LIHUE — With the election only a few days away, candidates running for local office say they are honored for the support they’ve been given and thankful for the chance to represent the people of Kauai.
“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support I have gotten throughout the election process,” said candidate Sandi Combs. “From the minute I announced my candidacy to our final sign waving, people have stepped up — from my old friends who gave of their time and resources to my new friends that I’ve made throughout this journey.”
Combs is the Republican candidate for District 14, which covers Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapaa and Wailua Houselots.
She said she wins, no matter what the results say.
“I have learned throughout my campaign and I was able to show my students at Kapaa that their voice matters, that they can and do make a difference,” she said.
Combs is running against Nadine Nakamura, former Kauai County manager.
“I’m thankful to everyone who voted in the primary election and humbly ask for your vote in the upcoming general election,” Nakamura said. “I look forward to the opportunity to serve State House District 14 and address the needs in this community.”
Dee Morikawa, the Democrat incumbent running for District 16, said she won’t take anything for granted until the votes are counted.
“This has been another long election cycle for me. I have been opposed in every election since 2010, and am looking forward to Election Day,” she said. “If I’m fortunate to gain approval from the voters to represent them for another two-year term, I will immediately continue a lot of unfinished business for the next legislative session.”
Victoria Franks is running against Morikawa as a Republican. She feels confident going into the election, knowing people heard her message.
“People are seeing that I am involved in the community in many ways,” she said.
Franks’ efforts include working with the Mayor’s Homeless Solutions Summit, Life Choices Kauai Coalition, which works in the areas of drug awareness, prevention of underage drinking and suicide.
“We worked hard to bring another agency to Kauai to work to get the homeless into housing — Family Life Center. Since we opened about nine months ago, we’ve place over a dozen families into permanent housing,” she said.
If re-elected to a second term, Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney, said he will continue to build an office of which Kauai will be proud.
“Four years ago, after a very long and arduous campaign, our administration inherited an office that needed rebuilding,” he said. “We delivered on our promises to make the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney an efficient and effective law office.”
But there is more work to be done, Kollar said.
“I feel humbled and fortunate to be able to serve this community and to have been able to do so for the past 10 years. It’s a special place and it is a place worth protecting,” he said.
Challenger Lisa Arin said she is proud of the momentum her campaign has made.
“We have gone door to door in some of our neighborhoods, waved to folks in the mornings on their way to work and to take their kids to school, and talked to anyone who wanted to learn more about the issues in this prosecutor’s race,” she said.
The support has been overwhelming, Arin said.
“It is hard to put into words how energizing and inspiring it is when people enthusiastically shaka, wave, blow kisses, and children roll down their windows and yell out ‘Yay Auntie Lisa’ to me,” she said.
In the County Council race, there was a range of emotions heading into Tuesday.
Incumbent Gary Hooser said he is feeling a deep sense of gratitude for his support.
“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve our community on the Kauai County Council and humbled by the number of people who have stepped forward and have generously given so much of themselves in support of my reelection,” he said. “Many have stood in the hot sun, canvassed door to door and spent countless hours on the phone and computer helping to spread our positive message of standing strong together to protect, preserve and improve our island home.”
Council candidate Richard Fukushima is also encouraged by his supporters.
“With the help of prayers and words of encouragement, I have been strengthened and convicted that I should be on the Kauai County Council seat,” he said. “After much thought and meeting with the people around the island, it has given me hope and the insight of what the people of Kauai wants.”
Incumbent Ross Kagawa feels confident about his prospects.
“I’m feeling great about the upcoming election, it has been a long wait,” said Kagawa. “I am hopeful that the trend set in the primary election for County Council will hold true for the general.”
Incumbent JoAnn Yukimura believes this election will be a close one.
“I hope everyone votes. I hope voters will look closely at candidate qualifications, commitment and actual results,” she said. “If they do, I think I have a good chance of being re-elected.”
Norma Doctor Sparks, a first-time candidate in the county council race, said she’s looking forward to the election.
“I’m very grateful for the support and encouragement from my husband, Steve, our family, and supporters,” she said. “Thank you for your support and encouragement from a first-time candidate.”
Matt Bernabe is feeling realistic about his chances to win a seat.
“I am a candidate that refused to ‘fake it, till I made it’ in regards to my personality toward politics. While I think the council needs at least one member like myself, I understand how it can turn voters off,” he said.
As the campaign continued, Bernabe said people saw him in a different light.
“Many of my supporters, including my die-hards, have actually expressed to me, it was my message that let them get over my blunt and aggressive mannerisms,” he said.
Arthur Brun, who ran for a council seat in 2014, said he’s encouraged by the support he’s been given.
“We’ve done our best to get out there and talk to residents and hear what’s on their mind. I know I can bring the voice of the working people of Kauai to the table,” he said.
Mason Chock, who is seeking re-election to the council, said he’s feeling relieved, thankful and humbled. Whether or not he’s elected, Chock said his dedication to the Garden Isle will not falter.
“I will continue to serve our people and our environment for a bright and healthy future,” he said. “If Ke Akua honors me with the opportunity to serve on the County Council once again, I will work tirelessly and collaboratively for the people of Kauai.”
Incumbent KipuKai Kuali’i is hoping to serve another term but can’t help but feel a little anxious.
“I’ve experienced both the lows and highs of election nights in the past. It truly means everything to me to be able to continue serving our people and our islands,” he said.
But he hopes the people of Kauai know they can count on him to fight for them. “Especially when it comes to the budget and taxes,” he said.
First-time council candidate Juno-Ann Apalla is feeling mixed emotions at the end of the campaign season.
“I’m feeling exhausted, worn out and tired, as all I’ve done this year is to explore the Kauai political landscape, hoping to once more restore my trust and faith in the political process,” she said. “Alongside the exhaustion of running for office, I feel extremely hopeful, joyous and excited for the future.”
Apalla said the major takeaways of her campaign is to always following her gut, be fair and be thankful.
“These lessons lead me to learn the value of consistency, determination and the spirit of never giving up. Regardless of the outcome, we have already won. Each and everyone of us,” she said.
For Fukushima, now is the time for Kauai residents to have a say in the island’s future.
“I pray that your selection have been made through careful thought of who you are voting for and not let it be a popularity vote, but a vote of conviction,” he said.
It’s a sentiment Yukimura echoes.
“Vote carefully because our choices will affect our quality of life, our families and our economy,” she said. “Let’s all keep Kauai, Kauai, even as we grow and change.”