LIHU’E – All Juan Lugo wants to do is improve Kauai’s people, water and
A Republican candidate for state representative in the 13th District
(Puhi to Waipouli), Lugo understands these will be no easy tasks.
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.
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
“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
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
Federal funds are offered to communities that clean, preserve
and restore streams, and such an effort also creates jobs, he said.
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
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
“It was almost as if government had forgotten where businesses
were, that government forgot that they’re there to help business.”
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
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
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).