w Editor’s note: This is the third of profiles on those running for Kauai County Council. TGI plans to run at least one profile daily. Fourteen candidates are running for seven two-year seats.
After five years in office, some politicians become disillusioned or complacent. Incumbent Mason Chock, though, retains his sense of humor, drive and self-reflective humility. His experience over the past several years seems to have solidified his hope and determination.
“I truly am a reasonable voice on the council and the one who will probably listen the best amongst my fellow colleagues, and I will always follow through,” he said. “What you’ll have out of a council member is one who will stay the course, be clear, and model good decision making. I will always attempt to bring people around good ideas and not be divisive.”
This divisiveness he alludes to has been an occasional stumbling block for the current administration where grandstanding sometimes overrides compromise, but Chock has worked hard during his term to be an example of good leadership and diplomacy.
“We need members who are willing to have healthy dialogue and healthy conflict so we can get the best solutions on the table and come together,” he said. “We can disagree as much as we need to but we need to leave the table still working together.”
Maintaining his seat is not only ideal for continuity and institutional memory, he said, but is also his opportunity to redirect the status quo, getting the council to work more seamlessly within the relationships that will move agendas forward.
“I see it as an exciting time because there are vacancies on the council for us to see emerging leaders come to fruition; to get new, exciting and innovative ideas on the table; to be able to create some positive change, and I want to be a part of that,” he said.
The 47-year-old Kauai native and father of two sons said his greatest success has been as a bridge between departments in pushing items through the council that might have otherwise fallen by the wayside, like ushering in the General Plan. But ultimately, the biggest challenge the council faces today is working together and with other governing bodies, Chock said.
“We can identify all the priorities and the needs but if we can’t move the needle forward and work together properly, it’s not going to happen,” he said. “We need to think outside the box on stuff like housing.”
While he is a proponent of the General Plan, Chock emphasizes that there are key actions missing and it will be the new council’s first priority to come to an agreement on how they do business, starting with setting priorities.
Of those, at the top is the high cost of living. Islandwide self-sustainability will be a strong economic metric of any plan’s success.
As a former fireman and role model for leadership development through Leadership Kauai and Kupu A’e Leadership Development, Chock has been committed to service of the people and environment of the island.
He hopes to address the challenges of inequality, especially as they apply to Native Hawaiian stewardship of culture and resources by creating a space for minority communities to be outspoken.
He hopes that such an arena will open a long-overdue discussion surrounding self-determination and restitution by whatever degree the community sees fit.
“It’s time, as this world and our country continues to falter, that we need some answers. And I believe wholeheartedly that one of the solutions will be for us to look at what it would take for Hawaii to gain its independence,” he said. “That’s an inclusive process for me, not to kick everyone out, but to reset a society that is taking us down the wrong path. It goes back to restitution to people who have lost their sovereign rights.”
Mason Chock has made it easy for voters to view his voting record, successes in office, and where he stands on issues via his webpage, mason4kauai.org.
Cat Frazier is a Kekaha resident who writes periodically for The Garden Island.