Name on ballot:
Lila Balmores Metzger
Kauai county council
No answer submitted
Dance Instructor, Small Business Owner
Previous job history:
Director of Kauai Underground Artists non-profit 501(c)(3) Organization
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the voters of your county.
I have been serving the community of Kaua’i through the non-profit sector for over 15 years. Having been born and raised on this island I don’t just call this place home, I truly love this island and care deeply for the well fare of our community especially our children.
What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent, and what will you do to address that need?
I strongly feel the young children and youth of this island have been very neglected. I would be their voice and advocate among all decisions that need to be made. I would work hard to use all the covid relief money the schools accumulated by continuing to require masks and testing and pour it back into youth specific projects. For example: More skate parks, revitalizing and expanding county sports & leagues, build a performing arts center that can facilitate the arts specifically for the youth and I would ensure that children of all ages have more options and opportunities for personal growth on this island like never before.
Investing in our children is at the top of my priority list.
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?
Kaua’i residents are used to paying higher prices since we pay more for everything in “normal” times. The reality of this inflation hasn’t really hit our island since people are still eating out and driving big trucks. The time will come when residents will just have to pull back and adjust their life style, simplify and make choices that will help them and their families make it through this time. This isn’t a county issue, this is an opportunity for residents to consider becoming more self-sustainable while we do have the luxuries around us and when those things are no longer there or we can’t afford them we won’t fall to pieces. As individual households and as an island community we need to work on becoming sustainable in as many ways possible.
What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness and to make housing more affordable to residents?
I believe these are two completely separate issues: For the homelessness issue I believe the “church” those who claim to follow Jesus Christ have the key. If the church on Kaua’i could (myself included) come together and be light and hope to these people I believe God will do what no one else can, but it will take humble hearts and churches willing to go out of their nice comfortable buildings and go to those who Christ would go to, to share God’s love and give them a reason not to give up on society. For affordable housing I would suggest automatic taxing to out of state buyers and using those taxes as credits to local buyers, I would like to see rent-to-own options in the affordable housing market and create a pathway for local residents who enter low income housing to have the opportunity to pay more as they earn more and eventually these responsible tenants can plan to exit the low income housing sector with credit that can be used on a loan application for first time home buyers.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
The County should stay out of intervening with resident health. The County needs to spend time and money enhancing infrastructure on our island, spending tax dollars wisely, taking care of county parks and installing bathrooms in every park, and really putting energy into investigating different technologies available to help solve our waste water and landfill issues.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
The County could start a GET BACK TO WORK campaign and offer free classes on basic budgeting, customer service skills and social media marketing to name a few. There are endless amounts of jobs available on the island and if we don’t get back to work the businesses that are currently open will not be able to survive without any staff.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make county government more transparent to the public?
We always need more transparency on where money is coming from and where it is being spent. To be able to see the county budget in an easy to understand up to date chart would be of great value to help community members understand what & why things are the way they are. If we the people understand we will be able to support or oppose things that come up and we will be able to ask the right kind of questions.
Do you think more needs to be done at the county level to manage tourism? If so, what would you propose?
The County needs to impose a departure tax to all visitors who come to Kaua’i. This tax needs to be paid at check-in to The County of Kaua’i. These funds can then be used to maintain and manage highly impacted areas due to tourism.
What would you propose to help diversify the county’s economy beyond tourism?
We on Kaua’i need to look at what we have to work with and pick something to export. It is not wise of us to be importing nearly 100% of everything we use on a daily basis. We need to do market research and see what is it that other countries or states have a demand for. Does Japan need papayas? Then let’s create the most prolific non-gmo papaya to send them. Do we want to foster music and arts like no one else in the world then let’s create a highly sought after Conservatory. There is something our island has to offer the rest of the world we just need to look past tourism and actually work towards a new stream of income for our island.
What can county government do to mitigate the affects of sea-level rise?
The county government does not need to worry about this issue as long as beach front properties in south Kaua’i are still selling for $12 million dollars and up. Once real estate plummets on the shorelines of Kaua’i then the county can attempt to have some foresight on an issue that is not nearly as pressing as our landfill reaching capacity and what to do with our waste water.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I am not here to play politics. I put my name on the ballot because I love this island and I don’t want to regret not trying to bring about positive change for the future. I love my life, I am not a career politician, just a willing vessel who doesn’t want to settle for being part of a dream that someone else created.
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