Affordable housing, landfills and the tug of war between agriculture and development were among topics faced by candidates last night at a community forum.
Twelve of the 13 people running in the special election to replace former City Councilman Todd Apo participated in the District 1 forum at Nanakuli High and Intermediate. John Roco was the only candidate not there.
Apo resigned Nov. 8 to take a position with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. His successor will serve the remaining two years of his four-year term.
About 75 members of the community attended.
Most of the candidates agreed that the Waianae Coast should not have to bear any more landfills.
Kioni Dudley said a recycling system that is being used in 14 U.S. cities and Europe will "eat everything we have at the present time."
Tom Berg said, "I want it shipped and shipped now." He proposes getting rid of the Jones Act, which restricts cargo vessels serving Hawaii to U.S.-flagged ships.
Chris Lewis said new waste management technologies will take time. He said Oahu needs to take small steps that can be done now.
Bob McDermott suggested creating dust and trash barriers to minimize problems. James Manaku said Waimanalo Gulch can become an asset, suggesting technologies can be used.
Former Teamsters Union executive Mel Kahele said, "What we need to do with PVT is to get them out," referring to the company that operates the landfill.
"In two years, Waimanalo Gulch will end up in PVT," Kahele said.
Celeste Lacuesta said "the dust travels for miles" and "should not be anywhere near any housing. No PVT (Landfill) for the Nanakuli area."
Jason Espero, son of state Sen. Will Espero, said that looking at other technologies and finding a reasonable site for another landfill need to be done.
When asked what the city should do as far as low-income housing, Lewis said he supports an apartment-oriented design, rent assistance, work-force housing and Habitat for Humanity.
Berg suggested manufacturing prefabricated housing, retrofitting shipping containers for homes and even building yurts.
Dudley said, "What we need to do is get into rentals. No one can afford $400,000 for a house. We need affordable rent," and suggested $900 a month.
Kahele and Victoria Yuen suggested the city partner with the state and federal government for affordable homes and helping the homeless.
Matthew LoPresti, a Hawaii Pacific University professor, said affordable housing and rentals and rent control are needed.
On the question of preserving agricultural lands versus development, most candidates support protecting agricultural lands.
LoPresti, however, said, "If we just say no to everything, we will lose," and suggested balancing agriculture and development.
McDermott and Rose Martinez said they support diversified agriculture.
Gary Velleses said he helped form a farmers association and "will stand for agricultural land."
"I think farmers should have priority," he said.
Mail-in ballots were sent out Dec. 6 and must be received by the city clerk’s office by 6 p.m. next Wednesday.