While national politics are centered on the presidential race, here in Hawai‘i the attention is focused on local contests—including mayoral races. In Hawai‘i County, 13 candidates are running to succeed Mayor Billy Kenoi. We continue our reports on some of the candidates and issues with a closer look at Wally Lau, who served as the county’s Managing Director for 7 years. Sherry Bracken has more from Kona.
Kona resident Wally Lau worked for Kamehameha Schools until he left in 1996, challenging the trustees for falsifying data. In 2009, Lau joined Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration, handling the county’s day-to-day operations.
Lau says a combination of government plus nonprofit services will help those who are homeless or at risk. “We gotta look at ways to help them help themselves. There is no one size fits all. Affordable housing, affordable rentals, micro-units, great, but we have some in their cars. Let’s get a friendly place, you can park your car, where there are bathrooms, showers, meals, a place to pitch a tent, a place of peace, a place of safety, and bring in wraparound services.”
Lau feels strengthening the economy is also key to addressing those in need. “With a healthy economy you have meaningful jobs. The Mayor’s office has to be an advocate for good, healthy economic opportunities, tourism, construction, and responsible development. And does it care for our natural environment.”
Lau plans to continue streamlining the building permit process and also says he will hold people to the highest possible standards. “If I see somebody in my administration misusing the P-card, I will take corrective action up until releasing them.”
Lau’s endorsements include the police union, United Public Workers, ILWU, Operating Engineers, Laborers, and the Ironworkers. He also has the endorsement of former Hawai'i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira.