When Kymberly Pine was elected to the City Council in 2012, she allied herself with Mayor Kirk Caldwell and predicted the Council she was joining would be one of the best ever.
Now she’s regularly at odds with the mayor, often fighting the Council majority and calling herself a “rebel mama” as she runs to succeed Caldwell next year.
“Having to vote for things that were wrong,” she said. “Seeing $40 million being spent at Ala Moana for a park that was already perfect, while in my district I’ve been fighting for just one park staffer and I can’t get that. And now we’re going to spend nearly $1 billion on a world-class Blaisdell Center while we’ve got homeless all over the place? We’re charging our future to our children and not spending on things we really need, like police officers and lifeguards.”
Pine, 49, who represented her Leeward district for eight years in the Legislature before joining the Council, said she’s “never seen in my whole life so many people protesting, willing to get arrested, frustrated that nobody is listening to them. I hope to offer a kind of mayor that really understands them and doesn’t hang out at Bishop Street like all the others.”
She denounced recent arrests of those protesting a wind power venture in Kahuku that will include 568-foot-tall turbines installed near homes.
“The more I learn about how that windmill got the approvals, the more upset I am about the many of my constituents who got arrested in Kalaeloa,” she said.
Pine said residents near the windmills persistently raised concerns, but “nobody cared. … Rich people and powerful people got what they wanted, and deals were made behind closed doors and it was done.”
“We have to change everything about how government lately is making these very big decisions that negatively impact people,” she said. “If the community is overwhelmingly against something, then you need to find another way.”
The city also needs another way to battle homelessness, said Pine, who has opposed “sit-lie” laws passed by the Council.
She favors the Kauhale villages concept promoted by Lt. Gov. Josh Green and others, in which clusters of tiny homes housing up to 300 homeless at relatively low cost would be built in communities around Oahu.
“We spend millions of dollars cleaning up people’s garbage and just moving them to the next street when we could have been using that money for drug treatment and to build rapid affordable housing that costs less than $10,000 a unit,” she said.
Pine defends her staunch support of the troubled $9.2 billion rail project, a priority in her Leeward district, but advocates greater scrutiny of rail spending, saying, “Just because you’re for something, you don’t look away.”