LIHUE — Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura wants to make life better for the citizens of Kauai.
“My goal is to honor the priceless legacy of land, culture, hard work and sacrifice from our parents, grandparents and ancestors by preparing the way for future generations,” she said.
Yukimura, who filed candidacy papers for re-election to the Kauai County Council on May 26, has several initiatives she wants to see come to fruition.
Her platform includes: affordable housing; an expanded bus system; walkable and bikeable roads; an improved highway system; better parks; a strong economy and a drug-free community.
“I will continue to work to make life better on Kauai,” she said.
Yukimura brings with her 26 years of experience in the political arena, both as a council member and mayor.
If elected to serve another term, she hopes to use her experience to overcome of Kauai’s “most complex and pressing issues.”
“It is exciting to have young energy and new perspectives in the race this year,” she said. “(But) it’s equally important to have leaders with an in-depth understanding of the issues, vision, the willingness to ask the hard questions and the courage to take the sometimes difficult stands for the common good.”
Yukimura was a strong advocate of raising the General Excise Tax this year.
If passed, Kauai residents would have seen an quarter percent increase in taxes. County administration proposed the GET increase as way to pay for $100 million in backlogged road repairs.
The council voted 4-3 against the tax on May 19. But Yukimura believes it was only option left to solving the island’s infrastructure issues, and that the community at large would be willing to sacrifice 25 cents if it helped improve the island.
Raising taxes is a balancing act, and the revenue generated shouldn’t go into one coffer, she said.
In a perfect world, Yukimura said, the GET, if passed, could have gone specifically toward expanding the bus system. An increase in fuel and vehicle weight tax can generate enough money to repair roads, she added.
“While Bill 2610 appears to be dead, as long as our roads continue to deteriorate and bus expansion is deferred, the issue and problems won’t go away,” she said.
During her political career, Yukimura successfully stopped high rises and other developments from building on Kauai and established the Kauai Bus System, Sunshine markets and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.
She also worked closely with the Housing Agency to ensure that affordable housing projects in Princeville and Poipu will never be sold on the open market.
Yukimura, whose family has lived on Kauai for generations, said she didn’t realize what she had on Kauai until she left for college.
“I didn’t know what a privilege it was to live on Kauai until I went to college and law school, and saw how people elsewhere lived and worked,” she said. “I earned a law degree and came home because I wanted the children of Kauai to be able to sit on the beach at Polihale, as I had, and see only sky, sea and cliffs.”