 57
Occupation: Self-employed business owner
Educational Background: Graduate of Lanai High School and the University of Hawaii (Bachelor of Arts Degree)
Community Involvement: Maui Economic Opportunity Inc., Imua Family Services and Wailuku Main Street Association
Political Experience: Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention (1978) and member of the Maui County Council (1999 to 2009).
1) WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
I would like to return to public service and work on the pressing issues facing Lanai and Maui County.
2) HOW CAN MAUI COUNTY DIVERSIFY ITS ECONOMY, SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES AND CREATE JOBS?
Maui County needs to have a clear economic diversification strategy, public support and the resources and advocates to advance economic objectives. This approach is similar to efforts in the early 1980s with the Maui Economic Development Board’s initiatives for high-technology resulting in the development of the Kihei Research and Technology Park and other related ventures. Also, county government needs to be more responsive to small business needs by streamlining government processes, reviewing laws that may be obstacles to business (“Workforce Housing” and “Show Me the Water” ordinances for example) and being fair and reasonable in the imposition of requirements on new projects.
3) WHAT ARE THE THREE KEY ISSUES IN THE 2010 ELECTIONS,
AND HOW WOULD YOU ATTACK THEM?
Three key issues include: (1) Restoring confidence in Maui County as a place to work and do business; (2) Addressing county fiscal challenges; and (3) Improving the economy. In addition to previous responses in Question #2, county government must set an example by operating within its means and “right sizing,” improving project management capabilities for capital improvements (e.g. water, roads and sewers), and better utilizing available technology for efficiencies.
Also, the county needs to adopt the Maui Island Plan and the Water Use and Development Plans to update policies for the economy and land use. Finally, county government must have a long-term strategy for financing capital improvements, managing its debt and maintaining a good bond rating. In short, county government must set an example by improving its delivery of services, operating within its means and maintaining a strong fiscal position.
4) WHY SHOULD VOTERS CHOOSE YOU?
I have experience and proven leadership on the County Council, having previously served as council chair and chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. I also feel that my knowledge and experience in public finance and budgeting will be an asset on the council during these fiscally challenging times.
5) WHAT ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES OF YOUR DISTRICT?
The biggest problem on Lanai relates to the island’s lagging economy, which is heavily dependent on the visitor industry. To attract visitors and stabilize employment, I would ask the Maui Visitors Bureau, with the Four Seasons Hotels, to undertake an advertising campaign with a Lanai-specific focus. To diversify the island’s economy, I support relocating the ten-acre business commercial site on state land, or in the alternative, requesting transfer of title to the county to facilitate economic development projects.