Kahalekai: Don’t lose all of ‘old’ Kaua’i


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

garbage problem.

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,”

she said.

Kaua’i boasts pristine natural beauty that needs to be

protected, she said.

She also promotes the need to protect Hawaiian culture

and language.

“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

education programs.

Kahalekai performs at Duke’s Canoe Club and the

Sheraton Kaua’i Po’ipu, and she serves as an activities director for Hanalei

Town Activities.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681

(ext. 225) and lchang@pulitzer.net


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