LIHUE — Councilwoman and former mayor JoAnn Yukimura announced Tuesday she is seeking Kauai’s top elected post.
“The island is at a tipping point and we need visionary and experienced leadership to guide our way forward,” she said to a crowd of about 100 people on the steps of the Historic County Building. “With your help and God’s grace, I know I can provide that leadership.”
Anyone who wants to be mayor, she said, needs to know two things: where we’re going and how to get there.
“Where we are going is our collective vision,” she said
If elected, Yukimura said she will work with residents to accelerate the development of affordable housing close to jobs. Expanding Kauai’s bus service will be a priority.
“First and foremost, we will provide hourly, weekend and holiday service that will start early in the morning and goes until 10 p.m.,” said Yukimura, who served as mayor of Kauai from 1988 to 1994 and has served 10 terms on the County Council.
According to a press release, during her first eight years on the council, she started many projects, including the first Sunshine Market, the first bike path, the first self-help housing and the first public land trust.
“This is the kind of entrepreneurial spirit and know-how that is needed in the mayor’s office for the next four years,” the release said.
She said she wants to develop more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods and towns, too. She said a multi-use path between Waimea and Kekaha is in the planning stages, and a sidewalk in Hanapepe Heights will eventually be a part of a walkable pathway to Salt Pond.
Programs to keep young people from drugs will also be a priority.
“By keeping them so busy and engaged as Aaron Hoff and the Boys and Girls Club and other youth workers do, so that our young people don’t need to do drugs,” Yukimura said.
She spoke of the need to build a sustainable solid waste system that will focus on reducing, reusing and recycling as well as composting.
“This will significantly reduce our landfill costs and create small businesses and jobs that will build a strong community,” she said.
The hiring of county employees, appointments and use of consultants will be based on merit, not politics, she said, so they can hire the best and the brightest.
As mayor, Yukimura said she will work to coordinate transportation and land use so roads aren’t overwhelmed by development.
“A system where the General Plan and community plans and the permitting process follows planning principles, not politics,” she said.
If elected, Yukimura said she will bring people together to inquire into the problem to first understand and not jump to preconceived conclusions.
“We will include everyone who is interested and willing to work, we will listen carefully, ask questions, research best practices and engage in lively discussions in which different viewpoints are offered and received with respect, rather than suppressed,” Yukimura said. “We will thoughtfully design the plan of attack and then act with resolve and humility.”
“It is unfortunate that in recent years, some leaders have been more interested in stopping others from speaking or asking questions, than in resolving the problems before us,” Yukimura said.
The real test, she said, is not what candidates say, but what they do.
“My record shows that if you want to get the job done — and done well, with JoAnn, Kauai can!” the release said. “Together, we will effectively address today’s problems such as the lack of affordable housing, traffic congestion, homelessness, drug abuse, and the lack of good planning.”