• Editor’s note: This is the eighth of profiles on those running for Kauai County Council. Fourteen candidates are running for seven two-year seats.
Making Kauai a better place to live and work is why Anahola resident Shaylene Iseri is once again running for Kauai County Council.
A member of the county council in 2004 and reelected in 2006, Iseri is one of Kauai’s former prosecuting attorneys and is currently a defense and family law attorney.
For many, she said, making a living on Kauai can be difficult and that affects aspects of daily life.
Crime is escalating and the increased number of women and individuals with mental health issues surfacing in the court system is alarming, she said.
“I think a lot of these issues that I see on a day-to-day basis since my two terms on the county council have never really been addressed to an extent I feel it needs to be, to make this community aware and to not only have prevention and awareness, but also solutions to these problems,” she said.
Iseri, who lost a family member to suicide during her campaign, said helping future generations is something everyone wants to do, but said it’s more important to help today’s ohana.
“It was a heartbreaking, traumatic experience,” she said.
Iseri processed the suicide with her campaign chairperson, working on a campaign at the same time.
“(It’s part of a) lot of the issues facing many of the residents here,” Iseri said. “Trying to deal with the struggles and how that came to be.”
Raising awareness for domestic violence victims and suicide victims is a priority for Iseri because she’s noticed victims are getting younger. Even if she’s not elected to the county council, Iseri said she’ll continue fighting for a healthy community.
Iseri said domestic violence is a piece to the picture of suicide rates on Kauai, especially among children, but that’s not the only factor.
Children are unhappy, she said, and the reason for that needs to be studied.
“When you’re seeing kids at 11 committing suicide, there’s definitely some problems here and I think it goes far beyond the bullying aspect or the homeless,” she said. “Drugs are a huge problem here.”
These issues must be talked about in order to save lives, Iseri said.
“It feels like there’s so much more that we can do and we’ve got to raise a lot more awareness and changing priorities. Everyone says kids are our number one asset, then let’s put that at the forefront and talk about the issues that are facing the kids,” she said.
Iseri said her background of working with crime victims as a prosecutor and her current work within the court system will be a benefit to the community.
With family roots to Kauai from the 1700s, Iseri said she wants to preserve cultural traditions that are passed down so new generations maintain those values.
“It definitely will add value to make sure Kauai is a special, unique place. It’s not only that it’s beautiful on the outside and we have scenic spots that you can see nowhere else,” she said.
One way to preserve the culture is to have a cultural practitioner on staff, she said.
“That should be a position that should be consulted with on any type of bill or anything that impacts the values of the community. That would be something unique that hasn’t been provided before,” she said.
Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, 652-7891, firstname.lastname@example.org