LIHUE — Professional surfer, environmental activist, mixed martial arts fighter and North Shore native Dustin Barca filed Monday to run for Kauai County mayor in the 2014 election.
While this is the Kilauea resident’s first bid at political office, Barca said he has been involved in local politics for much of his young adult life. Driven by a strong sense of kuleana (responsibility and privilege) to Kauai and its people, he sees local government as a way to deepen his service.
“I was so lucky to grow up on Kauai, learning from my elders about our sacred and unique aina,” the 32-year-old father of three children said in a press release. “We can be a blueprint for the rest of the islands and the world by restoring and protecting our heiau, fishponds, iwi kupuna, our ahupuaa and agricultural lands. A way for our people and especially the next generations is to have a connection with our island, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually by using these areas for educational purposes and managing tourism so that we will become the ultimate place for locals and visitors.”
Barca said he believes Kauai can be a farming epicenter where food production is a priority. He aims to replace the island’s reliance on importing food by seeing more of the food on island produced locally.
“It’s all about the future generations and our vision for Kauai is for them,” he said.
While Barca may be best known for his activism related to environmental justice and the impacts of the agrochemical industry on Kauai, he is also committed to democratic participation, local agricultural food production, access to healthy foods, cultural revival, protecting Kauai’s most vital water resources, sustainable energy and transportation, waste reduction, and finding better solutions to address crystal meth, the press release stated.
“We need innovative ideas, rooted in our historical and cultural knowledge, to ensure that our economy is delivering a high quality of life and not compromising the things we value,” Barca said. “We need to bring tourism and development into alignment with the values and priorities of residents, ensuring that tourism serves Kauai instead of Kauai serving tourism.”
As part of his campaign, Barca paddled from Kee to Polihale and ran around the island from Polihale to Kee Thursday through Saturday “to pay tribute to some of our most historically significant areas, talk story with community members and find out more about their concerns and visions for Kauai,” a campaign statement read.
Mayoral incumbent Bernard Carvalho Jr., Hanapepe resident Debralynn “Mizdebz” DeSilva Carveiro and Kapaa resident Curtis Lake are also running for mayor.