A Kapaa woman has filed nominations papers to become a candidate for state Senate of Kauai County.
A first-time candidate in politics, Kanoe Ahuna hopes to use her 17 years of experience in the fields of public and private health and education to serve the community.
“I just feel that it’s time for me to give back to a larger level, a greater scale with the nonprofits and the community groups,” Ahuna said. “I’m running because I’ve been working with the community for as long as I lived on Kauai — for 11-plus years now.”
Born on Oahu, Ahuna and her husband moved to Kauai to raise their children.
“I have family here. I have always had an interest and passion to be on this island,” she said.
Ahuna worked with the native Hawaiian health care system for a little over six years on Kauai and continues to work with schools to inspire more health-care students to move back to the islands.
“I helped with the strategic planning for Waimea High School under Principal Mahina,” she said. “I ran a Native Hawaiian health education after-school program with the Hawaiian charter schools and Chiefess Kamakahelei middle school.”
Ahuna said she would like to bridge the gap between the county and the state “to keep Kauai thriving and to keep our resources healthy.”
“Working closely with the county council as well as the mayor’s office through community programs as well as education around Kauai, I think it’s really important for the county and state to work closely in partnership,” she said. “I feel I can bring that at the state level.”
One of Ahuna’s initiatives is to lift the cap on the Transient Accommodations Tax in order to alleviate the congestion on Kauai’s highways.
“Although tourism is great and it’s the economy that helps us survive here, in order to keep that a value for us, we need to keep value within our own community,” she said. “Our priority should be us first because we live here and we’re the ones who want to be able to accept and encourage tourism and be able to greet them with that aloha.”
Another concern for Ahuna is increasing the budget of the island’s lifeguards.
Additionally, Ahuna would like to upgrade the sewage facilities on the island.
“There is some concern, too, about the sewage plant deteriorating,” she said. “It’s important to make sure that it’s not going into our ocean because that will create a lot of concern health wise as well as affect our tourism market.”
Ahuna said she is committed to being a strong and loyal advocate for Hawaii.
“A lot of my work also has to do with preventional cultural resources, including restoration protection of sacred sites and heiau,” she said. “Cultural work is important. We need to keep that presence. That is the value that keeps people here, and that’s the value and spirit of the people here.”