Ezra Kanoho to run for re-election to House

Citing his accomplishments and experience during nearly 16 years in office, state House Rep. Ezra Kanoho formally filed nomination papers marking his bid for re-election.

Kanoho, a Democrat, will run for the newly reapportioned 15th house district, a district that encompasses parts of Lawa’i and Koloa, Lihu’e and Wailua Homesteads.

Going head to head in the Sept. 21 primary election with Kanoho will be Juan Lugo, a Republican who also has filed papers to run for that post.

Dr. Harold C. Spear III, has taken out papers to run for Kanoho’s seat but has yet to file.

In a written statement, Kanoho pointed to his experience:

– He heads the House Committee on Water and Land, which encompasses ocean marine resources. Supporters of his reelection bid said Kanoho played a key role in the passage of a bill providing immunity for lifeguards statewide.

Averaging more drownings each year than any other county because of exposure to treacherous ocean currents, Kaua’i County stands to benefit significantly from the new law.

On Kaua’i, lifeguards are being placed at state beaches and northernmost beaches, which were previously not patrolled and accounted for a majority of drownings.

– Kanoho sits on the House committees on Consumer Affairs, Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs and Energy and Environmental Protection.

– Kanoho also was chairman of the House Legislative Management Committee for eight years; chairman of the House Finance subcommittees on purchase of services, grants-in-aid and subsidies for ten years and a member of the House Finance Committee for 14 years.

Kanoho’s top priorities:

– Education. “Education is, has been and will always be my foremost priority,” Kanoho said.

Kanoho said he has brought funding to schools in his district (King Kaumuali’i School, Kapa’a Middle School and Chiefess Kamakahelei School).

“I will continue to help obtain the needed resources to insure that the best possible education is provided for our children,” Kanoho said.

– Economic initiatives. Kanoho said he has successfully secured funding for important projects on Kaua’i.

In addition to securing $43 million for the new state Judiciary courthouse off Kapule Highway, Kanoho said he was successful in securing funding for the Lihu’e Airport, Nawiliwili Harbor, Kaua’i Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea and Mahelona Hospital in Kapa’a.

Kanoho said he also secured funding for an athletic and swimming pool complex on Kaua’i and agricultural developments, including irrigation systems one operated by sugar plantations. County officials have said the systems are essential to preserving the island’s agricultural industry.

Money also has been secured to promote Kaua’i and to improve state parks and the island’s public water system.

– Natural Resources.

Kanoho said more effort and funds should be allotted for the preservation of the land, forests, watershed areas, rivers, beaches and the ocean.

The protection of resources can be accomplished through more enforcement of rules and joint public private partnerships, Kanoho said.

As chair of the House Committee of Water and Land Use, Kanoho vowed to “lead discussion from the 2002 legislative session on the preservation of agricultural lands and seek consensus on appropriate legislation to fulfill Hawai’i’s constitutional mandate.”

– Alternate energy.

Hawai’i’s dependency on fossil fueled needs to be “substantially decreased,” Kanoho said.

The development of cost-effective alternate energy sources to meet Hawai’i’s energy needs can best be accomplished through research partnerships with other states, the federal government and energy producers, he said.

– Hawaiian issues.

He said he would continue to work with the U.S. Congress and state legislators to counter court challenges and enable Hawaiians to retain their rights and entitlements provided in Hawai’i’s constitution and laws.

– Health care costs.

In the last session, state legislators passed measures to blunt rising health care costs (health care insurance regulations, Hawai’i RX and Medicare prescription drug discount plans and long-term care enabling legislation), Kanoho said.

However, lawmakers must continue to work to ensure the projects are properly implemented and administered, Kanoho said.

Possible abuses, situations that may cause costs to rise and additional cost-saving measures need to be identified and addressed, Kanoho said.

Kanoho said he is seeking reelection on the “strength of my strong positions on the difficult issues.”

“My record of service and accomplishments in the legislature, business and community have proven worthy of the deep trust which has been placed in me,” Kanoho said.

Clyde Kodani, Kanoho’s campaign chairman, said Kanoho has shown myself to be a “man of integrity” and one who is “always being conscientious, fair, honest, accessible and respectful of others.”

Kodani said Kanoho has shown his ability to “work with and through others – in the legislature, government, the private sector and in the community” to push through much – needed legislation and defeating measures he believes could have negative impact.

“Ezra is a proven leader in the legislature, business and the community,” Kodani said in the statement.

Kanoho said he also has served the community as president of the Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Kaua’i.

He also has served as either a director or officer with the Kaua’i Economic Development Board, Hawai’i Visitors Bureau and HVB Kaua’i chapter, Alu Like-Kaua’i Island Board, Kamehameha Schools Association, board of deacons with the Kawaiahao and Lihu’e First Church and the Takehiko Hasegawa Goodwill Scholarship Program. Kanoho also was president of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Kanoho worked for GTE Hawaiian Telephone (now Verizon) for more than 39 years before retiring in 1987.

Ten years prior to retiring, he served as the Kaua’i island manager for GTE.

From 1964 to 1977, Kanoho served as GTE’s statewide safety director. Kanoho also has held managerial, administrative and technical craft positions.

Kanoho is married to Pauline Kanoho, his wife of 51 years.

Kanoho is father of four sons, Reuben Kaipo Kanoho of the Honolulu Fire Department, Paul Kekaihoku Kanoho and Ezra Kanani Kanoho, both of the Kaua’i Police Department, and Solomon Kaiminoeau Kanoho of the Kaua’i Fire Department.

Ezra and Pauline Kanoho have six grandchildren.

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