I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a KKCR “Out Of The Box” radio show that featured a discussion among four candidates for Kauai County Council. I was genuinely impressed by each and every one of these individuals and found myself at the end of the show hoping that each will be elected on Nov. 6.
The show was co-hosted by community radio stalwart Jonathan Jay and we were joined in the studio by Kyahnasun Dakini, who shared her mana’o and among other things, asked the four candidates the “dairy question.”
Jonathan Jay had designed the show around exploring the embedded wisdom of the Hawaiian Proverb – Olelo No‘eau — “He Wa‘a He Moku; He Moku He Wa‘a” — “The Canoe is an Island; The Island is a Canoe.” He invited these particular four candidates to be on the show because each has experience in the canoe paddling world.
It was an interesting and thought-provoking show, a new generation of leaders sharing life lessons and attitudes about the value of trust and teamwork they learned from paddling wa‘a.
Besides the most obvious “we are all in this together” correlation with the canoe metaphor, many other common themes were brought to the surface as well.
Experienced canoe paddlers know and understand that once they are in the canoe, individual egos must be set aside for the common good and each paddler’s strengths and weaknesses must be considered when evaluating their placement and paddle position.
The individual paddler must be self-aware enough to recognize their own tendencies and abilities in order to “play their position” as best as they can. Each must accept, respect, and support the others so long as they are giving it their best, even if they may not be the strongest or the most talented.
Foremost is keeping the ultimate destination always in mind and all four agreed that ultimately that goal with regards to the council centers around improving and protecting the quality of life for local residents.
All four recognized and supported the fact that the ultimate destination will only be reached ostensibly via a common vision supported by good planning and steady management.
In my experience serving in politics, these quality of life objectives are relatively easy to agree on but the specific proposals for solutions to real world, here and now problems are often debated and rarely achieve unanimous consensus.
The perfect storms that confront any legislative body attempting to reach consensus on public policy are inevitably controversial, and passing through unscathed is further complicated by the injection of ego and arrogance, often referred to as “the big dog syndrome.”
Anyone who watches the Kauai County Council knows what I am talking about. While we never really got to the question as to what happens in a canoe when the “big dog syndrome” rears its ugly head, I suspect the answer would be somewhere between “throw him overboard” and “ignore him and just keep paddling.”
Keeping your eye on the long view, dealing proactively with the problems facing us today, and ignoring and disempowering the ego driven distractions, are the true tests of leadership especially needed now on the Kauai County Council. I believe all four of these individuals, while each being uniquely different from the other, meet that test.
Mason Chock who presently serves on the Kauai County Council, is a solid rock of character and integrity. He is grounded in community, pragmatic in his approach to problem solving, and serves as a leadership bridge of sorts on the existing council.
Felicia Cowden cares deeply about all of Kauai as demonstrated by the countless hours she spends attending meetings and functions occurring throughout our island. She is driven to learn and know more about the challenges that face us, and is committed to searching out solutions to those challenges.
Luke Evslin is likely the most analytical of the group and you will find that his eye will never leave the ball. His focus will always be on the long game and achieving the end vision, but he is pragmatic enough to understand that in order to get to that end destination, stops and adjustments have to be made along the way.
Adam Roversi is a candidate who I know the least, but in many ways the one with whom I am most impressed. He possesses a rare combination of deep thinking and realism. A pragmatic idealist, he understands the need to find and develop tangible solutions to problems before the county today.
Roversi is a former building contractor who put himself through law school (with a focus on Hawaiian and environmental law), and then came home to serve as a Kauai deputy county attorney.
Each and every endeavor he pursued was fraught with challenges, but in each case he rose to the occasion, learned the lessons that needed to be learned, and then achieved the goal he had set his eyes on. I have no doubt if elected to the Kauai County Council on Nov. 6, that Roversi will once again rise to the occasion and serve our community with distinction.
While each of these candidates is possessed with sufficient personal confidence and self worth to be “a big dog” in their own right, each also possesses the maturity needed to be able to set aside their personal egos in pursuit of the common good. As proven by their existing life and past accomplishments, each is also incredibly hard working, knowledgeable, and committed to our community.
Oh, and about the dairy question? All four of the candidates answered it similarly and to paraphrase; “Based on the information that is available, I do not support a dairy of this size and scope in the area in which it is proposed.”
Please talk to these four individuals yourself and in fact, reach out to all 14 council candidates. Attend the forums and review their websites and FaceBook pages. You’ll find the process of elimination is fairly straight forward.
Of the 14, some will not return your email and several will not have a website or a Facebook page.
When you attend a forum or two you will also find that unfortunately more than a few (those who believe they are the true big dogs) do not even bother to attend these worthwhile public events.
Do your homework and make your own scorecard. Talk to your friends and family and make your own informed decision as to whom can best lead our county forward in the coming years.
Most importantly, vote!
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.