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2022 Election: Cara Flores

Cara Flores
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Name on ballot:

Cara Flores

Running for:

Maui county council – Kahului

Political party:

No answer submitted

Campaign website:


Current occupation:

Community organizer, real estate, substitute teacher



Previous job history:


Previous elected office, if any:

No answer submitted

Please describe your qualifications to represent the voters of your county.

A depth of knowledge on our housing crisis and realistic solutions. A strong work ethic and commitment to serving the community. I understand the specific struggles working families face and the solutions we need to improve quality of life for our residents. I have a degree in engineering and 15 years experience with helping families get and keep housing, and I have led and volunteered in many different organizations that help youth and families.

What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent, and what will you do to address that need?

The housing crisis. I would like to see the county implement housing solutions that stay affordable for all time and to take a much more aggressive and proactive approach to implementation of the solutions that have been proposed. We have a large affordable housing budget and need to make sure it is used for proposals that provide maximum benefit to local residents and that the solutions are permanent and beneficial to the community. I have a very detailed list of legislation and actions that would help alleviate our housing crisis in the short and long term. I plan to hit the ground running on this issue as soon as I get into office.

Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the county level to help residents cope with high consumer prices?

Housing first and foremost because that is the largest expense for many working people. We can also seek subsidies for locally grown or produced food which would reduce the cost at the point of sale. More access to affordable daycare and afterschool care for working families. A much bigger investment in our community walking and biking infrastructure which would provide other options for getting around the community and could significantly reduce monthly transportation costs if a vehicle is not required. Providing resources for small businesses that pay their employees a living wage. Increase our renewable energy use and generation which could bring down energy costs in the long run.

What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness and to make housing more affordable to residents?

Housing is a human right. I support the housing first model. We need a comprehensive plan to get people off the streets and transition them to a permanent housing situation. We are short on shelter beds, which is a temporary solution and we are short on housing, which is the permanent solution.

We will ultimately need to tackle Maui’s larger overall housing crisis to see a significant improvement in our houseless situation. I would like to see a centralized one-stop-shop social services location that is an umbrella to our many wonderful outreach organizations. Other municipalities have done something like this with temporary housing, a clinic, social workers and counselors, meal services, job training/placement and other outreach services.

In places that have created a good system people are much better served and the overall cost to the community is less. People need compassion, hope, care and stability in order to improve their circumstances long-term. I would also like to see our county request federal help in preventing other places from sending people here without resources, lodging or a support network.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?

Create more outdoor shaded spaces for residents to gather, encourage and create outdoor dining spaces for restaurants. Improve ventilation and air exchange in buildings. Provide high quality masks for any residents who would like them but do not have easy access to them. Provide free community based PCR testing. Make sure real time anonymous notification alerts for exposure are available to residents who are interested. Ensure therapeutic treatments are easy to access and available to all residents.

What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?

I would support small business loans and community based programs. Since the public is not fully aware of how the pandemic federal monies were spent and how much is left there is no way to know if there is still money in the budget already allocated for this purpose.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make county government more transparent to the public?

The residents of the county have a right to know how money is used and spent. We need a lot more transparency in this area.

I would like to see a breakdown of how all the federal pandemic money was spent. I feel there should have been much more public dialogue and collaboration around the use of the pandemic funds. I would have liked to see a public task force with public meetings and an opportunity for public testimony. We missed a great opportunity to improve a lot of infrastructure that would have helped reduce the spread of COVID but would also continue to benefit us after the pandemic.

I would like to see an expansion of Sunshine Law locally and more ways for the community to participate in public policy. More accountability and transparency leads to better governance.

Do you think more needs to be done at the county level to manage tourism? If so, what would you propose?  

We have a county plan that was created in collaboration with the community and is continually updated. The Maui County plan states we should have a visitor-to-resident ratio of 1 to 3 or less. This is what the community has decided.

The council and administration should refer to our county and individual area plans when making decisions. Also the county needs to work with the state and federal government so they can work on being in compliance with the community plan.

For example at one point the mayor requested that the number of daily flights be decreased. Yet the state DOT approved building more gates at the Kahului airport to allow more planes, which will likely lead to more visitors. It is important that the state and federal government honor our county’s plan and the residents’ expressed desires. Corporations’ requests should not be prioritized above our residents.

What would you propose to help diversify the county’s economy beyond tourism?

Creating land grants, micro loans, farming grants and apprenticeship programs. We should also be trying to grow our renewable energy sector. I would like to see more careers in science technology engineering and math. We are chronically short on health care workers and could definitely benefit from expanding training in that sector. It all begins with a detailed plan. Looking forward we should be creating a community where people will want to live, have opportunities, and have an ability to flourish. We should be creating opportunities for the next generation here locally.

What can county government do to mitigate the affects of sea-level rise?

We need a comprehensive and integrated plan for a 3 foot sea level rise. With this we could prioritize a common sense planned retreat away from the shoreline. It is a waste of resources and precious time to attempt to stop the ocean. We need to accept the fact that our shorelines are at significant risk and plan accordingly.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

As a member of the council I will work hard to serve the residents of Maui. I have spent most of my life helping and caring for people. I like to look at the big picture and work towards a vision while following a thorough plan to reach goals. I would like to see Maui residents all have access to housing. Residents deserve a better quality of life. One job should be enough. We need to be sure working parents have access to childcare and other resources. We need to prepare for the future with a proactive approach not a reactive response to each problem as it occurs. I commit to listening, taking action, and being available to Maui residents during my term.

View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
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