Case working to solve Kaua’i’s traffic and drug problems

Twice-elected Democratic Congressman Ed Case paid a visit Friday to thank supporters and discuss Kaua’i issues with Mayor Bryan Baptiste.

Case’s top Kaua’i campaign leaders Louie Abrams and Dean Toyofuku helped organize a dinner at Hanamaulu Cafe held Friday night for his Kaua’i main campaign supporters.

“This was our best county throughout the entire state,” Case said of his election results during a stop at The Garden Island Friday afternoon.

Case said Kaua’i voters helped him win the special election held Jan. 4. He’s now seated as for two years as the replacement in Congress for the late Patsy Mink.

He said the count of votes cast for him on Kaua’i edged out the County of Hawai’i for his best winning margin in the 2nd Congressional District election. The district includes rural O’ahu plus the neighbor island counties.

The congressman said he met with Mayor Bryan Baptise following a visit earlier in the week to newly-elected Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.

“One pretty big issue is transportation, it’s a huge issue on Kaua’i and Maui and rural O’ahu,” Case said of items discussed with the neighbor island mayors.

It’s time to upgrade their infrastructure, and its the turn of the 2nd District to receive a larger percentage of Hawai’i’s federal transportation funding, he said.

“Congress operates on a six-year cycle for transportation, and in 2003 Congress takes up transportation projects,” Case said, adding that during his current tour of his district he’s been drawing up a list of projects that need attention.

He said increased funding for the attack against drug abuse in the 2nd District, in particular the use of ice, is another top issue.

“The federal government can assist substantially,” Case said. He said he recently met on the Big Island with Tommy Thompson, the federal Director of Health and Human Services, and that Thompson has promised to meet with him in Washington D.C. on support for the fight on the ice problem in Hawai’i.

“Mayor Baptiste seems optimistic that (the federal program anti-drug dealing) Weed and Seed could have an effect on Kaua’i; I’m very encouraged by his direction on the issue, Case said.

Linking jobs at the Pacific Missile Range Facility with training in local high schools is another issue Case said he is working on. A recent meeting at Pearl Harbor with the Navy’s head of PMRF, along with a discussion with the mayor, showed that there’s support for the expansion and integration of PMRF with community.

The base at Barking Sands won’t be on a list of base closings scheduled for release later this year, Case said. “It’s been expanded and improved and its role has increased,” he said of the local Navy’s base’s key role in development of anti-theater range missile defense systems.

On the North Shore, Case said he’s supporting the federal Heritage River work being done at Hanalei, and said he plans to continue Patsy Mink’s efforts on federal assistance for the fields of Hanalei’s taro growers.

He said he also supports federal assistance for East Kaua’i’s irrigation system, and for increasing the supply of potable water at Kilauea.

The No Child Left Behind education act needs to be amended to allow for schools like the Westside’s Ke Kula Ni’ihau O Kekaha. The school emphasizes hiring those fluent in Native Hawaiian over those who hold secondary degrees, he said, and such situations need to be given a different type of review. He said a similar situation exists on the Big Island where there is a Micronesian immigrant community.

“I’m trying to develop a very ambitious agenda,” Case said of his support for Kaua’i and plans to stay in close communication with local residents and officials. He said he plans to revisit the island during congressional recesses to “talk story” with local residents at community meetings. Case said he’s created a “virtual” office that includes his chief aides that he can take to rural towns like Hanalei during his time away from Washington. – TGI Editor Chris Cook can be reached at mailto:ccook@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 227).

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