Candidate Q&A: Kauai County Council – Billy DeCosta

Editor’s note: For the Hawaii primaries on August 13, Civil Pete asked candidates to answer some questions about their position on various issues and what their priorities would be if they were elected.

The following came from Billy DeCosta, a candidate for Kauai County Council. The other nominees for the seven positions are Addison Poulosan, Bernard Carvalho, Felicia Cowden, Luke Evselain, Verne Holland, Rosemary Gauch, Ross Kagawa, Kibo Kai Kwale, James Langtad, Jeffrey Lindner, Leela Metzger, Nelson Mukai, Jackie Nelson and Mel. Rabozo, Roy Saito, Secretary to Rachel, Shirley Semper Medeiros and Clint Iago.

Go to the Civil Election Guide for general information, and check out the other candidates in the primary polls.

1. What is Kauai County’s biggest problem, and what are you going to do about it?

Food security and housing. The average price of our imported food is 90% getting exorbitant. Our average home cost is close to a million dollars. Not much farmland is used on Kauai. We need to inspire our farm and livestock owners to create a sense of cooperative farming so that multiple families benefit from growing food (fruits, vegetables, livestock, eggs, etc.) which can be included in a cooperative food center.

We need to create a farming/livestock dormitory pattern for the individuals and/or couples who live on these farmlands.

Our county has acquired land to build transitional affordable housing and a workforce. This previous budget for our county secured nearly $15 million to secure these projects. But remember, there is a gap group that makes more than $128,000 joint income between husband and wife, which does not qualify for any of our housing projects, yet they pay a reasonable amount in taxes like everyone else.

We need to increase the supply of homes available to us by stimulating the construction process. An increase in supply will lead to a decrease in demand which will affect prices and the underlying economy. We need to make sure that our local families in the higher income bracket are the ones who qualify to get these homes.

2. In the past four years, the northern shore of Kauai has experienced two major weather events that have separated entire communities from jobs, schools, pharmacies, banks, doctors and other essential services for months. Should this change the county’s approach to disaster preparedness, and if so, how?

Natural disasters are always a challenge, and being hung after the fact is not my style. We always get together and get things done. During the 2018 flood, I wasn’t a council member yet, but I brought supplies that I organized with my community connections.

This is what we are in Hawaii, we do it not for recognition but because it is engraved in our culture from our ancestors. We need another emergency route to the North Shore. We need the board to be able to help management make decisions if needed.

3. There are approximately 14,000 water wells on Kauai that must be removed by 2050. With an average cost of $15,000 to $30,000 to convert to sewer, many homeowners say making a transition is not affordable. How can a county help start drain replacements?

Cesspool alternatives will hurt nearly all 14,000 homeowners. As a council, we’ve earned over $1 million a year converting about 30 to 35 homes a year. This won’t solve the whole problem but we have the option to contribute more as a boycott.

We should consider going to the sewer instead of the sewer which is more environmentally friendly. This is why the Council needs to budget your tax money financially responsibly to accommodate all of our pressing issues. My degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics gives me this mindset to be innovative, efficient and accountable.

4. Traffic is getting worse on Kauai, and different regions face different challenges. What is your approach to improving transportation problems on Kauai?

Traffic has been a problem that no politician has successfully solved, but I can tell you that our tourists staying in tourist areas, eating, shopping, walking to the beach, and getting them to and from their activities across the island, will limit the amount for rental cars on the road.

We need to monitor our capacity for visitors to our island.

5. Do you feel the governor and legislature value your county’s issues, or are they too focused on Honolulu and Oahu?

Oahu has 1.2 million people, which obviously would get the attention of our political leaders, but if we could diversify into growing food (fruits and vegetables, beef, lamb, eggs and even small organic dairy that only serves Hawaii), we could all benefit from this diversified economy that would enjoy Now with interest all politicians.

We need to support every island, its people, its businesses, its resorts, and its restaurants with locally grown food products. Our local hunting and fishing community needs access to community kitchens and slaughterhouses to process their catch and create their own value-added products for inclusion in the local economy, creating a sense of resilience (eg, ground marlin mixed with wild boar and a burger to make sausage served in a restaurant to tourists). It’s time to start thinking outside the box.

6. For more than a year, the median price of a single-family home on Kauai has exceeded $1 million. What will you do to help address the shortfall in affordable, middle-class, low-income housing?

Put more funding into these county housing projects as long as we can balance our budget to meet the rest of the county’s services and public safety. We need to augment the building in our urban core where the infrastructure is ready to accept (that). Live and work in the same area.

We need to increase our rental apartments to accommodate our younger generation who are back from college. We need to increase the supply of single family homes to meet the demand which will lead to lower prices.

7. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic nears its end, local businesses are struggling to hire and retain workers, resulting in shortages of everything from grocery store cashiers and restaurant workers to teachers and school bus drivers. What are you going to do, if anything, to address this economic instability?

Not many adults were employed because our government supported their shortcomings. It’s time to get back to work.

Work hard, save your money, invest and make smart financial decisions so that one day you can breathe and swim above this mired financial crisis. There is no magic answer, it just takes persistence and persistence, not handouts from the government.

8. The Kauai landfill in Kikaha will soon run out of capacity and there is not yet a plan in time to build a new one. What can the county council do to address what could become the island’s waste crisis?

Long overdue, new landfill site. Conviction if no one has the answer. We need about 75-100 acres, there has to be one area where we can work together and agree to make it happen, the trash is all ours.

This may be our most pressing issue and the one that will cause us the most problems.

9. Excessive tourism can degrade the environment, threaten biodiversity, contribute to the erosion of infrastructure, generate traffic and disrupt neighborhoods. What more can be done to improve the management of the tourism sector on the island?

Managing the tourists is a must, keeping the tourists in their designated areas as they reside in that area and transporting them to and from their activities.

10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic inequality. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better situation, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share one great idea you have for Kauai County. Be innovative, but be specific.

I’m currently working on this idea, and if I am elected to another two-year term, this will become a reality:

Co-op cattle ranch, where the farm raises and owns the herd of cattle, while so-called “weaning cattle” ships are purchased by families (such as a deposit per calf of about 400 pounds). The farm would benefit financially rather than shipping those calves to feed cuttings on the mainland which usually happens. These cattle will be bred to market weight in two different classes:

– It feeds on grass.

Feed with grains (alfalfa and corn from our local Kauai agricultural company called Hartung).

These families will pay grazing and/or grain fees when their animal (labeled and registered) weighs 800 to 1,000 plus pounds. Their cows will be transported to the local slaughterhouse and the customer will pay this fee. This process will ensure food security and give our Kauai families the chance to enjoy either a grass-fed ribeye steak, a fresh hamburger and stew and/or a grain-fed marbled steak just like at Costco.

This fee (deposit for calf, grazing or grain and slaughter) will be paid to the farm by those families who own the cow and will still be competitive against what it would cost at Costco or Safeway.

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