If elected to the Kaua’i County Council, Ken Stokes said he will tackle some of Kaua’i’s biggest challenges, including fiscal responsibility in government, urban sprawl and better public access to government information.
Stoke said he is running for public office because he believes Kauaians want new leadership with the departure of councilmembers Ron Kouchi, Randal Valenciano, Bryan Baptiste, all mayoral candidates, and Gary Hooser, a candidate for Kaua’i’s senatorial seat.
“The exciting thing about the race is here comes a bunch of new leadership offering themselves up. I like to think I am one of them,” Stokes said.
Stokes last served as a public official in New Haven, Conn. in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
If elected to the council, Stokes said he will strive to find solutions to these issues:
– Leadership. Stokes said he will collect public viewpoints, examine options and build “much greater consensus” on policy issues before holding public hearings.
Many council members are well-informed on issues, but public meetings drag on because Kauaians have to spend too much time explaining to legislators what is important to them, Stokes contends.
The council members can better address the needs of their constituents by either meeting with them or communicating with them on the Internet, Stokes said.
“There are some council people who take home phone calls and network, and those who did are more likely to be rewarded than those who don’t,” Stokes said.
– Sprawl. Find ways to compel developers to follow through on promised improvements benefiting the public in a timely manner.
“Positively incorporate a smart growth approach into the (county) general plan to achieve much greater community benefit from new development and ensure consistent adherence to the plan,” Stokes said.
– Empowerment. To get more public participation in government, efforts should be made to promote much greater access to county information through Internet tools.
More support also should be given to community-based planning in all communities on Kaua’i, Stokes said.
– Diversification. Support Kaua’i businesses and artists.
– Inequity. Aggressively upgrade county budgeting methods and revise property assessment procedures.
– The creation of more watershed councils to protect water and land resources.
Stokes said he is working with others to create a watershed council for East Kaua’i. To protect resources in Nawiliwili and Maha’ulepu, Stokes said he is teaching Kauaians how to use computer mapping tools.
Stokes said he “is a proven and trusted networker” on community initiatives.
Since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, Stokes said he has “dedicated his life to helping community groups throughout Kaua’i,” helping residents with training programs, research, guidance and support.
Stokes was a columnist for the Garden Island News, covering issues related to sustainability and planning.
He also was a talk show host on KKCR/Kaua’i Community Radio, providing a forum for Kaua’i issues.
Stokes also continues to discuss community issues through Kauaian.net/taropatch.
In his new book, “Tending the Garden Island,” Stokes offers to readers what he has described as “in-depth, eye-opening social, historical, political and geophysical data.
The book, he said, is a “surprising, positive progress report; a compelling vision for moving Kaua’i forward.”
Stokes also has been a government consultant, was a two-term council member in New Haven, Conn., and has prided him as being an innovative entrepreneur in technology and tourism.
Stokes holds a masters in business administration from Stanford and pursued a doctorate degree in economics at Syracuse University.