LIHUE — Juno Ann Apalla ran for a seat on the Kauai County Council in 2016. She fell short, but isn’t giving up.
Apalla recently announced her candidacy to run again this year.
“I sincerely believe that by modeling the way for my generation, I can inspire others to step up and show up to the table where important decisions about our future on Kauai are made,” she said. “What inspired me to run for office again is a shared vision of bridging gaps between inequities in leadership on the Kauai County Council. I sincerely believe we can make a difference today if we work smarter and more efficiently together.”
Apalla said there are opportunities to change the status quo by paying attention to three things: fiscal responsibility; the emerging needs of the community; and how to encourage economic stability.
“Firstly, our fiscal responsibility is how we use county funds wisely without overspending,” Apalla said in a press release. “It is paying municipal debts sooner, reducing surplus costs, and basically making decisions that help the ohana keep the light on and bring food to the table.”
The 30-year-old said she supports initiatives to enhance infrastructure, increase housing stock, and connect towns via safe walkable and bikable streets.
“Our birth rate outpaces the death rate,” Apalla said. “We need to meet the emerging needs of our community, as Kauai’s population growth comes from within, and so does our need to support the full spectrum of individuals between keiki and kupuna. Both need access to care and resources.”
Apalla is both concerned and optimistic about the economic stability of the community.
“As an employer, I see the disparity in the distribution of access and opportunities amongst our people, with an unemployment rate to beat the records,” she said. “Yet we face the underlying overemployment issue that haunt us all, two to three jobs to attend and a small pool of workforce from which to draw.”
Apalla, who is Filipino- American, hopes to help develop small businesses on the island with the county’s support for the creative technology industry. She is encouraged by the development of mixed-use spaces or makers-spaces.
“I am inspired by affordable tiny homes for more compact living,” Apalla said. “I am excited for the emerging industries through the use of creative technology. I dream of encouraging young farmers to take on the challenge of running a small farm.”
In 2016, Apalla was the top vote getter among challengers, with 7,899 votes in the general elections. Her goal this year is 15,000 votes.
Apalla is a graduate of Kauai High School, Pacific University and UH Manoa Shidler College of Business. She holds an executive MBA in health care management and works as an associate director at BAYADA Home Care.