KAPAA — Sandi Combs said she wants to represent District 14 because it’s time for her to lead by example.
“I always say someone should do something,” she said. “My students say I’m someone, so it’s time for me to walk the talk.”
Combs, a psychology, economics, Hawaiian history and participation democracy teacher at Kapaa High School, filed nomination papers for State Representative District 14 for the 2016 elections on April 11, according to a release from Kauai Office of Council Services.
She filed as a Republican, the release said.
State Rep. Derek Kawakami (D) is the District 14 representative, which covers Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapaa and Wailua Houselots.
While Combs’ candidacy has only been official for a few days, her students have known for a while, she said.
“It’s a great teaching tool,” she said. “My students get to watch and see what the process is like. But it gets dicey because you can’t politic in school — so I focus on the process.”
While this is the first time Combs is seeking office, she has experience campaigning.
“I campaigned for Jimmy Carter in 1976 with my high school teacher; we went knocking on people’s doors,” she said.
The seven-year Kauai resident said she is concerned about the same issues that concern her neighbors.
“I’m worried about traffic and infrastructure, and the drug problem is paramount,” she said.
The 56-year-old also said she is a supporter of quality education and veteran’s affairs.
“We need to have the best public schools in Hawaii,” she said. “Our public school system should be on par with the private schools, and we can do that. It’s time to step up and make changes so being in the policy part of education is important.”
Combs’ son, Micah, is her inspiration for supporting veteran services.
Micah died in August at 26 years old as a result of a heart attack. The heart attack was caused by an enlarged heart, which was a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
He joined 173rd Airborne right after high school and served in the Middle East.
“Veterans step up for us, so they need us to step up and fulfill their contracts,” she said.
Combs believes Kauai is the only place she would have been able to handle her son’s death.
“It’s a spiritual and healing place,” she said.
Combs, who describes herself as a “lifelong learner” and “eclectic reader,” enjoys riding her motorcycle, diving and paddling.
“I’m outside as much as I can,” she said.
As her campaign moves forward, Combs said she is looking forward to educating people about the process.
“There’s a disconnect, and I’m excited to encourage people to participate in government. If not, it’s in the hands of the elite,” she said.