Recovery, Public Safety Among Top Priorities For New City Council Members

Nov 6, 2020

Updated 11/6/20, 10:13 a.m.

The next Honolulu City Council is now set after voters across Oʻahu filled the last three council seats on Tuesday. But like the new administration, new council members will have to tackle difficult problems once they are sworn in come January. 

Augie Tulba, Esther Kiaʻāina, and Radiant Cordero will join Andria Tupola and Calvin Say as the newest members of the Honolulu City Council.

Esther Kiaʻāina prevailed over rival Greg Thielen to represent Windward Oʻahu. She says public health and safety is a top priority for her. But she also wants to focus on the island's economic recovery.

"It's not a big picture reopening of Hawaiʻi's tourism industry and businesses," Kiaʻāina said. "It's also ensuring that individuals and families who continue to be adversely impacted by the pandemic are getting the necessary relief."

Kiaʻāina says she would also like to focus on affordable housing and addressing homelessness.

"It's important not only for the Windward side, but all of Oʻahu," Kiaʻāina said.

Augie Tulba says that the quality of life for residents and families is one of his top priorities, especially as the state climbs out of the pandemic. Tulba beat former state Sen. Will Espero to represent District 9, which includes Mililani, Waikele and parts of Ewa Beach.

But he also believes public safety is a big concern.

"We see kūpuna being attacked," Tulba said. "We seeing crimes of opportunity because of where we're at with COVID -- a lot of people [are] getting desperate.

"Our community has grown in the last 20 years, but the police beat has stayed the same."

Tulba says he wants to help Honolulu police get the resources it needs to better serve his community.

"They want to be able to go to the park, and they feel like their kids are safe," Tulba said.

Tulba acknowledges he is a newcomer to local politics and that there is a lot for him to learn. But he wants to turn his education into an opportunity for his constituents as well. He hopes to teach residents in his district about how local government works.

"One of the things that I found out campaigning is that a lot of people aren't educated  about some of the things that we (the city council) do," Tulba said. "A lot of people have concerns, but they don't understand the process."

Radiant Cordero also wants to make local government more accessible to residents in her district. She beat Jacob Aki to succeed Joey Manahan in representing Kalihi, Salt Lake and Mapunapuna at Honolulu Hale.

Cordero believes more needs to be done by city and state agencies to better inform the residents in her district, especially when it comes to COVID-related relief. She says local government also needs to do a better job in understanding various communities and how they operate.

"Number one is figuring out more extensive outreach based on our residents and neighbors availabilities and accessibilities," Cordero said.

"I want to make sure that they have an opportunity to find out the information and resources that the county and state can offer our neighbors. And the way to do that is going to where they are."

But public safety and economic recovery are also priorities for Cordero. However, she would also like to focus on the rail project, which is currently facing challenges and delays within her district.

She believes rail can revitalize much more than areas closest to the rail line, including entire neighborhoods and communities. But she says the more immediate challenge is holding the rail authority accountable.

"Making sure that our city center utilities relocation is figured out, planned and prioritized," said Cordero. "And not continue on with their P3 (public-private partnership) until they have a plan for the utility relocation -- especially along the Dillingham corridor."

The newly elected council members will be sworn into office in the new year.