LIHUE — There aren’t many jobs that Sandi Kato-Klutke hasn’t done.
In the 34 years since the Anahola native returned to Kauai from Oregon, she has worked for at least half a dozen hotels, served on just as many community boards, and held other positions at Hawaiian Airlines and Wilcox Memorial Hospital — to name a few.
“It made me well rounded, let me tell you,” Kato-Klutke said with a laugh.
But one of her most memorable jobs, the 71-year-old Kapahi resident said, was being a single mother to her two sons and a daughter.
“I know what it’s like to have to worry about what I’m going to feed them tomorrow,” Kato-Klutke said. “I know what it’s like to not have enough money, so you either pay your electric bill or you pay your water bill or you pay your rent. I know what it feels like to be there because I have been there. It’s not easy.”
Though she has always like politics and served on the county’s Planning Commission under two mayors, Kato-Klutke said she always put her job first.
But now that she is retired, Kato-Klutke said she is running in this year’s Kauai County Council race to make a difference by sharing her knowledge and business experience.
“I wanted to be able to have a say and look at the various issues that are in front of us and to help the people of Kauai just to have a better life,” Kato-Klutke said. “If we’re stuck on one issue and it takes millions of dollars and it goes on and on, we need to remember that we need to build sidewalks, put bus shelters in, have more housing, have more public transportation, and make it easier for people to live on this island.”
Kato-Klutke serves on the board of directors for Kauai Medical Clinic and Agribusiness Development Corporation. She is also a member of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, and Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce.
The county, Kato-Klutke said, lacks the ability to attract new farmers who help improve the island’s economic base.
“We need to start growing so that the things that you and I want to eat can be on the our shelves in the market or at the farmers’ market,” Kato-Klutke said.
Kato-Klutke said she also wants to bolster the county’s renewable energy efforts and resolve ongoing landfill siting issues.
To avoid raising county taxes and fees that ultimately have a trickle down effect to island residents, such as real property tax rates, Kato-Klutke said the county needs to find other ways to increase revenue.
“The reason why property taxes go up and other taxes go up is because we need to balance the budget, so let’s really look at it and ask, is all that they ask us for really necessary to run their government or can there be cuts?” Kato-Klutke said. “Nobody wants cuts because that means people will lose their jobs, but there must be other ways to streamline our operations so that it’s more cost efficient.”
Darin Moriki, can be reached at 245-0428 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.