Seeking unity behind our elected leaders

Congratulations are in order today following Tuesday’s general election.

To Bernard Carvalho Jr. for being re-elected our mayor. 

To current councilmembers Mel Rapozo, Ross Kagawa, JoAnn Yukimura, Mason Chock and Gary Hooser for being voted into office and to challengers Arryl Kaneshiro and KipuKai Kualii for joining them.

And to state Reps. Derek Kawakami, James Tokioka and Dee Morikawa for their wins.

Well done, also, to those who ran for office but fell short. That list includes Dustin Barca, Jay Furfaro, Arthur Brun, Darryl Perry, Felicia Cowden, Tim Bynum, Billy DeCosta, Tiana Laranio, Steve Yoder, Victoria Franks and Jonathan Hoomanawanui. It takes courage to seek public office. It opens one up to public scrutiny and commentary because they are willing to try to improve their government and make their community a better place. We thank you.

So, what do these results mean?

Seems clear, especially when you consider that there was a 57.4 percent voter turnout on Tuesday. 

Mayor Carvalho, with 61 percent of the vote, has the support of the people who like what he is doing and the direction he is leading Kauai. His “Action with Aloha” campaign hit home with voters who put him back in office four more years. Remember the talk of recall and voting the mayor out of office when he vetoed Bill 2491? Nothing close to voting this man out of office came about on Tuesday. The mayor’s Holo Holo 2020 vision connected with the community he represents. No one can argue the mayor doesn’t get out and about. He’s pretty much everywhere, for every groundbreaking ceremony, every unveiling, every dinner, every guest speaker and every blessing. That he’s there carries weight with people who feel honored by his presence. 

Barca, a political novice, faced an uphill fight trying to unseat a popular mayor. Yet, he received 34 percent of the vote, a solid showing that indicates there is a contingent on Kauai that wants to see new leadership in our government.

On the County Council, with five incumbents sent back into office, it seems again, the people support the overall direction and actions of the council. Despite the uproar over rising taxes, residents kept most of the current council team intact. Two incumbents were ousted. Furfaro, a brilliant man if you ever get a chance to listen to him, likely fell victim to someone who tried to find the middle ground and didn’t have a strong following or strong opposition. Bynum, another sharp man dedicated to this community, was done in by his battle with the county that led to a legal victory and financial settlement that likely cost him at the polls. 

As for the our state representatives, Kawakami, Tokioka and Morikawa, the margin of their victories, nearly 70 percent voter support, left no doubt the people like what they are doing and want them to continue on the same path.

We applaud our future leaders for their success on Tuesday. You worked hard for the opportunity to guide this island of nearly 70,000 people. Now, there is more work to do. Kauai still needs healing. There is tension here. It’s not all aloha and smiles. There is growing gap between those with money and those without. There is division between longtime residents and new arrivals, between pro-tourism and anti-tourism, between pro-development and anti-growth, between those who want better roads and those who want fewer people.

Kauai needs leaders who can create unity, who can set a common course, find common ground. The good news is, the people of Kauai, the voters, put such leaders in place. Lead on.

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