Top county officials fatten Carvalho coffers

Locals and non-residents, political insiders and outsiders, worker unions and business owners have given money to the mayoral candidates seeking election Nov. 4 on Kaua‘i.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars pay for advertising, yard signs, brochures, banners, T-shirts, bumper stickers, headquarters and fundraisers, supplementing volunteer efforts and grassroots initiatives.

The most recent state Campaign Spending Commission disclosure reports, filed Oct. 10, reveal details about how much cash JoAnn Yukimura and Bernard Carvalho have raised and spent in their campaigns and where that money has come from.

“A candidate cannot run a large, highly visible campaign without money,” Yukimura said last week in a written response to questions sent to both candidates. “A candidate cannot rely on the news media to get the message out in a way that represents the candidate well, so a candidate must do advertising.”

Spending is equally important, she said, because “you want to get the biggest bang for your buck and you want to use your supporters’ money well. Like taxes, it is a matter or responsibility and trust.”

Carvalho shared similar thoughts on the weight of campaign contributions.

“Money is important and obviously useful but it is not the only asset that can drive a successful campaign,” he said. “Equally — or maybe even more important — is the human resource that can be leveraged to reach more people through a variety of activities such as house-to-house canvassing, manning headquarters, stuffing envelopes, phone banking, coordinating coffee hours and other events.

“That’s where the real impact is and our campaign has been blessed with an abundance of volunteers ready to put in long hours doing a variety of tasks,” he added.

Yukimura agreed.

“A headquarters is important so people have a place to come to,” she said. “It is amazing to me to see the people who walk through our doors wanting to help.”

From July 1 to Sept. 5, Carvalho raised $136,162.41 to Yukimura’s $52,868.39.

During the next reporting period, Yukimura raked in more than twice as much money as Carvalho but not nearly enough to offset the margin. From Sept. 6 to Sept. 20, she hauled in $25,962.97 to Carvalho’s $10,959.61.

This left Carvalho leading Yukimura by $41,372 in total campaign contributions received through Sept. 20, including his $30,000 loan. Yukimura has not taken out a loan for the campaign.

Despite the significant financial advantage, Carvalho spent less than Yukimura during the reporting periods. Through the Sept. 20 primary election, Yukimura’s total disbursements are $162,317.94 to Carvalho’s $115,710.68.

From July 1 to Sept. 5, Carvalho spent $89,185.05 to Yukimura’s $61,231.05. But from Sept. 6 to Sept. 20, Yukimura spent $32,453.16 to Carvalho’s $20,436.20.

These figures do not include “unpaid expenditures.” From Sept. 6 to Sept. 20, Yukimura’s unpaid expenditures — mostly for print advertising — total $41,694.17. Carvalho’s total is $2,684.67, also mostly for newspaper ads.

The Oct. 10 disclosure report shows Carvalho operating his campaign with a $3,113.72 surplus while Yukimura runs in the red $52,622.53.

From July 1 to Sept. 20, including unpaid expenditures, Yukimura spent $35,104.33 on print ads to Carvalho’s $19,922.29. For radio ads, she spent $29,663.82 to his $5,612.57.

Yukimura spent $10,937.43 in late August and early September on advertising with KONG Radio Group, by far the largest amount she spent on advertising in the period from July 1 to Sept. 5.

Carvalho spent $10,964.48 on print ads from July 1 to Sept. 5 and an additional $7,255.43 from Sept. 6 to Sept. 20.

Both candidates said people invest in the campaigns because they believe in them.

“Generally speaking, most campaigns have their share of large donors but the vast majority of our supporters make relatively small monetary contributions (less than $100),” Carvalho said. “These individuals contribute both time and money because they believe in our candidacy and trust that we will do what is good for the future of our island.”

Yukimura said the contributors to her campaign — “people from all walks of life, all professions, retired, young, old, businesses” — all share a desire for a better Kaua‘i.

“Contributors to our campaign believe in our message,” she said. “They believe in our approach. They agree with us about what would make Kaua‘i better, about how we can make Kaua‘i better. And they step up with contributions as an investment in making Kaua‘i better.”

Carvalho made a similar comment when asked who contributes to his campaign and why.

“Although campaigns need financial resources to off-set its major expense which is primarily media advertising, the real success of our campaign to date can be attributed to the extensive amount of grassroots volunteer efforts and numerous small individual monetary donations from folks who live here on Kaua‘i,” he said.        

Perhaps the most striking difference between the contributors to the two campaigns is the financial backing Carvalho has received from the top county officials of the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration. The mayoral race, to be decided by voters in 13 days, is for the remaining two years left on Baptiste’s term.

Carvalho is on a leave of absence from his post as director of the county Parks and Recreation Department while he runs for election. His campaign manager, county Office of Economic Development Director Beth Tokioka, is on his list of contributors who each donated $1,000 to his campaign in July.

Also on this list are: County Engineer Donald Fujimoto, Boards and Commissions Administrator John Isobe, County Attorney Matthew Pyun Jr. and Finance Director Wallace Rezentes Jr.

But his support from county employees does not stop there.

Hall Manager Edward Sarita contributed $520, Planning Commissioner Herman Texeira gave $220, Planning Director Ian Costa donated $150, Prosecutor Craig DeCosta gave $110 and Council Chair Jay Furfaro contributed $200 to Carvalho’s campaign for mayor.

Yukimura was mayor from 1988 to 1994 and is currently serving her 14th year on the Kaua‘i County Council. Her campaign manager is Walt Barnes, an electrical engineer who served as a founding member of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s board of directors.

Yukimura’s campaign contributors include former county Fire Chief Alejandro Lomosad who has donated $1,775 through Sept. 20.

Her other top contributors include Honolulu-based The Resort Group. Developer Jeffrey Stone has provided $1,500 and accountant Kendall Kim has donated $1,000.

Carvalho has received a fair share from developers too, including: Tracy Nagata, $200; Alexander and Baldwin, $1,000; and Kauai Development Managing Partner Kevin Showe, $2,000.

But the bulk of the contributors, as the candidates have said and the spending reports reflect, are individual residents and businesses.

“Campaign finances are essential in reaching out to the voters and getting the word out about my positions, vision and leadership style — who I am and what I believe in,” Yukimura said. “I feel such gratitude for the contributions that have been coming in. Some of them are $5 and $10. Some are in the $1,000s. It is very humbling to experience such generosity and shared commitment.”

The two candidates will square off in a debate hosted by the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow at JJ’s Broiler in Nawiliwili.

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