Juno-Ann Apalla is running for Kauai County Council because she wants to be an example for the younger generation.
“I think it’s much more of an encouragement for the millennial generation to step up and speak if they can relate to someone who is sitting in office for them,” she said. “What I bring to the table is essentially who I am and the people I can represent. I’m Juno, I’m female and I immigrated here from the Philippines. I’m young and I aspire to stay here on Kauai because I love it so much.”
If elected, the 28-year-old plans to work to bridge the gap between the inequities she sees on the island.
“It has to begin with recognizing what the inequities are. Sometimes, we forget there’s a different story toward someone’s advantage compared to other people’s advantages,” she said.
On Kauai, Apalla has identified inequities in the generational gap in leadership and community feedback.
“It’s important for me to do that because it systemically affects housing, economic development, education, health and other issues,” she said.
“It’s breaking some of the recent norms on Kauai of how old you have to be to run for County Council and what qualifies you for County Council. If you look at the actual qualifications, you just have to be a registered voter and a participant in the county for two years. You don’t need a PHD, you don’t need to have a dissertation; you just need to have an extreme passion for your community and the whereabouts to know when you don’t know something and get the right answers.”
The Kauai High School graduate said that she committed to running for County Council in 2015.
If elected, she plans to address homelessness and affordable housing.
“Many of us who come home and really want to stay on Kauai to make a life for ourselves find ourselves living with three or four other people to make the rent. Or we’re living with our parents,” she said.
Apalla said she’s encouraged by measures already taken by the council to address those issues. If elected, she will work to make sure those measures are taken.
She also hopes to improve communication between the government and the public.
“There has to be an active feedback system. So I’m working toward technology to bridge that gap,” she said.
A project she is looking to receive funding for is a civic engagement website and software application that helps disseminate information to the public. It will also allow residents to give their feedback directly to the council.
“The feedback I want to receive and base my decision on is based on actual feedback from people, rather than what someone in my family said,” she said.
Apalla, who received a media arts degree from Pacific University in Oregon, moved back to Kauai in 2013. She worked as a banker for American Savings Bank and helped to open Central Pacific Bank in Kapaa. She also served as director for the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce and the treasurer-elect for the Zonta Club of Kauai.
She hopes to encourage integrity in government.
“It’s the state of being whole and undivided,” she said. “When I came home, I came back to a very divided Kauai, over the GMO debate. I didn’t like it; we cannot be divided. Pointing the fingers at people in the past isn’t going to solve the problem,” she said. “It’s about what do we have now that we can work with and how can we move forward with it.”