LIHUE — Kapaa resident Nelson Mukai, 54, has thrown his hat into the race for Kauai County Council.
“I want Kauai to be the most beautiful place in the world, The Garden Island, being The Garden of Eden, just seeing beautiful agriculture, enough housing going around, affordable housing,” he said.
Born and raised on Kauai, Mukai graduated from Kapaa High School in 1982 and then went on to earn a business degree. For 27 years, he worked in the business field, until he went back to college as a non-traditional student, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.
“I was always interested in politics, but I never got around to it,” he said. “I’m ready to run for Kauai County Council.”
For Mukai, who is a substitute teacher at Kapaa High School, educating the public is an important aspect of why he decided to run for office. Not only does he substitute teach, he often spends time at student events after school, so they know him well.
“I work with students at the high schools, they all kind of know me because I attend both the activities, the sporting activities and the (other activities) students have in the high school. I enjoy working with the kids,” he said.
As an educator, Mukai said he’d like to see more schools built on Kauai and see Waimea High School get back on it’s feet.
Also of concern for Mukai, are the traffic and infrastructure problems facing Kauai. His solution, he said would be to open Loop Road and add a third lane between Puhi and Knudsen’s Gap, so contra-flow can be set up for those on the Westside.
“There’s a road in back of Nounou Mountain and Mt. Kalepa, that connects between Wailua Houselots and Lihue and I think we should build that road so that we can alleviate some of those traffic congestion between Kapaa and Lihue,” he said.
Opening Loop Road, that goes all the way to Anahola, would involve building a couple of bridges, but that could easily be done while staying within the budget, he said.
Since Kauai is known as The Garden Island, Mukai said he’d like to see the expansion of local agriculture. In order to do that, he said it needs to be easier for local farmers to sell their goods on other islands.
“I’m in favor of having a shuttle, the shuttle boat that they were going to have. I want to see something like that so we can ship our produce to Oahu where it’s easier to sell. On Kauai it’s too small a population to sell produce, so they have to make it easier to sell produce and most of the population in Hawaii are on Oahu,” he said.
This is Mukai’s first time running for a political office and most likely won’t be his last.
“I’ll just try my best. I always grew up with politics and I think I can do a good job as a politician and a County Council member,” he said.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.