Kawakami, Brun elected to council

LIHUE — With all 16 precincts reporting, Derek Kawakami and Arthur Brun are the new faces of the Kauai County Council.

Derek Kawakami received the most votes, 15,990, or 8.4 percent, in Tuesday’s general election.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the candidates for the Kauai County Council for being part of the democratic process, and being willing to step out of their comfort zones with the aim of making Kauai a better place to be in,” Kawakami said.

As the results came out, Kawakami took a moment to thank the people for their support.

“I’m surrounded by such wonderful people. They motivate me to get up in the morning and work to make this a special place,” he said.

Brun, who ran for council in 2014 and lost the seventh seat by 137 votes, received 11,003 or 5.8 percent amount of votes.

“We’re really happy with the results,” he said.

Amidst the celebrations, Brun took a moment to remember his mother, who died three weeks ago.

“Mom, this is for you. We did it,” he said.

Incumbents who were reelected were Arryl Kaneshiro, Mel Rapozo, Ross Kagawa, JoAnn Yukimura and Mason Chock.

Incumbent falling just short were KipuKai Kuali’i and Gary Hooser.

The results are as follows:

  • Derek Kawakami: 15,990 or 8.4 percent
  • Arthur Brun: 11,003 or 5.8 percent
  • Arryl Kaneshiro: 12,779 or 6.7 percent
  • Mel Rapozo: 12,631 or 6.6 percent
  • Ross Kagawa: 12,183 or 6.4 percent
  • JoAnn Yukimura: 11,072 or 5.8 percent
  • Mason Chock: 10,947 or 5.7 percent
  • KipuKai Kuali’i: 10,450 or 5.5 percent
  • Gary Hooser: 10,408 or 5.5 percent
  • Juno-Ann Apalla: 7,889 or 4.1 percent
  • Norma Doctor Sparks: 6,911, 3.6 percent
  • Matt Bernabe: 4,351, 2.3 percent
  • Richard Fukushima: 4,178, 2.2 percent

Kuali’i said he’s hopeful for a positive result.

“I was fifth in the primaries, and we’re hoping for more or less of the same,” he said.

Even if he came in eighth, he said it’d be a strong eighth.

“The feedback I’ve been given is encouraging,” he said.

But he said he can’t help but feel a little anxious.

“This job is too important for me to give up,” he said.

Arryl Kaneshiro said he’s happy with his results.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s pretty comfortable,” he said.

Kaneshiro said he appreciates every candidate who decided to run for county council.

“It’s not easy. Anyone who has the courage to run opens themselves up to criticism, so I give a lot of credit to the people who stepped up,” he said.

Even though he didn’t win a seat, Matt Bernabe believes he did, simply by getting out in the community.

“I got my daughters involved in the process,” he said. I’m proud and honored I have at least some supporters.”

Bernabe ran on a platform that included making the county more efficient and holding department heads more accountable.

He is a fixture at the council meetings, said he’s dedication to public service hasn’t faltered.

“I started going to the meetings to learn about the process, and that doesn’t end just because I lost one election,” he said.

Running for council has been a surreal experience.

“I have a lot of diehards. Even when I doubted myself, they believed in me.”

Apalla, the 28-year-old who was running to represent the millennial generation, said she’s happy her campaign made strides from the primaries.

“It’s awesome we gained more votes,” she said. “It’s a very hopeful sign, and we still have more printouts to wait for.”

Regardless of the outcome, Apalla said she’s grateful for the journey.

“It’s been very helpful in my understanding of government discourse and how to bring people together,” she said.

Apalla said she’d consider running again.

“There’s always another time,” she said.


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