LIHUE — Kanoe Ahuna says that more and more people are coming to Kauai, and if elected Hawaii state senator for District 8 serving Kauai and Ni‘ihau, her goal is to ensure that residents and travelers alike continue to enjoy the Garden Isle.
“I love Kauai, our people, and our ‘Aina,” she said. “I want what is best for us.”
Her list of priorities includes alleviating traffic congestion on state highways, lifting the cap on state Transient Accommodations Taxes to shift the burden away from Kauai residents, and creating new jobs.
She also wants to expand affordable and elderly housing, and wants to increase the surcharge on car rentals to maintain and develop tourism infrastructure while increasing funds available for state parks and historic preservation.
“There are two reasons why preserving Kauai’s cultural and natural resources are so important,” Ahuna said. “Our cultural and natural resources are precious assets that define our people, land, and heritage. We all want to be responsible stewards of these assets so they can be preserved and maintained in perpetuity.”
The second reason to preserve Kauai’s cultural and natural resources is because people from all over the world visit Kauai specifically because of its unique cultural and resources, she said.
“Last year, Kauai attracted more than 1.1 million visitors, and the number increases each year,” Ahuna said. “This demands that we work together, responsibly, and in partnership to create a win-win situation that will preserve our resources, and offer tourists a great experience that is uniquely Kauai.”
A side benefit is providing support for the numerous small businesses that rely on tourism to provide for their families.
Ahuna, 43, serves as the project coordinator for Kauai Nua Kuapapa, a cultural project enacted by the Mayor’s Office that focuses on bringing awareness to Kauai’s rich historical land division system, or moku, and helps to educate the general public.
As the project coordinator, she works with the county’s staff and a number of local organizations and residents. She also serves as a volunteer member-daughter of the Daughters of Hawaii, an organization that was founded in 1903.
“I’m firmly committed to its mission of perpetuating the memory and spirit of Old Hawaii and historic facts,” she said. “I will continue to support its efforts to bring education of Hawaiian history to the public.”
Ahuna’s roots to Kauai date back five generations to the Apana ‘ohana, a cattle ranching family that settled in Waimea from Maui, giving her the commitment for hard work to ensure that Kauai receives its fair share of state resources.
“I’m known for being a bridge-builder, hands-on, working together with people from all types of backgrounds, and getting things done,” Ahuna said. “I believe in transparency and in giving the public an opportunity to be part of the solution. I believe that is what is missing, and needed now at the state Senate.”
Ahuna said she will bring her work ethic and leadership to work in partnership with all members of the Kauai County Council to move forward legislation that benefits Kauai.
“I would also give Kauai a greater voice at the state Legislature by supporting state funding for public amenities, highways, traffic management, and waste management. Maintaining a strong infrastructure benefits both our residents and our tourism industry,” she said.
Kanoe, the wife of Office of Hawaiian Affairs commissioner Dan Ahuna, and mother of two sons, said public service has long been her calling, serving for more than 17 years in government, business, education, health care, and job creation.
“I feel humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to earn the trust of our voters,” Ahuna said.