Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023 |
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Donovan: ‘We need a
balanced point of view’
By DENNIS WILKEN
As a woman, Maryanne Kusaka is a rarity in Kaua’i County
Other than the mayor, there is not a single woman on the
County Council or in any other elected office. And at least during last month’s
primary election, voters didn’t see fit to change that particular political
Rhoda Libre’s 10th-place finish in a field of 16 contestants was
the best a female candidate could do.
Libre garnered 2,441 votes, 2.4
percent of the primary total.
Finishing 12th, 66 votes behind Libre, was J.
Kauilani Kahalekai. In 14th place was second-time council candidate Anne M.
Donovan, with 1,248 of the 13,464 votes (39.6 percent of total registered
voters) cast during the primary.
It’s not that female politicians are not
popular with Hawaii’s voters in county governments. On the Big Island, three of
nine current council members are women. In the city and county of Honolulu, two
of the nine seated council members are women. And Maui has one woman serving
with eight of her colleagues on its council.
At the state level, two of
Kauai’s five-person delegation in the Legislature are women.
All three of
the women running for the council here agree that Kaua`i must join the other
islands in giving an elected voice to women.
But it won’t be easy in the
general election, where only the top seven votegetters Nov. 7 will be elected
Most veteran political observers only see one current council
member possibly losing his seat, most likely either incumbent Billy Swain, who
finished seventh in the primary, or another first-time incumbent, Daryl
Kaneshiro, who finished eighth.
If one of them is ousted, the replacement
appears much more likely to be former council member Bill (Kaipo) Asing than
Libre, Kahalekai or Donovan. Asing finished a strong third in the primary,
pulling down 8,115 of the votes.
Libre thinks a woman on the council is an
important enough issue that she’s added the idea to her campaign. Her slogan
(“New face. Fresh ideas. A time of change”) now ends with “Add a woman’s point
“We see things in our own way. It’s a way of looking at issues
and ideas that’s needed on this council,” Libre said.
her background in solid waste and her long residence on Kaua`i would help her
bring “a woman’s perspective” to the council.
Donovan, who ran and lost
once before for a council seat, also believes it is essential that a feminine
viewpoint be added to the political debate.
“It’s kind of difficult to
convince people on Kaua`i to change. Getting new voters into the pool is pretty
difficult. In the 18 years I’ve been here, only three females have served on
the council,” Donovan noted.
She said that herself, Libre and Kahalekai
“are single parents who are also working. There are lots of super women on this
island. I think one of us would get elected if we could just show the general
public that a woman would make a difference.”
“We need a balanced
point of view,” Donovan said. “I think women think a little more long-term and
see the bigger picture. As a woman, I could be looking at how to make the
process work better.”
And Donovan has no patience with any suggestion that
a woman might be less forceful than a man.
“It wouldn’t be a problem for
the three of us running. I don’t think any one of us would be intimidated,” she
Libre and Kahalekai would certainly agree.
Kaua`i voters will
decide if any of the ambitious trio will change the gender politics for the
next two years on the council.
Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be
reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and firstname.lastname@example.org
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