As chairman of the Kaua’i Republican Party since 2002, Ron Agor, architect and Land Board member, has worked behind the scenes to build the power of the party and to extend the political might of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.
He also took pride in grooming Republican candidates on Kaua’i to expand the party’s power.
Yesterday, Agor announced he will run on the Republican ticket for the state House of Representatives District 15 seat (Lihu’e-Koloa), which is being vacated by Lihu’e Democrat Ezra Kanoho following his 20 years of service.
Kanoho has endorsed James Tokioka, currently the vice chairman of the Kaua’i County Council.
Agor announced his candidacy for the legislative seat during the Kauai Republican Party Convention held at the Kauai Beach Hotel and Resort at Nukoli’i Saturday.
About 40 party members attended. They will serve as Kaua’i delegates at the Hawaii Republican Party Convention, scheduled from May 26 to May 28 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel on O’ahu.
“I am stepping up to the plate, duty first to re-invigorate the party,” Agor said of his candidacy.
Agor decided he no longer wanted to be the behind-the-scenes power broker for the Kaua’i Republican Party after Tokioka and councilman Jay Furfaro, a Princeville resort executive, switched parties to join the Hawai’i Democratic Party.
“We knew that Ezra was going to retire either in 2004 or 2006, and our long-range plan was to have one of our guys run for his seat,” Agor said.
Both Tokioka and Furfaro are capable political leaders, Agor said, but it was Tokioka who took the leap first, publicly announcing his bid for Kanoho’s seat.
But with both Furfaro and Tokioka having left the Republican Party fold, and no other Republican Party candidates on the horizon who could be immediately groomed to challenge for the 15h District seat, Agor decided he could fill the void.
“The whole party is supportive,” Agor said. “The motto is one district at a time.” He said Republican Party leaders want him to take the 15th House District, and will mobilize party members from across the island to support him.
The party leaders will then set their sights on unseating House Rep. Hermina Morita, District 14 (Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapa’a and Waipouli) and House Rep. Bertha Kawakami, District 16 (Ni’ihau, Lehua, Koloa and Waimea), Agor said. Both Morita and Kawakami are incumbent Democrats.
Agor said he feels he has the credentials to be a successful state legislator for Kaua’i.
Agor has been an architect for 20 years and is owner of Agor Architecture. He will be going into semi-retirement in April to run his campaign.
As chairman of the Kaua’i Republican Party, he helped get Mayor Bryan Baptiste elected in 2002 and campaigned aggressively to help Lingle become the first Republican governor in Hawai’i in 40 years.
If elected, he said he will give up his post as the party chairman.
Agor serves as the Kaua’i representative with the Board of Land and Natural Resources, but if elected, he will relinquish that post. He is serving his third year with the board.
Agor sees himself as a leader.
He is the current vice president and co-founder of the Kauai Association of Architects, the vice president of the YMCA of Kauai, a board member of the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce, member of the Kaua’i County Building Permit Task Force, member of the Kaua’i County Drug Treatment Committee and a past vice president and president of the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce.
He has worked with Baptiste in developing the island’s first adolescent drug treatment center, to be located in Hanapepe, and he supported efforts to build the island’s first homeless shelter and transitional housing project, to be located in Lihu’e and to be operated by Kauai Economic Opportunity.
He also has worked with the Kauai Food Bank and worked with others in developing the Calvary Church facilities in Kapa’a.
Agor said his strength is his ability to work with people.
If elected, he said he will spend more time with constituents in district than with legislators on O’ahu.
“My basic philosophy is that I want to solve problems at the local levels, working with non-profit organizations , because they know the problems of our community,” Agor said.
If elected, he pledged to find a solution to a problem that has been a burden to the district he wants to win for nearly a decade — non-stop traffic congestion on Kuhio Highway between Wailua and Kapa’a town.
He said he wants to hear the pros and cons of building more bypass roads and expanding more of Kuhio Highway into four lanes.
Agor said he wants to meet with business people and residents from the Kapa’a area to get their perspectives.
Agor’s announcement drew support from Sam Aiona, chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party.
In a fax to the Garden Island, Aiona said, “We are thrilled to have someone of Ron Agor’s caliber running for the state House (seat),” he said. “Ron represents all that is good for Kaua’i, and he will make a good representative for the people of the Garden Isle.”
Also attending the Republican gathering at the Kauai Beach Hotel to show support for Agor were former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, and still a strong political ally of Lingle, Keith M. Nakano, the executive director of the Hawai’i Republican Party and Bill Harper and John Hoff, staunch Kaua’i Republican Party members.
Also in attendance were Dr. Ramon Dela Pena, the Kaua’i representative on the University of Hawai’i Board of Regents, Oscar Portugal, the executive director of the Kaua’i Filipino Chamber of Commerce, and Rudy Sina, a board member of the Kaua’i Filipino Chamber.
The Kaua’i Republican Party boasts 1200 registered party members.
Agor, a resident of Lihu’e, is married to Anne Langenfeld (her maiden name), a real estate agent. The couple, married for 36 years, has two grown children and two grandchildren.
- Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@ kauaipubco.com.