This is the second of profiles on those running for Kauai County Council. TGI plans to run at least one profile daily. Fourteen candidates are running for seven two-year seats.
When it comes to vision, Juno Apalla strives for efficiency.
The 30-year-old healthcare administrator with an executive master of business adminstration has made a point to understand technology and how well-planned town cores can invite diverse industry while ensuring residents never lack for easy access to necessities and care.
A supporter of the General Plan’s guidelines which draw from case studies in Washington and Oregon, Apalla believes emphasizing infrastructure will help the most pressing concerns on Kauai, including mobility, economy, and commerce.
“Think of it like your body,” she says. “When you have better flow of blood, you have better systems, so you make it as healthy as possible. What does it mean to invest in your infrastructure? It’s your water, waste, and roads- — but you need a good foundation first and we’re due to update those systems.”
The Lihue native readily concedes that it is going to take a lot of money to integrate these updates but views it as a venture to update the economy and prepare the island for the next generation.
Like the Google and Microsoft campuses, whose facilities boast salons, restaurants, laundries, and gyms on-site, increasing urban density and generating easy access to amenities can help Kauai attract and diversify its sources of industry.
Apalla would like to see a softening of the mono-economies on the island. Instead of agriculture and tourism, the combination, agritourism could help preserve traditional lifeways and promote small business. Creative arts and technology, would certainly thrive in the updated town cores.
Even film and Kauai-made products get a nod and could help build awareness, inviting additional opportunities.
“We used to think that all we can give the world is aloha and a lei, but we actually manufacture a lot more things on the island that we can give the world so we can be self-sustainable,” she said.
Apalla, whose run for County Council is rooted in suicide prevention and being a spokesperson for underrepresented groups (“Filipino, female, and under 50”), underscores her age to combat partisanship seen within the current administration, instead of viewing it as a detriment. She comes to the table “untainted by old politics and with hope.”
In addition to her training and experience in operations and reviewing budgets, Apalla, the current Ddirector of Bayada Home Care and a founder of the Kauai Lions Club, has a history of collective, collaborative efforts.
“I encourage them to look at all of the candidates and play alchemy,” she said. “Look at the individuals who can work together and their strengths, and make sure you vote for a team of individuals.”
Her parents, Dr. Antolin, a dentist, and Nancy, a nurse, are heavily involved in the Filipino community and as the middle child of three siblings, Juno grew up giving a lot of time and resources to her neighborhood — an experience that no doubt stressed civic duty as a means of leadership. She would like to see more millennial involvement and a representative government.
“People who volunteer have enough time, resources, and passion to make something happen,” she said. “It is important to practice our civil duties, so get out there. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. That’s the only way we’re going to penetrate into the new era.”