HONOLULU (KHON2) – Maui County voters have decided to have Michael Victorino and Richard Bissen face off on Nov. 8 in Hawaii’s Maui County mayor election.

Victorino and Bissen were asked 10 questions — a mix of serious and less serious ones — that both reflect their stance on issues as well as their personalities.

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Below are Bissen’s answers. Click here to see Victorino’s responses.

1. What are your top three priorities?

  • Infrastructure to preserve, protect and increase available water resources
  • Develop Kama’aina Housing
  • Workforce and economic development
  • Preserve our natural and cultural resources while mitigating invasive species

2. What policies are you looking to change?

A review of any policy that inhibits or creates unnecessary red tape regarding getting our people into their own homes or rentals.  Any County Policy that inhibits or suppresses small businesses and entrepreneurial ideas from being established and thriving.  We must also reign in excessive government spending and unnecessary expansion.We need to Understand the goals and objectives of each Dept and function and ensure there is excellent communication and accountability with all Directors and Deputy Directors.We need to ensure ALL Dept Heads/depts have up to date, fair and balanced/objective tests, policies and promotional opportunities for our workforce. 

3. What feedback have you heard from the community that you plan on tackling?

We have been out in the community meeting and listening to our local residents since January.  We went to all islands and organized meet & greets in all our communities-right now we are on our second round of gatherings-we have shifted to a community forum format-Collective Kuleana Forums, where we have breakout sessions and small group facilitators that provide folks an opportunity to not just identify issues but possible solutions as well. Many of the issues are county wide and some are unique to particular communities. Water, housing, jobs, traffic and homelessness, as well as some of the related issues, have all risen to the top.  We have plans to tackle each one of these.

4. Are you a dog or cat person?

Dog mostly, our family has always had dogs for as long as I can remember.  Currently we have two dogs named La’i and Haukea.

5. What do you plan on getting done within your first 100 days in office?

As we fill the Director and deputy director positions in the cabinet, we will 1) actively recruit talented individuals 2) consider the current holder of the positions if they are interested in applying and 3) advertise and encourage all qualified and interested persons to apply. It will be our goal to place the right people in the right positions so that we can be more efficient and professional in our daily delivery of services. We will run the administration and departments with agility for transformation and change. Strategic thinking, planning and implementation with a clear and consistent shared vision. 

6. What advice would you give yourself at age 16?

I would tell myself to stay in school and work hard and realize your plans AND dreams can come true as long as you don’t quit.

7. How do you plan on combating the housing crisis in your county?

Kama’aina housing is a 5-step plan intended to create housing for Maui County residents, it is not based on where you were born or your ethnicity. You must, however, qualify for a homeowner’s exemption which is a reduction in your tax assessed value of your primary residence that you actually live in (not a second home or vacation home). This will only impact the homes in these proposed subdivisions and not homes already built or offered by other private developers or projects.The key here is to start with utilizing existing infrastructure, accessory dwelling units and repurposing vacant commercial space. In addition, we intend to: 1. Create an inventory-of-lands where most can agree to having housing projects built 2. Use County Build-Back-Better funds to install infrastructure i.e. water and sewage into Kama’āina Housing projects 3. Partner with banks, builders, suppliers and non-profits in advance to further drive-down costs 4. Give Primary Residence property-tax exemptions with resale to only Kama’āina in perpetuity 5. Educate Kama’āina in finance/management to qualify for, and keep, their investments.

8. What sets you apart from your opponent?

I feel that my experience and collaborative style of leadership sets me apart.  In addition, the unique set of skills that I have from 34 years in the judiciary, serving and protecting the community.  I also think that being a practitioner in Hoʻoponopono (traditional Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness) both sets me apart and will serve me well as the Mayor of Maui County. 

9. What do you think will be your biggest obstacle in achieving your goals as mayor, and how do you plan to address it?

The biggest challenge will be refocusing the culture of the county . . . getting the buy-in from the existing county employees to reshape the culture.  We will start with inspiring our workforce to reimagine the way we function as an organization. We  will build excitement and empower creativity, innovation and collaboration. We will have a new attitude, a new approach, new actions and measured achievements.

10. Favorite local spot to eat at?

Tokyo Tei restaurant

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Voters will receive their ballots in the mail by Oct. 21.