Jerome Freitas has been “Da Shadow” for 15 years. He considers it his responsibility to look out for Kauai’s taxpayers, their concerns and their safety.
His column has generally been published each Sunday in The Garden Island. He asks about roads that need repairing, signs that need replacing, bushes that need trimming and parks that need improving. He asks about bridges and beaches and abandoned vehicles. He asks about laws and budgets and zoning regulations. You get the idea. And the county does its best to answer those questions, which we appreciate. He believes strongly that elected officials must be held accountable for their decisions. He respects the county’s leaders at City Hall and they, in turn, respect him.
We are fortunate to have someone like Jerome Freitas looking out for taxpayers and we are fortunate he opts to work with TGI. His column is well read. Readers look forward to his questions and the county’s answers.
We should add that Jerome does not get paid for his column. He does this on his own, for free, because it’s important to him. He is one a rare individual. There is no one else like him. We would love to see him run for public office one of these days.
We mention all this because Jerome needs to take a break from his column for about a month. He’s been battling some ailments that demand more of his attention. That means he needs to take it easy, rest and recover.
He is a proud man who fights the good fight. His pride is clear when he shows newspaper clippings that chronicle the years of his dogged determination and relentless spirit. He delights in knowing that many people turn to him when there is an issue that needs to be highlighted. People know they can trust Jerome Freitas, that he will follow through and he will do his best to address their concerns.
Jerome Freitas, as we’ve said before and we’ll say it again, loves Kauai. He went to St. Catherine School and Kapaa High School. He was in the National Guard Reserve. He was a meat cutter and worked for the state before retiring in 2004.
Fast forward 15 years and hundreds of “Da Shadow” columns later. He moves a bit slower now, usually with a cane or a walker. And he usually has a briefcase packed with files and papers and pictures, all related to an issue someone called him about, something he is checking on. When the phone rings and someone asks for “The Shadow” he takes notes, jots down dates, places, descriptions. “The Shadow” rarely rests. But he needs to. At least, for now.
Mind you, before you get worried, Jerome isn’t going anywhere. Once he’s feeling better and can get around on his own safe and sound, his column will return to TGI. He has no plans to retire, which is a good thing, because we need people like Jerome and our readers count on him.
In a recent interview, we asked Jerome whether he’ll ever step away from his alter ego. Perhaps hand the torch to someone else. No way, he says.
“The reason I’ve been doing this the past 15 years, I think I’ve had some good response from the county, the government. We’re all not perfect but we try our best to work together in the best interests of the people of Kauai and Niihau. Taxpayers work hard for their money and I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing now.”
For now, though, “The Shadow” is signing off. But he’ll be back.