Lani Kawahara, a Kapa‘a High School graduate with a master’s degree in library and information science, stepped into the political arena last week.
On July 18, she announced her candidacy for Kaua‘i County Council in the upcoming election.
“The desire to give back to the community that raised me and to help people on an islandwide level motivated me to run for County Council,” Kawahara said in a news release.
In her work helping people as a library branch manager, she sees the daily challenges and struggle many residents face — some need help with resumes, computer access or getting government information. Whatever the task, it makes her want to do something more to help.
“It is my job and my nature to listen to everyone and determine the best way to help them,” Kawahara said.
Kawahara’s interest in government and politics was whetted in 2004 while helping with Sen. Gary Hooser’s successful re-election campaign and then during the 2005 legislative session as a legislative aide to Hooser at the State Capitol.
Kawahara said she believes her work in the Legislature gave her valuable experience on the intricacies of the legislative process and her 11 years of service with the state gives her first-hand knowledge of how government works and what it can do better.
Kawahara’s legislative priorities are supporting and expanding affordable housing opportunities, increasing and preserving beach access and expanding and clarifying shoreline setbacks, supporting increased energy efficiency and exploring the feasibility of alternative energy resources, and addressing solid waste disposal challenges.
Though her run for a slot on the seven-member council may seem an unusual career detour, Kawahara said it is another way to help people. Finding reliable information on issues, evaluating it and then making a decision are important skills for librarians and legislators alike.
She said she places great importance on listening to and working with diverse groups of people with various opinions in order to make good decisions that will benefit the entire community.
In May she combined business and interest in governmental processes during a visit to Washington, D.C. She and state librarian Richard Burns met with Sen. Daniel Akaka, Rep. Maize Hirono and key staff members in the offices of Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Neil Abercrombie to discuss legislative priorities and concerns relating to Hawai‘i’s public libraries.
She ran as a candidate at the Hawai‘i Democratic Party’s state convention in June to represent Hawai‘i as a delegate to the 2008 national Democratic Party Convention, which she came close to winning.
Kawahara, who now lives at Wailua Homesteads, has been a Kaua‘i resident since her family moved here when she was 3.
To ask questions on specific issues, host a coffee hour or help with Kawahara’s campaign, call 652-6741 or e-mail email@example.com
For more information, visit www.lanikawahara.com