LIHUE — Congratulations and a shared desire for the well-being of Kauai were on tap at the Democratic Unity Breakfast, held at the Kauai Veterans Center on Sunday afternoon, as about 70 candidates and supporters gathered to celebrate the successes of the party.
“We’re all fighting for the same thing, just different ways to get there,” said Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo, who took second to Councilmember Derek Kawakami in the mayoral race primary.
Josh Green, who took top votes for lieutenant governor in the primary, said what many candidates professed through the event — it’s been a long haul and there’s more work to come, but it’s worth it for those who want to make the state better through public service.
“(My victory in the primary) shows the entire state has the desire to make lives better,” Green said. “So now, we’re going to get together and heal for a week and then move forward and then go door to door again.”
Green said he’s looking forward to working with Gov. David Ige in developing campaign strategies and Ige reciprocated the sentiment, also pointing out his campaign’s many volunteers and supporters.
“Last night was a reward for the hard work of our volunteers and supporters,” Ige said at Kauai’s event, the second of several Unity Gatherings held throughout the islands. “Our next step is working with other Democratic candidates to integrate our campaigns.”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she was grateful for the “resounding show of support” she received in the primaries, and that she and her team are looking forward to November.
Attending the Democratic Unity Gatherings across the state is a special tradition, she said, and one for which she’s happy to travel around the islands.
“It’s special with people who came out to vote and for us all to come together in unity and with aloha, fighting for our people,” Gabbard said.
Relationship building was a highlight of the campaign for Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who took third in the primary race for lieutenant governor.
“The people are important,” Carvalho said. “We’re so thankful for everyone’s support, and we developed relationships with people all over the state. That’s the important part.”
State Representatives Jimmy Tokioka and Dee Morikawa both said they were looking to keep their same presence in the state Legislature, with a focus of Kauai’s needs and taking care of their respective districts.
Last night’s primary race “was very stressful, but now I can get back to work,” said Morikawa. “I’m in leadership, so I’ll be working with a group and we’ll set our priorities.”
The health of Kauai’s salt beds is one of the things she’ll be keeping on her radar as time moves on.
Tokioka said he’ll also be focused on the things that are important to the people of Kauai.
“We’ll move on the same as it’s been,” Tokioka said. “We’ll find what’s important to the people of Kauai and how to make Hawaii better.”
Meanwhile, 14 of the 24 Kauai Council candidates moved forward in the race, and those 14 candidates are getting ready to get their message out as well. Seven will be chosen as county councilmembers in the November election.
“I came in number 10, so for our team it’s going door to door, making sure we’re exposed,” said candidate Juno Ann Apalla, who is in her second race for council.
Milo Spindt, who came in 12th place in the primary, said it’s his first time running for a council seat and he’s planning on making himself more known before the general election as well.
“It’s about getting the message out for me,” Spindt said. “To be a first-time candidate and to be here is tremendous.”
The event mixed candidates who have hit the end of the road for this election cycle, with those who are continuing on through to the general election. But the atmosphere was celebratory Sunday afternoon with people like Sen. Brian Schatz on the microphone and Sen. Mazie Hirono in the crowd.
And all candidates applauded the voters who took the time to do their civic duty and vote for Hawaii’s leaders.
“Next for us is targeting people who didn’t vote,” Rapozo said. “(For the mayor’s race), there are two great candidates and it’s an awesome choice for the people.”