Returning home

LIHUE — Current Hawaii District 14 Rep. Derek Kawakami is no stranger to the Kauai County Council.

He sat on the council from 2008-2011. He’s also been part of the County of Kauai Charter Commission, Kauai Economic Development Board, Kauai Police Activities League, Lihue Business Association, and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.

The 38-year-old, fourth generation Kauai resident has been representing District 14 in the House of Representatives since 2011.

He graduated from Kauai High School and from Chaminade University of Honolulu with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2006, Kawakami became a credentialed cooperative director with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“My approach to leadership is honoring our past while building our future,” Kawakami writes on his website. “If we can maintain this focus, we’ll be able to move forward in a respectful, responsible and productive manner.”

Over the past five years in the Legislature, many of the successful bills that Kawakami introduced related to public safety, affordable housing, infrastructure and traffic.

Some of those bills relate to safe routes to school and marketing Hawaii higher education, establishing a graffiti pilot program at Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Hokulea Worldwide Voyage and universal wireless access.

He also introduced successful bills renaming the Kilauea Point Lighthouse in honor of Sen. Daniel Inouye, and requesting U.S. Congress to support a genetically modified food labeling bill in 2013.

In 2014, he targeted domestic violence by introducing a successful bill that made physical abuse in the presence of a minor under the age of 14 a class C felony.

In 2016, Kawakami was instrumental in securing $1.2 million in federal funds for work on four Anahola Hanahanapuni firing range dams and reservoirs, and more than $600,000 for work on Kuhio Highway.

He says if elected to Kauai County Council, his focus will remain the same — public safety, affordable housing, infrastructure and traffic relief.

“While I have decided to serve our community in a different capacity, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the fire that burns within me to continue serving the people of Kauai and Niihau to build a brighter future for our keiki and protect and honor our kupuna,” he said in announcing his intention to run for council.

The candidate said he’s learned valuable tools in the Legislature that he plans to use for the betterment of the Kauai community.

“Returning to the County Council allows me to work more closely with fellow Kauai residents and to affect positive changes on a local level,” Kawakami said.

He continued, “While Kauai is the most beautiful, close-knit place to raise a family, it is also a challenging place to make ends meet. I think many people are looking to government to provide some relief to their everyday lives, and I am ready to work to do so.”

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