y LESTER CHANGTGI Staff Writer
She would preserve land, culture
LIHU’E — If Kauilani Kahalekai is elected
to the Kaua’i County Council, she hopes to solve what she believes are the main
social, political and financial woes facing Kaua’i County.
She said she
would work to increase public awareness of the importance of perpetuating the
Hawaiian culture, check development and give more voice to the people.
Also high on her list is developing more programs for troubled youths and
single parents, including job training, and solving the island’s nagging
Kahalekai’s notion of controlled growth on Kaua’i had its
genesis 25 years ago when she moved here from Oahu. As a young girl, Kahalekai
remembers seeing only one signal light on the island—at a remote cane haul
road intersection in Kekaha.
The light symbolized a more rural past, when
the island’s population was small, the pace of life was unhurried and people
gave true aloha, she said.
“I want our families to know about the
importance of ohana (family) and sense of community,” said Kahalekai,
43-year-old mother of three adult children.
There is no turning the clock
back, she acknowledged. But steps can be taken to keep Kaua’i from becoming
overdeveloped, Kahalekai said.
“A lot of people don’t want this to become
so commercialized that we have lost the touch of what our island represents,”
Kaua’i boasts pristine natural beauty that needs to be
protected, she said.
She also promotes the need to protect Hawaiian culture
“We are the aboriginal people,” said Kahalekai, who is
Hawaiian. “We need to make sure the council becomes more aware of the
importance of the cultural preservation of the spirit and mind of the Hawaiian
The council also needs to solve the garbage problem, she said.
Kahalekai said she gained insight into the problem and solutions when she
worked in a county recycling program during then-Mayor JoAnn Yukimura’s
administration in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Before Hurricane Iniki in
1992, she worked as sales and marketing director for Browning Ferris
“We need to look at waste management programs in other areas
that are working instead of bringing in consultants to analyze our problems,”
Kahalekai said. “I would like to see a zero-waste program here on Kaua’i, like
the very successful one that has been developed in New Zealand.”
mills that have shut down can be reopened as recycling centers, she
“It will create jobs and serve to educate the public about the
serious necessity of recycling,” she said.
If elected, Kahalekai said she
would give more voice to the people in government matters. She said she also
would support legislation that would impose higher taxes on large businesses,
as a way to support small businesses.
Second to her goal of winning
election is her passion for helping at-risk youths. Kahalekai will work as a
subcontractor for the mayor’s Office of Youth Services for Parent Project
Kaua’i, which will be implemented in Waimea and Kalaheo in September and in
Kapa’a in October.
Kahalekai also has worked with Hale Opio and the Kukuna
program, which helped with the rehabilitation of incarcerated juveniles from
Kahalekai, whose role models are Queen Lili’ukolani and Martin
Luther King, graduated from Kaua’i High School and studied psychology at the
University of Hawai’i-Manoa. She also worked as a substitute teacher in special
Kahalekai performs at Duke’s Canoe Club and the
Sheraton Kaua’i Po’ipu, and she serves as an activities director for Hanalei
Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681
(ext. 225) and email@example.com