Leadership is our shared kuleana

During the past few months, we have had many opportunities to observe the politicians, candidates and others in our community demonstrate leadership at a time when our economy is challenged at all levels.

While we rely upon these leaders to make some of the most important decisions that will affect our economy and way of life, one thing we’ll need to keep in mind is not just the goal itself, but how that goal will be achieved — the journey and process.

My observation of Kaua‘i-style leadership in my work at the Chamber of Commerce and through involvement in community groups has led me to this one conclusion: We all have leadership qualities within us, and now more than ever is a time to take responsibility and be actively engaged in the process of helping our leaders to make the right decisions for our island, state and future.

The late Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s last campaign slogan was about “kuleana” (responsibility). It was Mayor Baptiste’s strong belief that Kaua‘i’s future is each of our own kuleana.

Whether you are an employee reading this article during a break or happen to be an entry-level supervisor, a coach, an educator, a business person or, yes, even a government employee, ultimately, we are all leaders in our own right and we have every opportunity to influence a decision.

At a recent County Council workshop, I experienced leadership and democracy at its best. The workshop was related to Real Property Tax Bill No. 2274. The intent of the bill is to provide comprehensive reform of the current tax code by encouraging the availability of affordable housing and home ownership on the island, promoting and preserving our sense of community within neighborhoods and preservation of our island’s rural character through sustainable farming activities.

You can read more about this bill by visiting the county’s Web site, www.kauai.gov

Council members heard from experts from various industry sectors as well as community members. The next day, the council deferred the bill. Each council member considered input from the previous day, their research and their values and sense of kuleana before arriving at that conclusion.

What mattered was that each member was patient in listening to testimony, asked questions in a respectful manner, made a decision on the publics’ input and, I truly believe, made the right decision at the time for Kaua‘i. A new council and administration will be in place in a few months and it was right because there’s no need to rush the bill for passage.

I’m not endorsing any candidate. What I am endorsing are decisions based on the best information, integrity, patience, aloha and consideration of our kuleana.

As adults, parents and even young adults, everyone needs to be an example to each other and help lead our community. The general election is Nov. 4, so take the time out to get your message out based on the information and your understanding of the issues that the candidates have put forward. Make you decision, vote and be counted.

On Wednesday the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce will be celebrate and honor Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s legacy with a new award, the Mea Ho‘omana‘o award, which replaces the chamber’s Aloha Spirit award. It represents Mayor Baptiste’s dream of reminding residents of the importance of respect, civility and aloha in their interactions. The award is the fulfillment of that dream.

Join us Wednesday to share the aloha, kuleana, mana‘o and dream of our island’s future.

• Randy Francisco is president of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at info@kauaichamber.org

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