The mayoral candidates talk platform

Rolf Bieber

Kapa‘a resident Rolf Bieber wants to apply his open book philosophy to county government.

“There’s a disconnect between our leadership and our people,” he said. “I want to bring transparency. That kind of thing may be threatening to our leadership, but it’s the people here, the residents, who really deserve that kind of openness.” Bieber, a newcomer to the political scene, said if he is elected mayor of Kaua‘i this fall that he will donate his salary to Kaua‘i programs and charities. The budget for the position is $111,370.

“It’s not just a symbolic gesture,” he said. “We need our leadership to do the heavy lifting, to do a little bit more. And I’ll be asking our residents to do a little bit more too.” The candidate is running for office with money out of his pocket, asking those who like his message to donate their would-be campaign contributions to charity instead.

Raising money for the campaign is not out of the question, Bieber said, but the people need that money more in these harder times.

It is just another way to restore the “give and take” balance of government, he said.

The pendulum currently swings too far on the side of big business and the tourism industry, Bieber said.

“Obviously, the tourism industry is huge,” he said. “But my concern is how are we taking care of our residents. What is the future for the people who live here?” The candidate said he is “blown away” by the amount of sprawl and urban growth that he has witnessed since moving to the island eight years ago.

“I’m not against the tourist industry,” he said. “I was a tourist. We should welcome tourists with open arms. But there’s always a cost. There’s a benefit for us and there’s a cost.”

The married father of three abandoned a successful career in the film industry — which included an Emmy Award for music editing — to raise his family on Kaua‘i.

“We made nice money. We had a nice home,” he said. “But we weren’t seeing each other. We were too into our careers. We had a nanny raising our kids. So we decided we needed to change.” The Biebers left Los Angeles after “falling head-over-heels in love with Kaua‘i” in 1999.

But Bieber said he still considers himself a visitor.

If elected mayor on Nov. 4, Bieber said he would work to create more affordable housing. But he said it should be better quality than the “apartment complexes” slowly going up around the island.

He pointed at the affordable housing project under construction on a site along Kuhio Highway next to Kintaro Japanese Restaurant on the Eastside as an example.

“It’s an apartment complex that is being jammed into an area that is already very dense and tight with traffic,” Bieber said.

“I feel that our leadership is catering to big business first and reacting later to the infrastructure concerns,” he said. “Let’s get them in there, get their tax money and then later we’ll figure out traffic and solid waste.” The candidate said his long-term vision of the island is sustainable and it starts with addressing energy consumption.

“I don’t think we have an energy crisis on the island,” he said. “I think we have a political and economic crisis on the island. We have more than enough sun, wind and water. And we have the people that can do the job.” Bieber said implementing solar technology is essential and exploring biofuels is important.

The candidate said Kaua‘i is “one community.” “I don’t want to be king of the island, I want to have an influence that benefits the people,” he said.

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Bernard Carvalho

More than 100 supporters cheered as county Parks and Recreation Director Bernard Carvalho Jr. descended the steps of the Historic County Building after filing to run for mayor in early July.

“The people. That’s where it’s at,” he said. “My strength is in strengthening families.” The 46-year-old Kaua‘i native said he had planned to run in 2010, but the decision to enter the race was expedited after Mayor Bryan Baptiste unexpectedly died in June.

Among his supporters is Annette Baptiste, wife of the late mayor, and her four children.

“I understand the challenges and I want to help,” he said. “I want to use my knowledge and experience to bring people together in this critical time of need.” The former football star began working for the county in 1985 at an entry level position within the Department of Public Works Recreation Division.

He held various management positions with the county until he was appointed by Baptiste as director of Offices of Community Assistance in December 2002. He oversaw that operation — which included the Housing, Recreation, Elderly Affairs and Transportation Agencies — until he was tapped last year to create the newly formed Parks and Recreation Department.

During his tenure as a member of Baptiste’s administration, Carvalho said he has been responsible for a number of important initiatives.

These include expanding The Kaua‘i Bus service, starting numerous affordable housing projects and leading two internal county task forces for fast-tracking those projects through the permitting process and another that was responsible for the construction of the coastal multi-use path. He has also continued to work with the Hanama‘ulu community to make improvements to Hanama‘ulu Beach Park.

The Parks and Recreation Department was created by charter amendment in the 2006 general election. Carvalho helped develop and implement the organizational plan for the department.

In addition to working for the county, Carvalho has also held positions in the airline and visitor industry on Kaua‘i.

“I’ve experienced county government from the bottom up and the top down,” he said. “And I have more than 20 years combined experience in the private sector.” Collaboration is the key to success, he said.

“Government can learn a lot from the private sector,” he said. “I intend to work closely with small business, the visitor industry and other stakeholders in our local economy to overcome these challenges.” Carvalho graduated from Kapa‘a High School in 1979 and attended the University of Hawai‘i on a full-ride athletic scholarship for football. He graduated in 1983 with a degree in communications and public relations before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, where he played for two years before “deciding it was time to get married.” His wife is the former Regina “Gina” Godinez of Oceanside, Calif. They have three children: Bronson, 23, a St. Louis High School graduate who is currently a senior at Alcorn State University in Mississippi; Brennen, 21, a Kamehameha School graduate who attended Portland State University and is currently trying out for the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin; and Brittney, 19, a Kapa‘a High School graduate who just finished her freshman year at Western Oregon University and will be transferring to UH Manoa in the fall.

“I love Kaua‘i,” Carvalho said. “This was my grandparents’ home, my parents’ home, and it’s where I want my children to make their home. Together, we can face the challenges before us to preserve our way of life and all that we cherish.”

Carvalho said he would look at van pools, and park and rides to meet transportation needs. He said he also wants to bring services out to the communities so everything is not centered around Lihu‘e.

“I truly want to look at people’s needs first … and find practical solutions,” he said.

Carvalho has been active with many community efforts. They include the State Fatherhood Commission, St. Catherine’s Church member of Pastoral Council and he participates in the music ministry program, Kawaihau District Leadership Coalition, Keanuenue Connection, Kapa‘a High School Parent Teacher Student Association president, Kamehameha Schools Association of Kaua‘i president and St. Catherine’s School Parent Teacher Guild president.

“It would be a privilege to serve as mayor and make an even greater contribution to this place that’s so precious to all of us,” Carvalho said.

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Mel Rapozo

Kaua‘i mayoral candidate Mel Rapozo quoted Robert Kennedy in his opening remarks at his press conference on the lawn in front of the Historic County Building when he announced his candidacy.

“The future is not a gift. It’s an achievement,” he said.

“Now is the time for leadership grown out of taking on the island’s toughest challenges and making the difficult, yet necessary decisions.” The candidate said he is running on his record of making tough decisions, demanding efficiency and promoting long overdue changes.

Rapozo, a former police officer who grew up in Lihu‘e, said he learned from his parents the importance of public service.

He has served on the council for nearly six years, but also represents the county on a state and national level.

“Council members from our sister counties O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i have shared that same level of confidence in my leadership by selecting me as president of the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties for the past two consecutive terms and a director of the National Association of Counties, Western Interstate Region,” he said. “These leadership opportunities have provided me with the unique and necessary preparation for the seat that I seek today.” As mayor, Rapozo said he would continue to strive for an efficient and responsible government that is responsive and accountable to its people.

“The next few years will be challenging,” Rapozo said. “We will have to focus on providing the core functions of government to the people, making sure that we deliver the necessary services to our residents in the most effective and efficient manner possible.” These core functions include public health and safety.

As mayor, Rapozo said he would set priorities in the Anti-Drug Office, as well as the Kaua‘i Police Department, to assure that only the best programs are being implemented.

The candidate said the county’s wastewater and solid waste systems have been in a crisis situation.

“With only a few years left until the Kekaha Landfill reaches capacity and the reality that a new landfill cannot be sited and constructed for at least seven to 10 years, it is clear that we are in trouble,” he said. “Why are we at this point? Simply because prior officials could not decide on a plan of action because of their fear of the potential political impact of subjecting a community to a landfill. I am here to tell you that I am ready to make the tough decisions to address this very serious problem.

“We don’t have time to think about it,” he said.

He said he has reached tentative agreements with private landowners that would alleviate traffic on both sides of the island.

“As mayor, I will immediately pursue agreements with private landowners to open up private lands to traffic so that our residents can spend less time on the road and more time at home, increasing their quality of life. We simply cannot wait for the state to take care of our traffic problems.” Quality of life means quality jobs, Rapozo said.

He said there will be “no excuses, just results.

“I know what this county is, I know what it has been, and I know what it can still become,” he said.

JoAnn Yukimura

Kaua‘i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura officially declared her candidacy for mayor in early July.

“I do so with humility, knowing what an extraordinary leader Mayor Baptiste was,” she said. “The mayor always had a sense of urgency and a need to get the job done for the benefit of Kaua‘i. I share that same desire because these issues affect the daily lives of all of us.” Yukimura, who has 30 years of public service under her belt, served as Kauai’s mayor from 1988 to 1994. She was a councilwoman in the late 1970s and returned to a seat there in 2002, the same year Baptiste was elected to his first term as mayor.

Yukimura, an attorney, was born and raised on Kaua‘i. The 58-year-old Lihu‘e resident said she has worked on local issues — which include solid waste, housing, preservation of agricultural lands, stadium lights, park maintenance and expansion and rapidly rising gasoline and electricity prices — her entire adult life.

Yukimura has a record on the council and as mayor for pushing forward initiatives that foster island sustainability. After Hurricane ‘Iniki ravaged the island in 1992, she said she started Kaua‘i’s first recycling and compost complex.

She also initiated the island’s first public transportation system, The Kaua‘i Bus. What began as a Lihu‘e to Kapa‘a route has grown into an islandwide system.

“Today, it is helping residents save money on a daily basis as the price of gas nears $5 a gallon,” she said.

If elected mayor, she said she would implement an integrated solid waste management plan and institute impact fees to force developers to pay a fair share of the impact they have on communities.

“We missed years of impact fees because we didn’t implement that study,” she said.

She said she would also update old plans, such as the Koloa-Po‘ipu development plan.

“But just doing plans alone won’t solve our problems,” she said.

Yukimura said she would continue her theme of open government. She noted how the real property tax board’s meetings became open to the public under her administration.

She said she would also advocate a policy to release legal opinions to the public where appropriate.

“My goal is to have county attorney opinions released when no privacy or liability issues are at stake,” she said. “It’s important for the public to have an understanding of the legal framework upon which we make our decisions.” Yukimura said as mayor she would bring together different sides to craft solutions to problems, such as how to decide when, if and how the Hawaii Superferry should return to the Garden Isle.

“The leaders we choose in the next election will make decisions that will set the course of this island for years to come,” she said. “Steady, clear, experienced leadership that continues and builds upon Mayor Baptiste’s legacy of aloha and kuleana is what I offer.” For more information, visit


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