Kaipo Asing’s unorthodox campaign style is successful

County Councilmember Bill “Kaipo” Asing is the first to tell other candidates they may do better not imitating his campaign style.

He has no bumper stickers, no brochures, and only enough yard signs (eight) to support his sole campaign strategy – roadside sign-waving.

Yet in the past 20 years or so, the only time he has finished an election race out of the money was when he ran for mayor in 1998, finishing third in the primary, behind Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and former County Councilmember Mary Thronas.

Even his campaign organization barely extends beyond his family. “I have a lot of friends who help in their own way, that I appreciate a lot,” said Asing, who is seeking re-election to the County Council.

The way he campaigns is not the way to run a campaign, he said. And each election, his results surprise him.

“Every election is a new election. This is a new election, and I just don’t know what is out there.”

But the results speak for themselves. In primary and general elections since 1992, the lowest Asing has placed is third (with the top seven candidates winning election to the council in general elections). On several occasions, he placed first in both the primary and general.

Asing this year pulled papers for both mayor and council, and said he decided not to run for mayor because he didn’t have access to funds necessary to wage a mayoral campaign.

His campaign theme, like his campaigning style, remains largely unchanged. “The number-one concern is that we have honesty, integrity, with our elected officials. To me, if we have that, people willing to work for good, normal things for the good of the island, that’s good,” he said.

Protecting the environment, protecting local businesses, and providing support and protection for the island’s number-one industry, tourism, are important, he said.

Agricultural lands need protection, so they can remain in agriculture. “There’s work to be done there,” he said.

Maintaining beach and mountain accesses is important, too. “All of these things can be worked out,” in an atmosphere of honesty and cooperation, he said.

Asked why he is seeking re-election, Asing said, “I feel comfortable” on the council. “I want to serve, I understand the work, I feel qualified to do the work, to represent all the segments.”

Still, after 19 years in elected office, he finds himself in the position of having to explain to business people that he is not anti-business. “Look at the record,” he says, using as an example his vote against a proposal to grant the island’s credit unions exemption from county real property taxes.

He voted that way because a “yes” vote wouldn’t have been fair to banks, savings and loans and other financial institutions which didn’t also get the exemption, he said.

Asing, who worked for Hawaiian Telephone (now Verizon) for 40 years, knows he upset some of his constituents by voting against a council compromise position regarding the sale of Kauai Electric.

He lives in Lihu’e with his wife. They have five children and five grandchildren.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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