Mayor candidates state cases

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Kauai Board of Realtors welcomes their new president, Ed MacDowell.

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Small business owner, Michelle Bagano of It’s A Shore Thing Kauai, helps Realtor Tierney Fritz at the Kauai Board of Realtors’ annual expo.

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Kauai’s three mayoral candidates, Mel Rapozo, Lenny Rapozo and Derek Kawakami, answer questions at Kauai Board of Realtors’ annual trade show.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Mayoral candidates Mel Rapozo, Lenny Rapozo and Derek Kawakami check out a photo taken by Ed McDowell, incoming Kauai Board of Realtors president, Thursday during the annual Board of Realtors meeting at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Donna Rice, the current Kauai Board of Realtors president, looks on as mayoral candidates Mel Rapozo, Lenny Rapozo, and Derek Kawakami chat with realtors, Thursday during the annual Board of Realtors meeting at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.

LIHUE — The Kauai Board of Realtors’ annual trade show attracted more than 100 Realtors, nearly 40 exhibitors, and the county’s three mayoral candidates.

Derek Kawakami, Lenny Rapozo and Mel Rapozo mingled with attendees at the Christmas party setting before taking the stage Thursday at in the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.

“I’m not necessarily a new kid on the block, but I am one of the younger candidates,” Kawakami said. “I do have what I feel is a wealth of experience that I can bring to this county, to this island.”

He related his experience on KIUC’s board of directors in 2006 as strategic planning chair, setting goals for utilizing 50 percent renewable energy. Since then, he’s served on the county council, as president of Hawaii State Association of Counties, as representative in the Legislature, as chairman for Community Economic Development and Business, and as current county councilman.

“Economic development has always been a passion of mine and my focus has always been on job creation and economic development,” he said. “I’ve been able to bring back some tangible lists together as far as capital improvement projects, improving our schools, improving our roads and our highways.”

In the private sector, he said his family owned and operated Big Save for generations and he oversaw five convenient stores, two Shell gas stations, five Subway restaurants and two gift shops.

“I understand how challenging it is to develop businesses in Kauai,” Kawakami said. “I really feel that the government’s role is to create economies and to invest in infrastructure because that infrastructure investment is what’s going to carry us through some of the slow times.”

Lenny Rapozo, 52, was born and raised on Kauai. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in economics, then worked 20 years with the Department of Public Safety and almost 10 years with Parks and Recreation.

“I’ve been through the system and I believe it is my time to lead,” Lenny Rapozo said. “I have the experience and knowledge to do what we need to do to get these projects to move forward.”

He said he plans to focus on issues like the landfill, traffic and economy, as well as creating recreational opportunities, building youth programs and completing Ke Ala Hele Makalae.

“We need someone who has passion and someone that can take the lead and be the champion to get these people in better places for our community,” Lenny Rapozo said. “Anything that we need takes a partnership, and I want to continue to build these bridges so that we can succeed.”

Mel Rapozo, 53, began his county work as a police officer in 1985 and served the county in various positions ever since.

“Whether it’s housing or traffic or roads or homelessness or whatever, I don’t think there’s going to be an argument for what’s important, it’s how do we fix it,” he said.

“When I sit down and decide who’s going to be in my cabinet, I promise you I will elect the best,” Mel Rapozo added. “It’s a matter of putting the right team together and that’s what’s going to make things change.”

Mel Rapozo noted that he was the only council member against raising the general excise tax to fund public transportation improvements at Wednesday’s council meeting.

“I’m not the guy you see on TV on Wednesdays, the grumpy old man that is a grouch,” Mel Rapozo said. “My challenge in this campaign is making you guys find out the real Mel.”

“It’s going to be a great run,” he added. “I think it’s going to a fun race, fun campaign, and may the best man win.”

Attendees applauded the candidates and welcomed Ed MacDowell as new president to the Kauai Board of Realtors.

“The real estate community is enjoying themselves, meeting people they haven’t seen for a long time, getting to know the faces that they deal with all the time,” said Wil Welsh, principal broker for Wai’oli Properties. “Mostly this is a Christmas party with a little bit of a business edge to it.”

“As for the mayor candidates, Kawakami is very articulate, Mel is somewhat conservative, and I don’t know too much about Lenny,” Welsh said.

For most, it was a social event and fun luncheon to start the holiday season.

“Realtors are involved in more than just buying and selling real estate, we’re involved in the actual community,” said Karen Ono, executive officer for the Kauai Board of Realtors, “with our College is Possible financial aid program that we held with our open houses, so the public can see what Realtors do, with our landlord summit that we held for landlords specifically with the County Housing Agency.”

  1. Am I cray cray? December 8, 2017 2:24 am Reply

    Sad bunch of candidates for mayor. They all look like crooks.

  2. RG DeSoto December 8, 2017 8:27 am Reply

    As H.L. Mencken said: “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” Mel’s already furthering the process with the proposed GET hike.
    RG DeSoto

    1. Mel Rapozo December 9, 2017 4:48 pm Reply

      Mr. DeSoto, for your information, I was the lone vote AGAINST the GET hike.

      1. Lee December 12, 2017 8:52 pm Reply

        True, Mel was the only vote against the GET. I, personally, am in favor of the GET considering it will add 50 cents to every $100 I spend, far less than the shifts I see in Property Taxes or DMV tax or fuel taxes, none of which seem to be enough to get Koloa Road properly resurfaced. Also knowing that visitors will generally match my contribution (or surpass), I am hopeful my pot holes will someday get fixed (though I sorry excuse of a patch job was completed a few months ago). I do appreciate, however, Mr. Rapozo’s proclamation that those currently in charge of paving our roadways should be doing a better job. The sorrowful condition of Koloa Road in Lawai is evidence of this. Knowing that huge cement and rock trucks utilize this roadway constantly, a solid 4-inch resurface should’ve been done. Mahalo for reading this far 🙂

  3. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 8:31 am Reply

    “Keep Kaua’i, Kaua’i.” They should have not changed the airport. Or at the most make it smaller than what it is now. 1980s, the population was almost twice less than from today. I can see slower pace is better. But that’s the consensus. I don’t any of the candidates. All new to me. What does Dave Uchiyama think? Former Island Air CEO?

  4. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 8:35 am Reply

    I meant I don’t know any of the candidates. All new to me. Primary in 2018. And I won’t be voting for the other big guy. Bigger.

  5. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 8:51 am Reply

    Goodies here. I say we’re only dealing with 22% of the population or that much people involved. I don’t see them as the real players or anything special, so I’ll be typing in the same statistics. Primary election. Leo Azumbuja still around on Kaua’i?

  6. Team December 8, 2017 9:04 am Reply

    I really enjoyed hearing what all candidates had to say.

    RE:” “As for the mayor candidates, Kawakami is very articulate, Mel is somewhat conservative, and I don’t know too much about Lenny,” Welsh said.”

    I think Kawakami can articulate, but I see Mel’s passion, honesty, and heart in his speech. I would vote for Kawakami when I see him put in the work. Lenny, should work his way up and Mel should go for it.

  7. KOH I NOR December 8, 2017 10:07 am Reply

    Hem. Sewing machine.

  8. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 2:03 pm Reply

    Can we see a campaign party crew this next primary election? County councilmembers too. 2018. Some of them don’t have followers or intelligence.

  9. billyjoebob December 8, 2017 3:44 pm Reply

    Lenny, Derek and Mel = Larry, Curly and Moe

  10. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 4:14 pm Reply

    Serve other? Sounds like a failure.

  11. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 4:18 pm Reply

    Because you all look like losers or failures. For real. So serve…

  12. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 4:33 pm Reply

    I’m not with that 8% crew from so called “Waimea high school.” Decline all the way.

  13. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 4:40 pm Reply

    Lose meetings they have on cable. Why would I care about a lose meetings like that? No make sense. Unless you love Kaua’i. I don’t love Kaua’i that much. There is no wealth in that meeting. Bark.

  14. Sunrise_blue December 8, 2017 4:56 pm Reply

    So what if you’re all from the peep category. ALL i’m saying is your meetings are crap. Just like Oahu’s. Only on Oahu the big shots are the engineers. $32,000 dollars just for showing up to one HART meeting. Wow…to me.

  15. Debra Kekaualua December 8, 2017 5:25 pm Reply

    We can no longer allow the massive amounts of corruption that exists and needs to be addressed before any precincts Kauai wil be available for the next round of lies maneuvers and manipulations. NO Kauai voting precincts, confiscating ledgers of all who signed up to vote.

  16. Debra Kekaualua December 8, 2017 5:27 pm Reply

    Convenient this was held at the Board of Realtors, who do NOT understand land issues as in Allodial titles or title guarantee corporations insurance stealing your money,as there is no such thing as a CLEAR Title

  17. Craig Millett December 10, 2017 9:45 am Reply

    The title to this article is very misleading.
    If this is all these guys can come up with then Kauai is in deep trouble.
    Isn’t there some honest person who speaks in specifics with real ideas who could jump into this race and give us something to think about?

  18. Kapahi84 December 15, 2017 7:38 am Reply

    I’ll vote for the one that brings back the SUPERFERRY!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.