Get to know the council candidates, and vote

Vote.

That’s it. That’s our advice come Tuesday. Vote. If you haven’t registered, then hustle over to the Lihue Neighborhood Center for early voting. There, you can register and vote the same day through Saturday.

We won’t give you a speech about how each vote counts and how it’s your civic duty to vote, but we will urge you to vote simply because we want to see people involved in electing their county leaders. We would love to see a strong turnout. We also encourage you to do a little research on the 13 candidates for county council and decide who should get your vote. Several key positions are being contested, including county council, county prosecutor, and representatives, as well as several charter amendments.

Let’s take a look at who is running for council, starting with all of the incumbents. You have KipuKai Kuali‘i, Gary Hooser, JoAnn Yukimura, Ross Kagawa, Arryl Kaneshiro, Mel Rapozo and Mason Chock. Each of these candidates has strengths and weaknesses. They have experience and wisdom that has benefited the county in many ways. If you like the direction of Kauai, believe its government is taking the right steps and doing well, and are confident councilmembers have done their job to the best of their abilities with the people of Kauai in mind, incumbents might get your vote.

But there are also sharp and determined challengers to consider. They include former state representative Derek Kawakami, who left his post at the Legislature to seek a council seat, Arthur Brun, Matt Bernabe, Richard Fukushima, Norma Doctor Sparks, and Juno-Ann Apalla. They bring talents, experience and ideas and viewpoints to the table that would help the county’s government effectively serve the people. If you’re not happy with the way Kauai’s government operates, if you think the taxes are too high, the budget should shrink instead of grow, would prefer to see a new direction, a new emphasis, if you just believe the challengers have what you like, then perhaps they get your vote.

Just know that each councilmember makes a difference in what happens on Kauai. Each plays a key role. Each influences decisions that are made regarding key matters such as taxes, traffic, feral cats, transportation, environment and economy. Some folks are under the impression it doesn’t matter who is on the council, things will stay the same.

But it does matter and your vote will help determine who serves on the council for the next two years. Your vote will help determine the future of this island.

Other key races to be aware of include county prosecutor, where incumbent Justin Kollar is being challenged by Lisa Arin. We think Kollar has served the county well, but Arin’s also brings talents to the table.

In the representative race for District 16, incumbent Democrat Dee Morikawa is being challenged by Republican Victoria Franks. Morikawa is well-known, popular and should win easily and has experience and knowledge that has benefited Kauai’s residents, but Franks is a good candidate.

District 14 sees Democrat Nadine Nakamura and Sandi Combs vying for the seat left by Kawakami. Nakamura, a former county manager, should win handily, but Combs, in candidate forums, more than held her own.

In case you were wondering, The Garden Island will not be officially endorsing candidates. We see our role as one to provide information about the candidates so you, the voter, can decide who will best represent you. We don’t see our role as one to tell you who to vote for. Kauai’s residents are smart and sharp enough to know who does their job well and who has the best interests of the island at heart.

We also want to thank each candidate seeking office. Whether an incumbent or a challenger, it takes a terrific amount of time, effort, courage and commitment to run for public office. Those who do so deserve our appreciation for being willing to step up, to put their names on the line, because they want to represent the people of Kauai.

The least we can do is get to know what we can about them, decide who will serve Kauai best, and vote accordingly.

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