Hawaii News Infrastructure, public safety and land preservation key topics in District 2 Council race By Ashley Mizuo firstname.lastname@example.org Aug. 1, 2022 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! The candidates for the Honolulu City Council District 2 seat are focusing on preservation, affordability, public safety and infrastructure. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. The candidates for the Honolulu City Council District 2 seat are focusing on preservation, affordability, public safety and infrastructure. District 2 covers Royal Kunia, Wahiawa and along the North Shore to Kahaluu. The Council seat is currently held by Heidi Tsuneyoshi, who will not be running for reelection because she is running for governor. The candidates are Racquel Achiu, Matt Weyer, Makua Rothman, Lupe Funaki and Chad Tsuneyoshi. Four of the nine Honolulu City Council seats — Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 — are up for election this year, with 19 candidates vying in the nonpartisan races. Candidates who get more than 50% of the votes during the Aug. 13 primary will win the race outright. Otherwise, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to the Nov. 8 general election. Since there are only two candidates in the District 4 race, both will be on the general election ballot. The District 2 race has drawn some attention due to the backgrounds of many of the candidates running. Rothman is a professional big-wave surfer, and Chad Tsuneyoshi is Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s ex-husband. Both candidates have complex pasts. Chad Tsuneyoshi was involved in the criminal justice system. And Rothman’s father, Eddie Rothman, came to prominence as leader of Da Hui, a North Shore group of surfers and others that had a reputation for hostile and sometimes violent tactics aimed at intimidating outsiders. Compared with all of the other districts on Oahu, District 2 encompasses the largest amount of land, much of which is rural. Achiu, who is a farmer herself, is concerned about inappropriate uses of agricultural land in her district and, if elected, wants to institute policies that would better enforce the current laws about agricultural land as well as incentivize farming. She pointed to developers on the North Shore that buy large swaths of agricultural farmland and cut up the properties into pieces and sell it or lease it to farmers, marketing it as a way that they also can build their dream homes on it. Achiu said this drives up the cost of agricultural properties, and that farmers who buy these properties are often unaware of how difficult it will be to build a residence because of the lack of infrastructure such as sewer services. Additionally, she wanted to crack down on agricultural land owners who turn their farms into a more commercial activity, opening breweries and tours for tourists instead of actually producing produce. “Someday someone will push my kids out, and my husband and I didn’t fight for that to happen,” she said. “They are more interested in importing tourists than food.” Achiu is also a member of the North Shore Neighborhood Board. Weyer similarly wants to see agricultural lands preserved, but also wants to balance that with creating more opportunities for affordable housing in urban areas on Oahu. “Maximizing density in the urban core allows us to preserve agricultural lands, preservation lands,” he said. He supports the tightened laws on vacation rentals, hoping that those units will go into the circulation of long-term rentals available on Oahu. Weyer added that when people talk about affordable housing, they need to define what they mean. For him that means that people who live in affordable housing should not be spending more than 30% of their income on housing. “I think we achieve that through creating more inventory and then using the funds that we have in the programs that we have, like the affordable housing fund and (federal Community Development Block Grant Programs) … to support projects that also have those requirements attached to it,” he said. Weyer currently works within the city Department of Community Services, which often plays a large role in the city’s plans for affordable housing. He also has held roles within the City Council and was a domestic violence prosecutor. Both Achiu and Weyer want to see issues within the Department of Planning and Permitting addressed. Achiu is focused more on enforcement issues, while Weyer has put more emphasis on staffing issues and delays. “I think that purely throwing more money at DPP isn’t going to necessarily build good positions. You also have to look at how do we make these positions more attractive to folks that are leaving (the city) for the private sector,” he said. Weyer wants to see the department digitize more records and streamline its online permitting process. He added that self-certification could be a way to eliminate wait times for low-level permits, but that there should be more community input about what that would look like. Funaki is similarly concerned about what rising costs and changes in neighborhoods due to tourism would do to push out those who grew up in the district. “(We need to) manage what happens in the county, as impacted by short-term rentals and tourism … to keep up with rising costs,” she said. “These people who want to live simply and humbly get pressured into the reality of rising costs in their own home.” Chad Tsuneyoshi also is concerned about the effect that tourism has on the beaches. He suggests a rotating schedule for beaches around the island to ban tourism, which he said would allow local people to enjoy the beaches and reduce the stress on the environment. He pointed to the recent commercial activities ban at city beaches on the North Shore and in Waimanalo as a way to do enforcement. Rothman, who declined to speak with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, said in an email that he also supports preserving agricultural land and natural resources. When discussing public safety, the candidates differed significantly about priorities. Tsuneyoshi is focused on decreasing recidivism on Oahu, trying to create opportunities for people who committed crimes to join the workforce and not reoffend. “We let them out with no education, with no skills,” he said. “What we need to do is train them. What we need to do is teach them how to fill job applications, guide them into having a successful life.” Tsuneyoshi said that he knows these problems firsthand as he was convicted in 1999 for his involvement in a cocaine trafficking ring. “I made mistakes 20-something years ago, but I’m a different person today,” he said. “I got my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, so I understand the steps to stop crime, because it’s connected. It’s a broad approach … training these criminals who come out and and helping them reengage into life, into society.” He added that he and his brother at Platinum Limousine have hired 85% of their staff out of prison and that fewer than 2% have reoffended. Weyer’s public safety focus was more broad and focused on increasing community policing, increasing mental health and substance abuse support services, and building trust between the police and the community. Achiu wants to see more funding and support for the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division, which she said is severely underfunded and underresourced. “Some people in our community like to say ocean safety is not important, until you’re the one in trouble, until your grandson’s the one in trouble,” she said. “It is a problem, because our beaches are overloaded and we just don’t have the capacity.” For most of the candidates, infrastructure issues were public safety issues. Weyer, Achiu, Funaki and Chad Tsuneyoshi all stressed the importance of flood mitigation and disaster preparedness. These issues came to the forefront after another devastating flood on the North Shore in 2021 that destroyed homes and businesses. “That’s just a snapshot of what’s to come,” Weyer said, referring to climate change and the natural disasters that will continue to happen more frequently because of it. “The community has an appetite to come together and collaborate, so we just need government to be an ally and facilitate the funds.” Achiu wants to see a consistent stream maintenance plan to mitigate the flooding issues that continue to happen. “We want the floodways, the streams, to be cleared,” she said by email. “If you drive and you start from Waialua Beach Rd. and you go down to Haleiwa Beach Rd. and you look at the stream as you pass, you see how overgrown they are, how clogged up they are. The river mouths out into the ocean are shallow. There’s too much debris and it’s never maintained, but you always see the machines come out the day before one flood. So what happens when there’s no warning like this last time?” Rothman, by email, also said he wanted to see a stream maintenance plan. Financial disclosures Candidates recently turned in their campaign finance reports for Jan. 1 through June 30. >> Rothman led the pack with the highest amount of donations at $100,816. Some of the biggest contributions to his campaign are $4,000 from Hawaii Leadership Solutions, which is owned by current District 1 Council Member Andria Tupola. The International Longshore & Warehouse Local 142 labor union, Masons Local 630 labor union and Ironworkers Union each donated $4,000. So far, Rothman has spent $73,078. His expenses included $16,000 to Hawaii Leadership Solutions — Tupola’s company — and $12,326 to Wilkerson Public Affairs, owned by Braedon Wilkerson, Tupola’s chief of staff. >> Weyer had the second-highest amount of contributions at $61,164. His top donations were $4,000 from current Council Chair Tommy Waters’s campaign fund, $4,000 from former Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s campaign fund and $4,000 from both the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and the Masons union. In total he’s spent $38,286. >> Chad Tsuneyoshi raised $23,110. His top donations were $4,000 from Brian Tajiri, owner of Tajiri Demolition and Disposal; $4,000 from Nan Chul Shin, owner of the general contractor company Nan Inc.; $2,000 from local Union 293 Hawaii Sheet Metal Workers; and $1,000 from PVT Landfill President Albert Shigemura. >> Achiu raised $5,223. >> Funaki raised $1,499. Previous Story Hawaii Real Estate Sales: June 20 – June 24, 2022 Next Story Kokua Line: Can an undocumented immigrant get a state ID?