Kaua’i voters chose County Council incumbents and newcomers in yesterday’s general election.
Signholding, campaign mailings, advertisements and public appearances to get their messages across seemed to make a difference for newcomers Mel Rapozo and Jay Furfaro in the non-partisan race.
Former Kaua’i mayor and councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura was returned to the council, garnering the most votes of any of the 14 candidates in the council election. After an eight-year hiatus from politics, Yukimura (D) garnered the most total votes, ending the night with 13,524 votes.
Yukimura (D), 53, of Kilauea, was a councilmember from 1976-80 and 1984-88; and served as mayor from 1988-90 and 1990-94.
“I’m hoping to set some goals as a body and have some training sessions for ourselves, and especially for the newcomers,” she said. She plans to expand public transportation and wants to protect land and ocean access by purchasing from private landowners; and is interested in community-networking drug abuse prevention programs.
Yukimura is also a Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board member, which turned over from Kauai Electric Nov. 1. Co-op ownership will offer lower costs and protect against dramatic rate hikes after any natural or other disaster, because the KIUC will be eligible for federal emergency funding, she says.
“I want to commend all the candidates. It’s a very tough job to run for any office, and the candidates gave us a choice,” she added.
William “Kaipo” Asing (D) received the second-highest amount of votes. Asing, 72, of Lihu’e, has been among the top three vote-getters in every primary and general election since 1992, and is serving his 20th year on the Kaua’i County Council.
This year, some of Asing’s pursuits included an exemption for smoking in certain restaurants; and helped come up with ways to act on Pflueger’s illegal grubbing and grading at Pila’a. He was not available for comment at press time.
James Kunane Tokioka (R), has served on the council since 1996 and will be starting his fourth term. Tokioka, 41, of Lihue, stayed at the no. 3 spot.
Tokioka is involved with the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, founded the Kaua’i NetExpo and is a restauranteur. “My message has been about preserving the island lifestyle and the experience I bring to the table,” he said Monday.
Jay Furfaro (R), 53, of Princeville, was the fourth-highest vote-getter.
Furfaro mentioned earlier in the evening that he wasn’t taking his ranking for granted until all the votes were counted.
Furfaro has had more than 30 years experience in hotel management, and is the general manager of the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort. He is on several boards dealing with zoning regulations and the hotel industry. He will step down from his position on the county planning commission with the new administration change.
Daryl Kaneshiro (D), 52, of ‘Oma’o, took 5th place. A two-term councilmember since 1998, Kaneshiro will start his fifth year on the council.
He is an account executive for Kauai Petroleum Co. and owner of Omao Farms, is the Koloa Town Activity Center manager and serves on the executive board of the Kauai Cattlemen’s Association. Kaneshiro’s was former mayor Tony Kunimura’s executive assistant.
Mel Rapozo (N), 38, of Kapa’a, rose to 6th place and will become the youngest member of the council. Rapozo is a private investigator and former Kaua’i Police Department detective.
He was unsuccessful in 1998’s council race and didn’t run in 2000. Using “issue-specific” advertising, he was successful in getting his message across: He’s going to deal with the issues head-on.
“There’s a lot more votes to be counted…I feel really good about the turnout right now,” Rapozo said after the first printout, from his campaign headquarters in Lihu’e.
Maurice “Joe” Munechika (D), was a councilman from 1986-94, and joins others with council experience. Munechika, 69, of Lihue, was the sixth vote-getter after the primary. He is involved with numerous community and business organizations. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956-78 and among other honors, received the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.
“It feels great,” Munechika said, “I just want to thank the people from Kauai & Ni’ihau. I was somewhat afraid – I’ve been out of office for awhile, and maybe they might have forgotten me, but the voter turnout tonight showed that they remembered me and remembered that I worked hard for them in the past; and I’ll continue to work hard in the future.”
The seven candidates who finished out of the running in order of placing were:
Ernest Moniz (D), 52, of Kalaheo. During his campaign, Moniz announced his retirement from his position as Kaua’i Fire Department Battalion Chief after 32 years experience.
John Barretto (R), 69, of Kapa’a, was on the council from 1982-86. A one-time councilman, Barretto was an outspoken candidate regarding solid waste and Kaua’i’s growth explosion.
Ray Chuan (N), 78, of Hanalei, was consistently one of the top 10 vote-getters in the north and east precincts.
Ray Paler (D), 47, a Lihue-based small businessman. His two main issues were the youth and elderly, and increasing community services.
Rhoda Makanani Libre (D), 41, of Kaumakani had a campaign slogan that stated: “Actions speak louder than words.” She said her work with public service projects and community projects will continue past the election season.
Erick T.S. Moon (D), 59, Kapa’a, is an attorney in private practice, who ran on his public service record .
George Menor (D), 63, of Lihu’e, a former county planning commissioner and engineer, cited business experience.