Asing on political comeback trail

LIHU’E – Kaua’i County Council incumbents will be squaring off against Kaipo

Asing – a former mayoral candidate and one of the county’s most prolific

vote-generators- in this year’s council race.

Asing held office for at

least two decades before he stepped down in 1998, when he lost a bid to become

mayor.

Political observers thought he retired from public office after

that loss, but he filed nomination papers on July 10 to make another run for a

seat on the seven-member council.

Also, former mayoral candidate and

council member John Barretto Jr. has said he is “99 percent sure” he would file

for a council race by July 25, the deadline for formally entering races for

elected office on Kaua’i this year.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the

council candidates-incumbents and challengers- who have filed to run for

office:

* Ron Kouchi, 42, current chairman of the council, has held a

seat on the council since January 1983. Kouchi is a registered representative

for AXA Advisors, provider of financial services.

A Lihu’e resident, Kouchi

is married and has two children.

He said his achievements of the past two

years include a community-based process for the General Plan update, and

securing funds for a new multi-million headquarters for the county police,

county prosecutors and Civil Defense office.

He said key issues for the

future include purchase of Kaua’i Electric by Kaua’i Island Utility Co-op and

adoption of the General Plan update.

* Randal Valenciano, 41, has been a

councilman for nearly 10 years. He’s a private attorney and a one-time county

prosecutor.

A Lihu’e resident, Valenciano is married and has three

children.

He pointed to revision of agricultural tax law and balancing

personal goals with council goals as his achievements, while completion of the

General Plan, solid-waste disposal and monitoring of the sugar industry are

his goals.

* James K. Tokioka, 38, is chairman of the council’s Finance

Committee and a restaurateur. He is married and has two children.

Chief

achievements for the past two years, he said, include being part of a process

that allowed council members and Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s administration to

“agree to disagree.” He also noted a 1999-2000 county budget that kept

property tax rates status quo and upgraded government services, including

adding lifeguards.

Goals, he said, include continuing to address community

concerns and issues, and public service opportunities such as Kaua’i Net Expo,

which he founded three years ago, and Hawaii Association for the Education of

Young Children.

* Billy Swain, a former state legislator who is seeking his

second council term.

Swain couldn’t be reached for comment on his

reelection bid.

* Bryan Baptiste, vice chairman of the council. The

44-year-old lives in Wailua, is married and has four children.

Getting the

Lihu’e Airport gateway project going are among his accomplishments, he said.

Toward the future, Baptiste said he hopes to encourage economic diversification

to allow young people to return to Kaua’i to meaningful, well-paying jobs

after finishing their college studies.

* Daryl W. Kaneshiro seeks a second

term on the council.

Although a freshman council member, Kaneshiro has

shown to be cool under fire.

A rancher, he was a key member of former

mayor Tony Kunimura’s administration in the 1980s.

He couldn’t be reached

for comment.

* Gary L. Hooser is also seeking a second term on the

council.

The Kapa’a businessman, who is married, has gained a reputation as

being open-minded on proposals before the council.

He could not be reached

for comment.

* William (Kaipo) Asing ran for mayor and lost in 1998. He’s a

retired Hawaiian Telephone executive.

As a former member of the council

for nearly two decades, Asing earned a reputation as the gatekeeper of council

activities, constantly questioning activities of the county government.

A

top vote-getter in past elections, he spent little money on his campaigns. He

merely waved from roadsides with an election sign in hand and wearing a

traditional, carnation lei.

He was unavailable for comment on his new

political plans.

* Sonny “Cayetano” Gerardo, 60, retired as civil defense

director of Kaua’i County following 18 years of service and worked as an

administrative assistant to former mayor Eduardo Malapit from 1975 to 1981.

The Air Force veteran worked under mayors Kunimura, JoAnn Yukimura and

Kusaka.

Married and a Koloa resident, Gerardo said his nearly 25 years of

service to the county can help the community improve roads and water and

utility services, improve education and create employment. He said he also

wants to reduce crime by filling police officer vacancies, and he calls for

support of small local businesses.

* Anne Donovan, 38, of Kapa’a, who ran

for a council seat in 1998, is a businesswoman and the mother of two children.

She also has been a student leader at Kaua’i Community College and a worker

with the county Commission on the Status of Women.

Pressing issues, she

said, include minimum wage, changes in welfare reform law and domestic

violence, the need for higher-paying jobs in the tourism industry, education,

and council involvement with the community that goes beyond passing the yearly

budget.

* Robert Cariffe, 43, ran or the council seat in 1996 and 1998.

This time around, he is calling for a war on drug use, restoring funding for

magazines at state libraries, and using proceeds from the sale of recycled

goods to benefit Kaua’i.

He is married and has two children.

* Rhoda L.

Libre, of Kaumakani, was not available for comment.

* John Barretto Jr.

66, served on the council from 1982 to 1986. He ran for mayor as a Republican

in 1986.

A retired businessman, Barretto once owned nine gasoline stations

on O’ahu, a Snap-on Tools dealership on O’ahu, Fishing for Fun Charters,

Ahukini Marine Service and Supply, and Auto Aide.

He said the current

council rubber-stamps programs proposed by Kusaka administration. More

check-and-balance is needed in county government, he said.

He also wants to

halt increases in taxe, opposes pay raises for Kusaka and top government

appointees, and scrutiny of the selection and confirmation of county Planning

Commission members.

Staff writer Paul C. Curtis contributed to this

report. Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or

lchang@pulitzer.net

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