KOLOA – At a political forum last night, candidates for Kaua’i County Council
focused on pressing issues facing the island’s future: The general plan update,
the purchase of Kaua’i Electric and garbage.
Yet, some voters wanted
further explanation from incumbent council members on issues they worked on in
the past. Those included the extension of a runway at Lihu’e Airport and
approval of Alexander and Baldwin’s (A and B) 700 resort units project in
The questions were raised at a meeting hosted by the Southshore
Property Association at Koloa Union Church. About 20 residents attended.
Council members said they upgraded conditions for the A and B project before
giving approval, including building another road to take additional traffic
away from Lawa’i Beach Road. The developer also set aside more lands for public
Councilmen Daryl Kaneshiro and Billy Swain said the council worked
with the community and negotiated at length with A and B.
Baptise and Gary Hooser also said the airlines didn’t want to extend the
airport runway from 6,500 to 8,500 or 10,000 feet due to cost. Aircraft
technology has advanced to the point that a larger runway is no longer needed,
the council members said.
During the forum, 12 of the 16 council candidates
on the next month’s primary election ballot discussed their backgrounds
* Council chairman Ron Kouchi said his top priority is
resolution of the general plan update, solid waste problem and affordable
housing. Kouchi said that while he was in Washington, D. C. recently, he sought
federal funds to build more affordable housing on Kaua’i.
* Baptiste, who
is running for a second term, said he would support development of an economy
that would allow young people return to Kaua’i for work. He also said has
helped build a better working relationship between the council and the
administration of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.
* Councilman Randal Valenciano,
who has held a seat on the council for 10 years, said he wants to develop an
economy that will allow Kauaians to remain on the island.
* Kaneshiro, a
businessman and rancher, said he also he wants to develop a “kind of Kaua’i
that will provide opportunities” for residents and their
Kaneshiro said south shore residents shouldn’t fret over runaway
“For this area, I feel we are pretty much preserving the way
Koloa wants to be, to keep this part of the island special,” he said.
Hooser, a 30-year-resident of Hawaii and a Kapa’a businessman, said he voted
against overdevelopment in the south shore and additional funding for what he
considered to be excessive travel by administration officials. He also said he
opposes pay raises for Kusaka’s appointees.
* Swain said he would seek
passage of a measure that would provide county lifeguards immunity from legal
* Kaipo Asing, who held a council seat for 18 years before he ran
for mayor in1998, lost and exited politics, said he wants to “present
information to the community so they can have a say. And this is what I do
* John Barretto Jr., another former councilman who left public
office after losing a mayoral bid, said he is running again for the council
because he is unhappy with the performance of the council and the Kusaka
In the 1980s, he organized an anti-tax which, he said, led
to homeowner exemptions and the “lower tax rate you now enjoy.”
Donovan, a single mother of two from Kapa’a, said she wants more representation
of women on the council, diversified employment, and an updated role for
* Joe Prigge, a Kapa’a businessman, said he would look
for ways to protect Kauai’s rural lifestyle and attract new businesses to the
island that are related to “environmental industries and ocean management.” He
also would support efforts to renovate old school buildings.
* J. Kauilani
Kaheleka of Kapa’a said she would work to preserve the rural flavor of Kaua’i
– the same type of atmosphere that existed 30 years ago when she came to Kauai
“There was only one signal light on the island and
“everything closed at 5 o’clock. (sunset),” she said.
believes, wants to turn back the clock a bit and will support candidates who
feel that way.
“Being part of my culture, I just have this feeling that
something has to go to change,” she said.
Before more development occurs,
the county has to put more money upgrading the infrastructure, she
Kahalekai has worked as a sales and marketing director for BFI
systems and advocates recycling.
* Robert Cariffe said he wants to keep
Kaua’i clean and to create a “hard-hitting video” to educate youths on the
pitfalls of crime and drug use.
Absent from the meeting were Councilman
Jimmy Tokioka, Cayetano “Sonny” Gerardo, a former civil defense director for
the county, Rhoda Libre of Kalaheo, founder of the West Kaua’i Watershed
Council and Roger A. Ridgley Jr. of Kapa’a.
A moment of silence was
requested by Hooser for Bob Myers, a council candidate who died last week
during a visit to Washington, D.C. to join other supporters of Hawaiian issues
in the Aloha March.
Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at
245-3681 (ext. 225) and [