Bernard Carvalho Jr
1. What should be the County Council’s priorities in addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19?
Working closely and supporting the administration in enforcement and implementation of all health and safety rules and regulations. We need to seek solutions and resources to address the “New Normal” way of caring for our people, our visitors and our lsland home. During COVID-19, tourism has been brought to a standstill in Hawaii. Investments that will make tourism stronger, smarter, and more resilient than before are needed now as we rebuild our economy.
2. What is your vision for a thriving agricultural economic sector on Kauai?
I support the current Kauai Agricultural Committee who provides advice and assistance in the formulation and conduct of agricultural programs on Kauai. It is our responsibility as council members to also reach out and support existing programs like the Future Farmers of America program for students, initiation and support of farm to school projects and also the 75 acre agricultural park in Kilauea (Aina Ho’okupu O Kilauea), which needs to be continued with the same agricultural footprint in other communities on our Island.
3. What role do you feel the visitor industry should play in Kauai’s economy?
The visitor industry plays a big role in Kauai’s Economy not only through offering employment opportunities for residents, but also lays out the process we need to take to improve the visitor experience on our island. The major impacts of tourism on our environment and the cultural sensitivity to our island is at the forefront. We as leaders need to work together to find balance and trust between the visitor and the resident so business opportunities can flourish. This all connects to the County of Kauai’s Tourism Strategic Plan, which strives to improve the visitor experience on Kauai, reduce the impacts of tourism on the environment and local residents, and enhances the quality of life for the visitor industry employees.
4. If elected to the Council, how would you engage with the business community prior to your decision-making?
I believe in coordination, cooperation and collaboration. As a council member, we nee to assure our residents that we not only hear, but we listen to the concerns of the community, then we as leaders find the solutions and/or options. With this process in place, decisions can be made in a timely manner
5. How would you help ensure that working middle class residents can afford to buy or rent a home in Kaua’i?
In addition to approved affordable housing projects that have been completed or are in the process of development, like the Kolopua project in Princeville, Kaniko’o in Lihue and the Lima Ola project in Eleele, we as leaders need to continue to seek resources and support housing projects like these. Partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and other affordable housing partners is also vital in makig homes available to residents at various income levels throughout our island. It is also especially important to note the various housing programs such as the First-time Home Buyer Loan Program and other programs that are administered through the County Housing Agency. The most recent opportunity for emergency rental, mortgage, and utility assistance program support came through an emergency block grant. The housing agency partnered with the Family Life Center and Malama Pono Health Services to administer the grant.
6. How would you effectively manage budget and operations compared to the past?
As a council member, one of the main tasks is to approve the County annual Operating and CIP budgets. While it is the administrations responsibility to spend the funds as budgeted, the County Council also has an ongoing responsibility to determine if funds are being spent in a fiscally prudent manner. One of the accomplishments of the County Council and the (Carvalho) administration was the passage of the reserve policy resolution to control overspending. We consulted with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) to assist us with the best practice recommendations to create this policy. This budgetary tool thankfully remains in effect today. It basically requires that the County maintain a reserve of 30 percent of the prior year’s operating expenditures. This “rainy day” fund can only be tapped for specific reasons including Natural Disasters when needed. It also spells out how the fund must be replenished over time if used. As a council member, I will work with my fellow council members and the administration to pursue more best practice policies like the reserve policy to wisely spend tax dollars.
7. How can Kaua’i maintain its rural character while continuing to accommodate a growing population and visitor counts? How do your ideas fit with the current General Plan?
The Kauai Kakou-Kauai County General Plan was completed and as the former Mayor, I signed the plan as presented in 2018. This very recent document charts the course for our Island, guiding our growth and sustainability for generations to come. It is important that we as leaders completely embrace and support this document because it represents the desires and dreams of our Island residents, business community, and goverment leaders who collaborated together to define and implement a shared vision for our Island Home.
8. Will you support efforts to ensure that all vacation rentals, home stay units, bed and breakfast, and all transient vacation units are charged resort property tax rates?
9. What two ideas do you have about economic diversification and how would you develop these two areas?
I would support the efforts of the Kauai Economic Strategy Team which consists of eight different sectors: Agriculture; Business; Construction and Public Works; Education; Finance; Health Care; Tourism; and Technology/Sustainability. The discussions are already in place and the critical areas of our ecomomic diversification is already in motion. The areas that I would like to highlight is Agriculture an Technology/Sustainability. The growing of our own food incorporated with Technology/Sustainability will build a solid base in taking care of our people and our Island Home.
10. What is your solution to best manage solid waste on Kauai?
It is my hope that the siting of the the new landfill location at the Maalo site in Lihue site is still moving forward. After numerous meetings with goverment, business and community leaders, the plan was developed. The main feature of the new landfill location was the Resource Recovery Park with focus on reduce, reuse, recycle programs and green educational opportunities for all. Should there be a change in location, I would advocate for the same design and layout. This entire vision would connect into the results of the general plan update which focuses on a sustainable Kauai.
11. As a member of the County Council, what steps would you take to mitigate the impacts of climate change on Kauai?
I would continue to support the efforts of the Shoreline Set-back Ordinance which adds additional setbacks to new development and new structures. The County of Kauai has the most progressive set-back rules in this State, from 40 to 100 feet, depending on property, location and size. I would also support the efforts and meaning of the Aloha Plus Challenge which was embraced by government leadership that committed to creating a culture of sustainability which includes six targeted areas: Clean Energy; Local Food Production; Natural Resource Management, Waste Reduction, Green Workforce Education and Smart Sustainable Communities
12. Do you support the continued use of the G.E.T. surcharge and how would you prioritize roads and transportation spending?
I support the continued use of the G.E.T. surcharge to support repair, maintenance and infrastructure work of our County roads. It is also especially important that we secure additional funding similar to our efforts in securing a $15.1 million Tiger Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Transportation which took dedicated teamwork and partnerships at all government levels