Election season officially starts

LIHU’E — Both Jesse Fukushima and Tim Bynum fully intended to file to run for office yesterday, the first day candidates could turn in that paperwork.

Then they were faced with the reams of forms to be filled out, requirements to provide black-and-white photos, and other obligations, and quickly realized they would not be able to be among the first in the state to officially file papers formalizing their candidacies.

At least not yesterday.

There was the Campaign Spending Commission information, candidates’ manual, and much more, with the submission information being explained to the candidates by Office of the County Clerk Elections Division staff members.

They only accept cash, cashier’s checks and money orders as forms of payment for the candidate filing fee.

So the candidates will have to get their information lined up before formally filing candidate paperwork, likely next week.

Yesterday, Bynum and incumbent Mel Rapozo both filed to run for County Council, and Fukushima, a former multi-term member of the County Council, filed to run for mayor.

Last month, Fukushima called a press conference to announce his candidacy, intending to file the same day, only to find out that Feb. 1 was the first day candidates could take out and file papers.

Bynum made an event out of his announcement yesterday, with wife Gini Bynum laying out a spread of pastries, drinks and other breakfast items on the lawn of the historic County Building, calling supporters together to eat before a select few of them went into the County Building Office of the County Clerk Elections Division office to get the requisite forms.

This way, he could at least claim he was first on Kaua’i to take out papers to run for County Council. The early arrival also made it possible for supporters to join him before having to go off to work.

Both Bynum and Fukushima said they would be filing their paperwork with elections officials as early as next week.

With at least one confirmed vacancy expected on the council, with Vice Chair Jimmy Tokioka announcing he will run for the state House of Representatives seat being vacated this year by state Rep. Ezra Kanoho, D-Wailua-Lihu’e-Koloa, there likely will be a host of candidates vying for the seven seats.

Bynum said Tokioka’s move made easier his decision to run. “Having an opening changes the complexion,” said Bynum, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2004 when all seven incumbents also ran for re-election.

Bynum’s strategy will be one utilizing information on why he would be a good fit with the remaining councilmembers, instead of the here’s-why-to-vote-for-me strategy he was forced to employ in 2004.

He placed ninth in 2004, behind the seven current council members and incumbent Joe Munechika.

Rapozo is seeking a third consecutive, two-year term, elected to the council in 2002 and re-elected in 2004.

Bynum said Tokioka’s presence on the council will be missed.

With wife Gini Bynum, campaign chair Puna Dawson, treasurer Thomas Noyes and around two dozen other supporters, Bynum posed for photos on the steps of the historic County Building, and announced early campaign activities including roadside campaigning Friday morning in Wailua, and Friday afternoon in Puhi.

The idea is to get the word out early and often about his candidacy, he said.

“For the 2004 campaign, our team started a bit late, worked really hard, and then tallied a respectable share of the votes,” said Dawson.

“People were beginning to recognize Tim, and were agreeing that he would be a good choice for council. This year we are launching the campaign early so we’ll have ample time to get our message out,” said Dawson in a press release.

Currently serving as the executive director of Leadership Kaua’i, Bynum has long been involved with community projects.

He is the founder of The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, and coordinated the Kamalani Playground and Kamalani Kai Bridge community-build projects.

He worked for Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste as a community-response specialist, and facilitated Ka Leo O Kaua’i, community-involvement meetings.

Bynum is a marriage and family therapist and social worker with 26 years experience, including time as a program director for counseling programs at the YWCA of Kauai and Child and Family Service.

For two years, Bynum was director of the Children’s Advocacy Center on Kaua’i, a program of the state Judiciary. In addition to his other activities, Bynum hosts continuing-education conferences on Kaua’i through his small-business entity, Hawai’i Conference Associates.

“Kaua’i is in a critical period. We all have to work together to deal with the challenges our successes have brought,” Bynum stated in a press release.

“The huge increase in real-property values, coupled with the serious lack of affordable housing, have deepened concerns for our children’s ability to stay here on Kaua’i and prosper.”

Bynum says he supports the community’s involvement in decision-making. “Through my work with individuals, families and communities, I have found the best practice is to first listen, then seek agreement, and finally act decisively to get things done.”

Bynum lives in Wailua with Gini Bynum, his wife of 30 years, who is a nurse with Dr. Martha Ryker in Lihu’e. Their son David Bynum graduated from Kapa’a High School last year, and their daughter Kelly Bynum is a sophomore at Kapa’a High School.

More of Bynum’s ideas for Kaua’i are at the campaign Web site, www.timforkauai.com.

The candidate-filing deadline for this year’s elections is 4:30 p.m. July 25, and the primary election is Sept. 23. The general election is Nov. 7.

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