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Members exit amid praise

After hammering out legislation for the past two years on a wide range of issues critical to the island’s future, the Kaua‘i County Council yesterday concluded its term in office with a six-page blitz of communications, proposed ordinances and executive session items.

But before the morning meeting was officially called to order at the Historic County Building, Council Chair Jay Furfaro, on behalf of his colleagues, recognized the four outgoing council members for their public service.

Council members JoAnn Yukimura, Mel Rapozo, Ron Kouchi and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho are departing the seven-member legislative body for different reasons.

Yukimura and Rapozo sacrificed their seats for a shot at mayor. They were unsuccessful in their bids against Mayor-elect Bernard Carvalho.

“JoAnn has always been motivated by her version of keep Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i,” Furfaro said.

Yukimura, who has served six years as mayor and seven terms on the council, was instrumental in passing legislation to protect the shoreline, regulate vacation rentals and curb residential sprawl on agricultural lands.

Furfaro praised Rapozo for his past six years of work on the council to improve county services and also for his involvement in lobbying for legislation at the state level through his roles on multiple boards.

Rapozo said he has learned much about the nature of government during his tenure on the council, particularly that it is a “collaborative effort” that takes time. He said he looks forward to returning to the council soon as one of the “nitpickers.”

Kouchi was edged out of the council race at the Nov. 4 general election.

“You’ve been an inspiration as an example of serving the public,” Furfaro said. “Kaua‘i is a better place because of your 20-plus years of service.”

“Learning is difficult and there are mistakes that you make as you grow up,” Kouchi said. “But to grow up in front of the whole community … my whole adult life has been a challenge.”

Although disappointed in the results of the last election, Kouchi said he would not trade the experience for anything. He noted the joy of witnessing his 18-year-old son cast his first ballot and be part of the campaign process.

“It is something I will treasure for the rest of my life,” he said.

Yukimura said Kouchi’s departure “really leaves a huge hole on this council” and thanked him for providing perspective when it was needed.

Iseri-Carvalho, who ran unopposed, will be the island’s first female county prosecutor.

Furfaro noted her four years of work on the council that resulted in greater funding accountability, expanded lifeguard services at Anahola and more affordable housing.

“I am most proud of those projects that will be here longer than I,” Iseri-Carvalho said.

She quoted Hawai‘i Sen. Daniel Inouye, saying volunteerism is the rent one pays for the privilege of living on this earth.

Even the so-called government nitpickers — including Barbara Elmore, Glenn Mickens, Bruce Pleas and Ken Taylor — praised the outgoing members.

“I will miss these four people on the council,” Elmore said. “It’s a sad day.”

Mickens said he hopes the freshmen are as diligent as they were.

“I hope the new shoes will be able to step up and get into gear and we can all move forward with aloha,” Taylor said.

Pleas noted the great communication with the current council and the education he has received from them.

The council’s makeup changed over the past year with the June 22 death of Mayor Bryan Baptiste.

Bill “Kaipo” Asing stepped down as council chair to temporarily serve as mayor until Dec. 1. Veteran Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro filled the empty council seat. Both were elected to serve another two-year term on the council along with incumbents Tim Bynum and Furfaro.

Since the council members took office in 2006, the legislative body has passed bills related to shoreline setbacks, transient vacation rentals and affordable housing in addition to a long list of ordinances and resolutions.

The next council — which will include newcomers Lani Kawahara, Dickie Chang and Derek Kawakami — will be sworn in Dec. 1 at the Mo‘ikeha Building. There will be an organizational meeting at 2 p.m., Monday, at Council Chambers. The council’s first regular meeting is 9 a.m., Dec. 10 at the Historic County Building.

The previous council left some unfinished business, including a mammoth real property tax reform bill, and major issues loom on the horizon, such as approving an integrated solid waste management plan.

For meeting agendas, visit www.kauai.gov.

∫ Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or neagle@kauaipubco.com

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