Lugo wants to improve people, water and land

LIHU’E – All Juan Lugo wants to do is improve Kauai’s people, water and

land.

A Republican candidate for state representative in the 13th District

(Puhi to Waipouli), Lugo understands these will be no easy tasks.

“It

sounds so simple, but it’s very complex,” Lugo said.

The three are

interwoven, each dependent on the other, and “it is time we start taking care

of the things that have been taking care of us,” said Lugo, 54, operations

manager for Kaua’i Veterans’ Express Co. Ltd., a trucking company.

Where

the people are concerned, Lugo wants to do everything in his power to keep the

island’s sugar plantations viable, securing the 400 jobs sugar provides on the

island.

“There’s a lot that can be done with Amfac and Gay and Robinson

working together,” he said. “If I can somehow get some help for the plantations

here, that’s the main priority.”

Lugo also wants to see every island have

its own school board, to bring local control to the public education

system.

Grants are available to provide jobs for the community. Someone

simply has to apply for them, he added.

If more people on the island are

working, that will result in a lower crime rate and higher pride and

self-esteem, Lugo reasoned.

“Am I trying to establish utopia? Yes, I am,”

he said, indicating that if he falls a bit short, the island will still benefit

from the effort.

Where the island’s water is concerned, Lugo, a Molokoa

resident, wants to launch a beautification and cleanup program, beginning in

Nawiliwili, then move on to other streams with the help of high school students

and others.

Federal funds are offered to communities that clean, preserve

and restore streams, and such an effort also creates jobs, he said.

Lugo

wants to ensure that the island has the necessary infrastructure of roads,

harbors, emergency communications and water systems.

Lugo, a first-time

candidate, decided to run after experiencing first-hand the frustration of

state government workers conducting an audit of the company he works

for.

The auditors were frustrated that they were simply following the

orders of their superiors, Lugo said, and he fears that such frustration is

prevalent throughout state government.

“I know what it’s like to start a

business from the ground up. I have witnessed the frustration that the business

community endures,” he said. “This same frustration is oftentimes shared by

those in government. We need to change the frustration to a unified

concern.

“It was almost as if government had forgotten where businesses

were, that government forgot that they’re there to help business.”

At that

time, he was driving to look at a job to bid on in Kalaheo. A rainbow appeared

that he took as his sign that it was time for him to do something about that

frustration that he has found in the business community.

“I can be

frustrated, or I can make a change,” said Lugo, who was briefly chairman of the

Kaua’i Republican Party before stepping down when his professional workload

picked up as Kaua’i Veterans’ Express expanded from two to 18 trucks.

Rosie

Holt, who Lugo said has been doing a tremendous job for the Republican Party

locally, moved up from her first vice chair position to lead the party on the

island.

Both Holt and Linda Lingle, statewide Republican Party chair,

expressed excitement about Lugo’s campaign, he said. The reaction in the

community has been as warm, and “doubly so” from his wife of 34 years, Yolanda

“Lani” Lugo.

Lani Lugo is her husband’s campaign manager and biggest

supporter, the candidate said.

“She knows that if I have the ability to

change something and I don’t, I’ll be doubly frustrated,” he said.

While

incumbent Democratic Rep. Ezra Kanoho is his opposition, Lugo is quick to point

out that this campaign is not about what Kanoho has or hasn’t done.

“Ezra,

I have the highest respect for,” Lugo said. “This is not about me and Ezra;

it’s about what I want to do.”

Lugo said he hopes to remain friends with

Kanoho before, during and after the election.

Both candidates will advance

to the Nov. 7 general election, since they’re the only ones in the Sept. 23

primary.

Lugo is unsure whether or not he will have or need a fund-raiser,

but is sure that he hopes to accomplish his ambitious agenda in only a few

years.

“The most I want to run is two terms, so I’ve got four years to get

these things accomplished,” he said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can

be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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