Name on ballot:
Mason K. Chock
Kauai county council
Previous job history:
County of Kaua’i 2013-Present
Kupu A’e Leadership Development . 2002-Present
President and Owner
Leadership Kaua`i 2006-2010
Kauai Fire Department 1994-2005
Previous elected office, if any:
Kauai County Council
Please describe your qualifications to represent the voters of your county.
First appointed in 2013, I am in my third term as a council member after seven consecutive years of service. I am a co-founding member and former Executive Director of Leadership Kaua`i, and have worked in education, non-profit and public service for 20 years. I am the President of Kupu A’e Leadership Development, a leadership experiential education company on Kauai, specializing in cultural, place-based learning, adventure-based therapy, team building and leadership development. Through partnerships with The Waipā Foundation and Leadership Kauai, Kupu Aʻe administers initiatives such as The Waipa Challenge Course, Mālama Hulēia, The Kauai Resiliency Project, DOE leadership programs and serves many clients including the City and County of Honolulu, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Akimeka, Manu Kai LLC and many other businesses and non-profit organizations across Hawai’i.
A Certified Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge, Certified Facilitator of The Student Leadership Challenge, Certified Everything DISC and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team Facilitator, personal coach, leadership development consultant, and keynote speaker. I provide customized workshops and coaching covering topics such as creating a positive work culture, Design Thinking Process, conflict resolution, building a value-based company, strategic visioning; goal and action planning. I have been dedicated to affecting social change through positive growth for individuals, groups and the community. My commitment is to increase competencies, accountability, transparency, and sound decision making at the county of Kauai by increasing cohesive servant leadership.
What will be your top priority if elected?
I’m committed to fiscal responsibility, rebuilding our economy by investing in new industries and providing basic human needs for the health of our residents. Balancing visitor impacts and keeping us as safe as possible will require managing their movement by region, enacting control measures that limit access by way of visitor permits or fees. De-incentivizing rental cars and shifting to multi-modal transportation such as shuttles is key. We need to highlight the privilege of being a visitor and the kuleana that comes with it, reflecting the true impact and expense on our infrastructure and services. We should follow through on the General Plan’s reference to establish a Kakou Committee to work towards a more sustainable circular economy model. Investing in infrastructure needs for housing and our agriculture industry will continue to be my goal. Lastly, I want to focus on needed resilience efforts caused by the effects of climate change.
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
Because county government is one step removed from the state government decisions on how we should be opening safely, we need to ensure the concerns and ideas of our residents are heard by our governor. We need to represent the emerging perspectives and concerns of our citizens with our county and stay in close contact with our intergovernmental partners. The county can further help by planning for the various scenarios that are constantly developing whether they are economic needs or health and well being needs. Much of these considerations are outlined within the Kauai Economic Recovery Strategy Teams 45 recommendations which specifically addresses what the county and community stakeholders from each industry or system should focus on. The county government will need to provide up to date communications on covid-19 response to our community as well as regulating the social distancing and health standards in managing exposure. In addition, coordination of human services, such as mental health, food and shelter and economic needs will need to be a focus for county government. Above all, we will need to take care of ourselves and each other and the county should continue to be the stewards and example of this message.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
The county’s priority in addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19 are to first ensure our residents health is cared for. This not only includes their financial stability to secure basic needs such as food and shelter, but also to assist with mental health needs for those most at risk. The county will have to assist the public in adapting to the new safety protocols in place in a clear and sensitive way. The county council should follow through on the Kauai Economic Recovery Strategy Teams recommendations and leverage the huge capital within our community stakeholders to accomplish its identified action items. In addition, the county will need to be strategic In applying current federal Cares Act funding and any future funding that may become available. The council will need to work closely with our mayor, state legislature and Kauai state delegation to ensure priority projects are supported and completed such as our housing initiatives and road repairs. This includes addressing our unfunded liabilities and budget shortfalls in order to maintain services to the community. Along with stringent budget management, we will need to continue responding to the daily needs of our people providing basic needs such as food, shelter, and ppe. We must find creative opportunities to support new and existing businesses wherever possible. We need to Invest in infrastructure needs specific to developing industries beneficial to building a circular economy in energy, waste management, agriculture and protection of the environment. We should also look into property tax incentives for commercial properties that can assist businesses stay afloat.
Should public worker furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing be used to help the county deal with lower tax revenues and higher expenses during the pandemic? Why or why not?
Because 80 percent of the county’s budget is directed to employing our workforce, If the county has to cut its expenses, we inevitably need to consider reducing services and subsequently positions that support those services. This would be my last resort, but it is inevitable if the county is in dire straits that we consider all options available to us. In addition, we need to integrate visitor fees on a local level that help to balance the budget. This includes parking fees, bridge tolls and even regional permitting for our visitors. We need to also lobby our federal leaders for another round of cares act funding that targets our economic needs from an infrastructure and small business development standpoint.
What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness?
The houseless issue is complex and includes of range of challenges including mental health, drug abuse, and financial instability. We must approach each one of these issues cohesively in order to untangle the web of despair being experienced. I am a believer in the Housing First initiative and have focused much of this current term on housing initiatives such as Ke Alaula, a twenty nine, long term transitional housing project in our town core integrated with wrap around services. My hope is that we can duplicate this model on west and east Kauai in the future. In addition, we need to continue to direct funding towards mental health needs, financial support, meals and drug intervention programs until we can get people back on their feet. Partnering with our faith based and non profits to provide these services will help leverage our success.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
Yes, I believe we need to ensure administrative policy reflects the outcome of transparency and accountability when police matters are concerned. In addition, I’m an advocate of prison reform focused on bail and pre-trial changes that ensure the right parameters and tools are utilized for fair and equal processes, particularly for our most vulnerable offenders.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I’ve dedicated much of my life to helping our Hawaii people transition towards more healthy and abundant lives that are succinct with the values inherent of this aina, by empowering them with the skills necessary to lead and also modeling the behaviors of sound leadership within all of my endeavors. I am seeking my last term in office before terming out and are asking for our Kauai voter’s support. For more information about me please visit mason4kauai.org. I would encourage you to review my 2019-2020 term progress report which will include much of my voting record, what I introduced, supported, didn’t support and what I intend to focus on if elected.
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