West Maui challenger targets public safety
Chayne Marten cites concern about public safety in West Maui as a major reason why he’s running against Democratic state Rep. Angus McKelvey for the 10th District seatrepresenting Lahaina, Kaanapali and Honokohau.
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Chayne Marten cites concern about public safety in West Maui as a major reason why he’s running against Democratic state Rep. Angus McKelvey for the 10th District seat representing Lahaina, Kaanapali and Honokohau.
“I believe legislators have failed to make public safety a priority,” said Marten, a Republican and green energy consultant. As a Red Cross member, Marten maintains he’s acutely aware of the shortcomings of evacuation procedures in near-shore areas.
For example, he said, in the event of a tsunami, students at Kamehameha III School are instructed to walk to a park about a mile away that has about the same elevation as the school. It’s a move that still puts them in harm’s way, Marten said. The school should either be moved away from the ocean or a new evacuation procedure should be adopted, he added.
Marten, 64, ran unsuccessfully against McKelvey in 2012 and 2014. McKelvey, 48, has served five terms in the state House. The two candidates will face off for the seat in the Legislature in the Nov. 8 general election.
Initially, Marten said, he became a candidate as a means to obtain a platform to speak about public safety issues. Over the years, he said, his platform has broadened to include an emphasis on reducing waste in the construction of schools and increasing support and salaries for teachers.
McKelvey, whose candidacy is endorsed by a number of unions, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Hawaii State Teachers Association, contends that he is an effective state legislator.
For example, McKelvey said he was successful in his effort to rally the support of state lawmakers for setting aside 300 acres for public use on West Maui’s coastline, including Honolua Bay. The property was purchased with $19 million in bond money in 2012, and he continues to support measures that would protect it from pollution, he said.
In addition, he said he’s also been able to secure state funds for the re-nourishment of beaches at Kaanapali, with money now set aside for the design and planning of the project.
McKelvey, chairman of the state House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, said he helped in establishing medical marijuana dispensaries statewide and updating the method through which drivers can prove that they have motor vehicle insurance.
A revised law now enables drivers to satisfy proof by presenting a digital ID card — an electronic version of a motor vehicle insurance card — rather than a paper or plastic insurance card.
Both McKelvey and Marten say they’re generally opposed to any push for new taxes, including Gov. Ige’s proposal to increase the state gas tax as well as vehicle weight tax and state vehicle registration fees. However, McKelvey said he’d be willing to vote to increase motor vehicle-related taxes if the governor can propose a more equitable way of raising revenues than putting in place across-the-board tax hikes.
Regarding the matter of an expected proposal to again extend Oahu’s half-percent excise tax surcharge to finance construction or operation of Honolulu’s rail system, McKelvey said he’d support a tax increase if the agency developing rail, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, can show how the ongoing project can eventually pay for itself.
In 2015, rail officials told state lawmakers that a five-year rail tax extension would likely be more than enough to complete the $8.3 billion project. However, the cash-strapped project is now short more than $1 billion needed to construct a 20-mile rail line to Ala Moana Center from Kapolei, according to the latest official estimates.