Balinbin faces off again, this time for Cochran House | News, Sports, Jobs

After facing off for the West Maui resident seat on the council in 2016, Elle Cochran (pictured) and Kanamu Balinbin are vying for the Democratic nomination for the new House District 14 seat.

A grassroots Kahana resident goes head-to-head with a longtime West Maui councilor in the Democratic primary for the House District 14 seat, a new district created from the state’s repartitioning process that spans nearly all of West Maui.

Father of four and business owner Kanamu Balinbin ran for political office and lost to incumbent Angus McKelvey in the District 10 race in 2020, but says he still runs to be the voice of society and protect the integrity of people, land and coastal regions.

Elle Cochran, a former Maui County Councilwoman who held the West Maui resident seat from 2011 to 2019 and fell short in the 2018 mayoral election against Michael Victorino, says she’s focused on preserving community traditions, protecting the environment and growing a public economy. . creating opportunities for future generations.

In 2016, Cochran successfully defended his council seat against Balinbin; The winner of this year’s rematch will go to the general election to face Republican Kelly Armstrong and Aloha Aina candidate Leonard. “Dolphin” Nakoa III, both unopposed in the primary.


Kanamu Balinbin

For Kanamu Balinbin, interest in advocacy and the island’s politics began when the family of former mayors like Elmer Carvalho and Hannibal Tavares were fundraisers at his restaurant.

At that time, Balinbin was a member of the lawmakers. “for the locals” but now they seem to have been pushed out.

Ultimately, what truly inspired Balinbin, a father, youth sports coach, and owner and chef of Nalu Grindz, to engage with the government is the gradual loss of county beach access for divers, fishermen and surfers.

Born and raised in western Maui, Balinbin and his community of supporters are working to regain access to the shores of Napili and Honokowai, and are seeking to pass environmental and safety legislation after an incident earlier this year that caused a sandbag to loosen and pin it. niece underwater (survived) and drowning reefs “S-Turns” The beach near Mahinahina.

After falling short in the 2020 race for House District 10, Balinbin is hoping to gain more traction this time around.

county and state “We need to work better together” He said to address issues and create legislation regarding water diversion, coastal development due to beach access, ocean safety concerns, and affordable housing.

Additionally, updating cesspool technology can reduce the degradation of the environment and reefs. available techniques “outdated” said.

“I learned that there are things we can do even though I am not in public service” said. “You just have to find the right people and not give up… Win or lose, we’re not here to pose or do photoshoots, we just love to do something for our community.”

If elected, her top priority for District 14 will be to build trust by working with the communities of Lahaina, Waihee and Kahakuloa. “honor and respect.”

“We want the community to give as much input to the government as possible. We want the participation of our people,” he said. said. “We want people who are busy, unable to care, to know that we have the best attention at heart. We know who we are working for. Above all, we work for our community,” he said.

One of the ideas for getting the community involved more is to host monthly meetings and “constant communication” To keep everyone informed of what law has been passed or what bills are being proposed, and to discuss new concerns or ideas about the area.

“We also want to get more young people involved in the county government and better knowledge and understanding of how things work because kids these days are amazing.” said.

Then he focuses on bringing solutions and improving Maui’s education system to get real affordable housing.

Balinbin said he is collaborating with University of Hawaii Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana on efforts such as expanding the school’s programs and educational opportunities to help students complete their degrees on the island.

“We have a lot of high school students who want to enter the teaching profession but are discouraged” said. “Having a better education system here and having more four-year college degrees can keep our people here. Keep our people here so that the next generation can get these head office jobs, the high-paying jobs that are available here.”

He also added that he wants to support teachers by providing more tax breaks.

During his tenure, Maui County also had a “Fair Sharing” Given that Maui has the second-highest yield behind Oahu, the state’s hotel tax revenue. Last year, the Legislature took counties’ share of the temporary accommodation tax, but gave each county the option to apply its own surcharge, as Maui County did starting November.

It also wants to continue pushing for the construction of West Maui Hospital to address security concerns on the west side of the island (the project started in 2016 but was put on hold due to legal and financial issues) and wants to cooperate with Congress on its handling. homelessness.


When cuts to shoreline access and luxury home improvement are planned “in my backyard” Elle Cochran wanted to raise her voice as part of a grand master plan for regions stretching from Kapalua to Honolua.

After running the Save Honolua Coalition in 2007 and holding several meetings, Cochran quit his job at Marriott to focus on his Maui County Council nomination, winning the 2010 election and serving eight years.

“The really Honolua Bay that started it all and continued from there without looking back.” Cochran, who continues to work with Hannah Bernard of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to conserve Honolua by reviving the Makai Watch Program. “Definitely close and dear to my heart.”

In 2018, while on the city council, he helped pass a decree to create a Special Management Area Revolving Fund, which was created to collect fees from applications or emergency permits that could be used to purchase land for public beach access from willing landowners, for example.

In collaboration with the Planning Department, Makani Sands and Kahana Sunset have provided beach access to residents wishing to dive or fish.

“I definitely think this is a way of addressing something that has been overlooked for decades and could benefit the public.” said Cochran.

She hopes to continue interacting and building relationships with the community so she can learn what matters most in District 14.

“Our Neighboring Islands really need to have a strong voice and advocate there to address their concerns.” said Cochran. “Hear what the needs are and get that voice out there and make sure we get the proper funding and do whatever it takes to find solutions and address them all.”

If elected, he said, he would help push tax incentive ideas forward, pass laws and advocate for funds that support infrastructure improvements; environmental Protection; medical needs such as West Maui Hospital; and affordable housing.

For Waihee, he hopes to address concerns with housing and road improvements such as speed bumps and guardrails.

Similarly, he wants to continue working on affordable housing solutions in Lahaina and solve traffic problems on Keawe Street with new apartments nearby.

“Northern bypass needs to happen, so it’s definitely at the top of my priority list, making sure that funding is restored and this project is rolled back into state (Ministry) Transportation plans because we need to ease this bottleneck.” said Cochran. “This road should never have had this much traffic.”

Earlier this year, state officials said the northern phase of the bypass had to be delayed due to a reduction in car rental surcharge funds during the pandemic.

Finding ways to preserve Maui County’s unique environment and Hawaiian culture is also important to Cochran. Historically, the islands have provided their inhabitants with food security, economic drivers through crop production and export on the island, and a holistic lifestyle.

“This needs to be kept intact and, you know, education about who we are and what we represent” said. “I have always said that these islands have all the ingredients to be a role model for the rest of this world… We just need to make sure we get back to sustaining what these islands can deliver: water, wind, sun, rain, wave energy. We have everything we need to be self-sufficient and teach others how to be too.”

Need better tourism management “Private and Protected Places” While there are small amounts of effort around the island with reservation systems and paid parking, he added.

“Everything has a capacity to share. We only have a limited view and limited resources.” said Cochran. “We all rely on tourism to run our economy, but it doesn’t have to be. We’re all talking about diversifying the economy, so let’s take back our farmland and agricultural production. Let’s get the people back to their lands.”

Cochran is working with Lahainaluna High’s boarding program to revive and hopefully secure funding for agriculture and livestock curricula to teach future generations how to make them economically sustainable.

“We want to create a pipeline to teach people how to grow, but how to transform it into value-added products, entrepreneurship, businesses.” said. “Hopefully we can get this in West Maui, especially Lahainaluna, and be a role model for other schools or companies to do the same.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected]

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