Experience is Gerardo’s mantra

LIHU’E – When Cayetano “Sonny” Gerardo talks about where Kaua’i has been and

where it is headed, he wants listeners to know his viewpoints are based on 25

years of service to the county.

During those years, he worked in the

administration of former Mayor Eduardo Malapit and served as the county civil

defense director, helping the island recover from two hurricanes. He retired

last year.

It is that type of government experience, Gerardo believes,

that would benefit Kaua’i in the future.

He worked for eight years as

administrative assistant to Malapit, whose administration in the mid-1970s

pushed for development and more public improvement projects.

Working in

that capacity was invaluable experience and gave him a keener understanding of

the nuts and bolts of running a county, Gerardo said.

“I understand local

government and the need to link with our big brother governments—the federal

and state governments,” Gerardo said.

As civili defense director for

nearly 20 years, Gerardo saw Kaua’i at some of the worst times in its

history—Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The storms

devastated the island. In their wake, Gerardo worked with the military and

emergency relief workers to restore normalcy through the delivery of emergency

goods and services to residents.

Today, he said, he has his eyes on helping

Kaua’i by:

* Keeping the island’s economy strong as the sugar

industry—once the largest employer on Kaua’i and in Hawaii —fades.


downturn of our economy is facing us, despite an upturn for the rest of our

nation,” Gerardo said. “Our sugar industry, the backbone for Kaua’i and Hawai’i

for a very long time, indicates that it is facing its last leg of operations as

an industry.”

Sugar employees who will be displaced as more plantations

close will have to find alternate employment, he said.

* Improving public

safety programs. Gerardo said there’s a need to reduce crime and make the

island safe for residents and visitors.

* Working with the state Department

of Education to improve educational programs for children.

* Preserving

Kauai’s natural beauty.

* Making sure the county keeps pace with

technological advances and prosperity the rest of the nation


Gerardo takes no stand on whether the current council members are

doing their jobs. Gerardo said change in the makeup of the council “will come

about because it is needed and a demand for change is made by the


As civil defense director, he said, he introduced to the council

two “important” pieces of proposed legislation related to emergency management

programs and operations.

A longtime Koloa resident, Gerardo has been

married for 37 years and has four children and four grandchildren. He attended

Hanama’ulu Elementary School, Kaua’i High School, National Technical Schools,

Kaua’i Community College, University of Hawaii at Manoa and technical schools

and colleges as a county employee.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be

reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@pulitzer.net


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