LIHUE — Five incumbents, one returning councilmember and one new face to the Kauai County Council were inaugurated Thursday.
Mel Rapozo, Ross Kagawa, Arthur Brun, Mason Chock, Arryl Kaneshiro, Derek Kawakami and JoAnn Yukimura took the oath of office during a ceremony at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall in front of about 100 people.
“It’s always great to be with family, friends and the hometown crowd,” Kawakami said. “I’m blessed to be surrounded by so much love.”
Kawakami, who served as state representative for District 14 from 2011 to this year, gave up his seat to run for County Council.
“Five years doesn’t seem like a long time, but it is when you have children,” he said.
Kawakami, who served on the council from 2008 to 2011, wishes his mom lived to see him be re-elected, he said the “silver lining” of her death was that it made him return to Kauai.
“That’s really what did it,” he said.
Several members of Brun’s family, including his wife, children, granddaughter, aunts and uncles attended the inauguration, but there was one person missing, he said.
“I wish my mom was here, but she’s here in spirit, and I know she’s proud,” he said.
During the first meeting of the term, the council unanimously elected Rapozo chair and Kagawa vice chair.
“We’ve got some fiscal issues and other issues we have to address,” Rapozo said. “We’ve got to look at some property tax reform. We have to look at other sources of revenue. We’ve got some issues with infrastructure and our solid waste facilities.”
Other priorities include public health and safety, supporting the Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center, homelessness, roads, traffic congestion and parks, Rapozo said.
“We cannot continue to just keep talking about these things. We have to take action and prioritize our projects. And if we can’t accomplish our goals, we have to let the public know why,” he said.
He challenged the county to build 500 affordable housing units a year.
“It’s an aggressive goal, I agree. But if we don’t try, we won’t get there,” he said.
Justin Kollar was sworn in as the prosecuting attorney.
“Today, I’m filled with a great sense of responsibility, humility and gratitude,” he said. “Four years ago, my team and I took on the challenge of building a Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that was accountable, responsible, effective and efficient. Now we make our re-commitment to that challenge.”