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KipuKai Kuali’i says he’ll run for County Council seat in 2018

LIHUE — KipuKai Kuali’i said he tried to hold it together while addressing the public at the last Kauai County Council meeting.

“At our recent meeting, I got choked up as I was giving my remarks of aloha and mahalo, knowing how much I would miss my council services ohana,” he said.

Kuali’i, who served as a councilmember from 2011 to 2016, ran for another term on the Kauai County Council in this year’s election but came in in eighth in the race for seven council seats.

He received 10,450 votes and came in just behind Mason Chock, who received 10,947.

During his time on the council, Kualii is proud of four measures he introduced and were passed:

w Resolution No. 2015-44, which urged Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation to address excessive campaign spending by passing amendments that clarified that corporations are not people with constitutional rights, in particular electoral rights, and that unlimited campaign spending is not free speech.

  • Resolution No. 2015-57, which supported economic justice for Hawaii’s working families: living wage, paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, and right to organize.
  • Resolution No. 2016-20, which expressed the support of the Council of the County of Kauai for the Federal Equality Act, and urging the United States Congress to ensure its swift passage.
  • Resolution No. 2016-36, which expressed the support of the Council of the County of Kauai for the proposed Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center.

For the council as a whole, Kuali’i said he’s proud that under Mel Rapozo, council chair, meetings have run more efficiently and the council initiated performance audits for county operations.

Working for the community has been a joy, Kuali’i said.

“I’ve been here before, and the job is too important to me. So I will keep at it; I will continue to support the community in any way I can, and I will be back,” said Kuali’i, who plans to run for council in 2018,

His resume includes working as a union leader while working in the finance department at the city of West Hollywood, Calif. He also worked for two years at the Civil Rights Department at the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrialized Organizations in Washington, D.C.

After returning to Kauai 15 years ago, Kuali’i was a leader with the United Public Workers and helped lead volunteer efforts with several county and state campaigns.

He first ran for a council seat in 2008 and finished ninth.

“All of our campaigns have basically been small and grassroots; fueled primarily by the volunteerism and support of family and close friends,” he said.

Kuali’i, 54, was born and raised in Puhi and lives in Anahola. He said he felt compelled to a life dedicated to community service from a young age.

“Perhaps, because of my Catholic upbringing, having attended Immaculate Conception School, having lived in a union household in old Puhi Camp and having attended The Kamehameha Schools where the legacy of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop was instilled in me; a legacy of service to community,” he said.

For Kuali’i, the most rewarding part about being a councilmember was having the opportunity to build strong relationships.

“Also, the sense of accomplishment you feel when you’re able to provide constituents with the information they need or when you’re able to help resolve a problem,” he said.

Kuali’i’s hope for Kauai includes no increase in taxes and the protection of ag land.

“For our people, I hope that our council, mayor and administration does everything they can to more efficiently deliver core services and address challenges without raising taxes and fees,” he said. “For our islands, I hope that our council, mayor and administration does everything they can to protect our agricultural lands, natural resources and public access, as well as preserve our special places, cultural sites and open space.”

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