LIHU‘E — Ballots for the primary election are starting to land in the mailboxes of Kaua‘i residents (see the related story, A8), and to get to know the candidates better, The Garden Island reached out to candidates for Kaua‘i County Council, state representative and Kaua‘i trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, giving them an opportunity to explain their platforms.
Each candidate was given the same word limit to define their goals in running for office. Out of 30 candidates for office in the primary election, 23 responded. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Candidates for Kaua‘i County Council
Dr. Addison Bulosan: The three main areas I’ll be working on is our local economy, affordable homes and environment. The collective solutions will also be addressing our traffic, infrastructure, cost of living, quality of life and climate change. I’m partnering with community leaders, local experts and resources in order to work collaboratively and effectively. A key part of these solutions is utilizing well-researched data to make informed decisions. My current action step is growing our town core centers such as Waimea, Hanapepe, Kalaheo, Koloa, Lihu‘e, Kapa‘a, Anahola and Kilauea. By leveraging existing infrastructure we can focus on helping our local businesses and families live, work and play in their respective towns. This type of growth limits urban sprawl, which affects agricultural land, reduces negative impacts on our environment and reduces traffic. In addition, town cores effectively reduce cost of living, create better social lifestyles and improve quality of life.
Bernard Carvalho: Aloha! I’ve worked for seventeen years as a civil servant, six years as a department head, and held part-time positions in the tourism and airline industries. Honored to have served as the mayor of the County of Kaua‘i for 10 years. I am committed to making the tough decisions based on the voice of the people along with my proven ability in working collaboratively in finding solutions and building relationships that will secure resources locally and from abroad.
In addressing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis we are experiencing on our island, I’m committed to working closely and supporting the administration in enforcement and implementation of all health and safety rules and regulations as we seek solutions and resources to address the “New Normal” way of caring for our people, our visitors and our island home.
Investments that will make tourism, agriculture, smart growth/sustainability and affordable housing stronger, smarter, and more resilient than ever before are needed now as we rebuild our economy.
Be assured that I will bring to the table not only years of government experience, but also the heart and determination to serve the people of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.
Dedicated, proven leadership!
Mason Chock: I’m committed to fiscal responsibility, rebuilding our economy by investing in new industries and providing basic human needs for the health of our residents. Balancing visitor impacts and keeping us as safe as possible will require managing their movement by region, enacting control measures that limit access by way of visitor permits or fees. De-incentivizing rental cars and shifting to multi-modal transportation such as shuttles is key. We need to highlight the privilege of being a visitor and the kuleana that comes with it, reflecting the true impact and expense on our infrastructure and services. We should follow through on the General Plan’s reference to establish a Kakou Committee to work towards a more-sustainable, circular economy model. Investing in infrastructure needs for housing and our agriculture industry will continue to be my goal. Lastly, I want to focus on needed resilience efforts caused by the effects of climate change.
Felicia Cowden: My top priority for Kaua‘i is to help our citizens find ways to regain economic strength and stability in order to thrive after this difficult COVID-19 window. I humbly ask for your vote for a second term as your council-member. Decades of Kaua‘i community advocacy and a career history in engineering, business and education have prepared me to serve the people of Kaua‘i. I have full-time availability with no competing job, business or family responsibilities to divide my focus. Putting People First is my motto. I have been honored to actively assist citizens to solve their challenges while I more deeply gain understanding of the subtleties and implications of the policies we create. I am willing to listen to ideas from the range of our people with an open mind in order to help develop win-win solutions in this important window of opportunity for directional change.
Mike Dandurand: I am a local boy with a Notre Dame education. I’ve been living on Kaua’i for 34 years and own a successful mobile Dj business, Kustom Sounds Kaua‘i. I love Kaua‘i and want to help protect her from over-tourism. My focus is to lead Kaua‘i in a direction of self-reliance. We cannot count on tourism to save us. We need to start on a path of serious sustainability, now. My vision of Kaua‘i moving forward is an independent, self-sustaining, locally-owned-business driven, healthy, environmentally-conscious community.
Billy DeCosta: Sustainability. I promise to work toward: Allowing people to lease state ag land and allowing them to build a small house on it so they can farm; promote growing more grains to feed our livestock; work to create a partnership for a processing facility for meat and value-added products.
Local economy. I promise to work toward: Designated visitor districts so we can efficiently track potential clusters and minimize movement across the island; exploring more shuttle routes for visitors; exploring a tertiary septic system which produces potable water to be used for irrigation and in homes; offering incentives to people starting local businesses for locally-made essential items for food security.
Resiliency. I promise to work toward: creating programs like Jr. Lifeguard in different fields; creating labor-based internships for our high schoolers to prepare them with skills to apply right out of high school.
Debralynn Desilva Carveiro: Aloha! Everyone knows me as Mizdebz, the lady who ran the 711 in Lawa‘i. I’m coming to you for your vote, not because you know me, but because you know what type of person I am, key ingredients in management is transparency, without the truth and facts, everything crumbles, without commitment, everything crumbles, my focus in this election is about the people. You may say to yourselves, what about the people? I say to you, the people are what makes Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i. The care and aloha to give it all, even when the bleakness seems to be hovering over us, we still stand and do what is required, regardless. So I ask you for that chance to fight for you, aloha and be blessed Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.
Luke Evslin: On Kaua‘i, we face a number of deep and interwoven problems: home prices are too high, good jobs are too hard to find, carbon emissions are changing our climate and threatening our coast, and traffic is overwhelming both our infrastructure and our patience. Some of these problems have festered so long it may feel as if we’re powerless to change them.
I’m running for office because I believe there are solutions. Our land and how we use it is at the heart of all these issues. And while the County Council may be limited in some aspects of island governance, we do have the power to direct the density, location and form of development. Through these tools, we can reduce home prices, reduce inequality, reduce carbon emissions and reduce the time we spend in traffic. For my complete platform, please visit my website at lukeevslin.com.
Victoria Franks: The best way to outline my platform is to highlight what I’ve accomplished — without holding an elected office. Because of my work with youth, I helped found the Ho‘okele Coalition, whose purpose is to discourage underage drinking and drug use. My work with the homeless — including serving on the mayor’s Houseless Solutions Team — led me to work to bring a branch of Family Life Center to Kaua‘i (an agency that helps place houseless families in permanent housing). I’ve helped with programs to gather recyclables to raise money for schools/youth programs. We also began a program called Transformation, which helps people with life-controlling problems and addictions. This led to the opening of Transformation House (I’m a board member), which helps reintegrate people into society upon release from prison. This is just a small portion of what I’ve achieved outside of office. I can accomplish much more if elected.
Richard S. Fukushima: As a candidate for the Kaua‘i County Council, I will work hard for you in all aspects of our communities, from the North Shore to the Westside and including Ni‘ihau. I will be supporting the affordable housing, education, infrastructures, environment issues, and work on diversifying our economy. We need to help the farmers and the tourist industries to be back on their feet and get through this pandemic.
I humbly ask for one of your seven votes in the upcoming election. We appreciate all of our leaders’ efforts and their hard work. Keep safe and God bless.
Ed Justus: I am the owner and operator of Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe, which I started in 2004 — Kaua‘i’s only bookstore. Here’s my focus: Balancing our economy and becoming less dependent on tourism. We can start accomplishing this by bringing back diversified agriculture, and we definitely can incentivize it. With our amazing agricultural land here, we can grow enough food to not only provide for all of Kaua‘i, we could feed the entire island chain, and even export the excess. Not only would this create additional supportive industries and jobs, it would open up opportunities for new businesses that create value-added products from the crops grown as well. Also, for public safety, we must also recognize agriculture as critical infrastructure due to our geographic isolation, ensuring we can feed and provide for ourselves in preparation for long-term emergencies. We have so much potential here, and I know we can make it happen.
Arryl Kaneshiro: I am running for Kaua‘i County Council because I care about Kaua‘i and I care about its future. I bring with me my business and accounting acumen, six years of experience on the council as chair of the budget, my commitment to community service, and the values and principles that were instilled in me from family, teachers, coaches and the community. Growing up here, I believe I can represent the people of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau well because I am a regular, everyday Kaua‘i resident who works hard and wants to make the best life for myself and my family. I strive for a future that maintains the same values and sense of family that have shaped my own life. I would be humbled and honored to have your vote and serve out my final term in office.
KipuKai Kuali‘i: I’m a passionate advocate for our people and for our islands; using my experience and dedication to work on whatever’s needed to protect and improve the quality of life for all our residents. Here’s my platform:
Rebuilding and Diversifying Our Economy — Bringing folks together to make our economic recovery our top priority!
Budgeting Responsibly and Limiting Taxes — Fighting for our citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars is needed now more than ever!
Building Affordable Homes and Rentals — Leading as Housing chair to bring about vital improvements to our housing policy.
Delivering Core Services Efficiently — Prioritizing the efficient delivery of Public Safety and Public Works.
Protecting Our ‘Aina and Sustenance Lifestyles — Protecting our Natural Resources, Agriculture and Local Sustenance Lifestyles.
Collaborating for Community Solutions — Working with both public and private partners to develop and implement forward-thinking solutions to longstanding challenges like climate change, drug abuse, teen suicide and traffic congestion.
Wally Nishimura: Wally Nishimura grew up on the Eastside of Kaua‘i and currently resides in Anahola. Wally is happily married and has four children. He currently serves our island community by working in the healthcare industry as the regional safety officer and environmental services superintendent with Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation.
I will never support an increase in taxes. It is especially important now that we strategically implement measures to bring economic stability to our residents. It is clear now more than ever that we are in dire need of diversification in order to facilitate stability. I support agriculture and technology expansion as we seek to find innovative ways to fuel our local economy. We need to create alternate routes to address traffic and the potential long-term impacts of climate change.
I will bring back honor, respect and integrity to the government. I will fight for the people.
Jakki Nelson: If elected to the Kaua‘i County Council, my top three priorities are to reopen Kaua‘i safely, encourage sustainable tourism and address our affordable-housing shortage.
It is important that Kaua‘i’s tourism brand include being a safe travel destination. After getting effective safety measures defined, I’d propose deferments or waivers on GET (general excise tax) and licensing fees. I’d listen to business owners and push for reimagining of business models to allow for profitability while implementing new safety and sanitation standards. I’d look into expanding our urban boundaries and suggest re-zoning to allow more home-owned businesses.
We need tourism models that benefit our community as well as our visitors. Agritourism is one model. We’re the Garden Isle. Travelers would be interested in permaculture, hemp or biodynamic farm tours or retreats, for example.
Investing in housing development for Kaua‘i’s middle class would pay off by decreasing the need for homeless support, and decreasing crime.
Rory Parker: COVID-19 did not create the struggle. It exposed it.
If elected I pledge to stand with employees, not employers. Those who offer low wages and at-will employment neither need nor deserve assistance.
The tourism industry takes far more than it gives. That a temporary cessation of tourism led to near-immediate desperation proves that the industry exists in a parasitic relationship with residents. We must immediately increase all fees and taxes associated with tourism in anticipation of re-opening. Kaua‘i must make tourism pay.
TVRs (transient vacation rentals) poison every single community in which they exist. It is not the duty of Kaua‘i residents to foster an environment in which investment properties thrive. I pledge to fight any and all developments that do not provide housing for local residents. Kaua‘i needs homes more than we need visitors.
No one knows what the future may bring. But we cannot return to “normal.” “Normal” did not work.
Shirley Simbre-Medeiros: Too much to say and time to do. Everyone wants to know your platform on what, when, where and why.
My concern for Kaua‘i is for the people. I need to clean up what the six Kaua‘i councilmembers should have done. They have the power to do something about a Kaua‘i county councilmember who is still collecting income but is not doing what he promised the people of Kaua‘i who voted him in office. Suspension is maximum one month, for what reason? So Kaua‘i County Council could have suspended that seventh councilember without pay and repeat until the term is over. Instead, they’re just letting him ride the freebie. How can anyone put out a platform what they want for Kaua‘i when there’s this still hanging over the people’s minds about that person. It’s not fair for the people of Kaua‘i.
Drugs and homeless is another topic. We all talk ‘till we’re blue in the face, and wait and wait, but nothing gets done.
They build a rehab for the youth and then a downfall — no rehab for whatever reason.
They build a supposedly homeless shelter and….?
So that’s what I’m aiming to do: Complete and follow through, making sure it is done for the reason that they started.
This goes for everything else in today’s needs for Kaua‘i.
Jade Wai‘ala‘ele-Battad: The essence of my campaign is the concept of Kuleana. I am a mother, a wife, a minister and a cultural practitioner. In my working life, I have helped run a family business, am a Coast Guard licensed captain and worked for 10 years in county government.
I care about this island and its people, and I hope to be a part of the movement that reshapes our economy and protects our environment, expands locally-grown food supplies, helps to heal our island from the perils of addictions and builds affordable homes for our residents and shelters for our houseless individuals. I will advocate for regenerative businesses that will bring us meaningful work and livable wages.
To me, Kuleana involves accepting responsibility. I will see, listen and respect people so we can work together for a future that builds families and allows us to build a better life for our ‘aina and our people.
State Representative District 14
Steve Monas, a Republican candidate for District 14 is running on his ideas, in addition to his platform. Monas’ background in entrepreneurship will work well into a creating a robust Kaua‘i economic evolution and recovery. Monas had successfully restructured failing multimillion-dollar businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, and his business book, “ShoeString Venture: The Startup Bible,” was taught at Rutgers University Entrepreneurship Program to aspiring innovators. A single, full-time father of three young, active elementary school kids, as well as a caregiver to his 87-year-old father, Monas understands the meaning of ‘ohana.
Monas will use his ideas to do the following: empower small businesses to the next level, create a “Smart Kaua‘i” that will start with our keiki, partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) benefits to smart phones, fulfill a promise and make the current Kanaka Maoli homes tax-exempt. Learn more at SteveMonas.com
State Representative District 15
Jimmy Tokioka: My name is James Kunane Tokioka and I’m running for re-election to the state House District 15. I am the son of Thomas (deceased 2013) and Grace Tokioka of Waipouli. I have two children, Pono, 25, and Emma, 20. I served 10 years on the County Council (1996-2006) and the past 14 years in the state House (2007-Present).
I want to thank the voters on Kaua‘i for giving me the privilege of representing you for the past 24 years. If re-elected I will continue to be your eyes and ears at the State Capitol. I’ll continue to reach out to you to understand what is important to you, and vote accordingly. Experience is critical during a global pandemic. I believe the experience I have and the ability to reach out to key stakeholders is a big benefit to doing the job. I humbly ask for your vote. Mahalo!
State Representative District 16
Daynette “Dee” Morikawa: For the past 10 years, I have served in many capacities at the Legislature. Currently, as the House majority floor leader, I am in a leadership role that is critical in decision-making. I was elected to serve the public, and my commitment is reflected in my perfect session attendance for all those years. My entire adult life has been dedicated to public service, and it continues to be my passion.
My priorities have always been for the health and safety of our residents, good education for children and young adults, and affordable housing. Addressing issues regarding COVID-19 is paramount, and economic recovery will be the biggest problem for Hawai‘i. We will need to make many tough decisions, and we will get through these troubling times. I continue to be accessible and work towards resolving problems whenever possible. Thank you for the honor and privilege of working for you.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Kamealoha Smith: I felt compelled to run because of the many issues our island and all of Hawai‘i are facing due to COVID-19. Small businesses have closed, people have lost their jobs and homelessness has increased. It is difficult for OHA to address these issues due to political infighting at board meetings, ongoing state/federal investigations and an unresolved audit!
OHA needs bold leadership for the islands of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, one who has the courage to “clean house” at OHA, one who is committed to work with everyone in the community and who has innovative ideas to move our community and Hawai‘i forward. I feel I am that candidate who has the experience, qualifications and passion to work with the community to pull us through these uncertain times.
I humbly ask that you vote Kamealoha Smith as your next OHA Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau island trustee. Hiki no a lanakila! (Together we can!)
Candidates who did not submit a statement on their platform include: Donovan Kanani Cabebe and Naomi Taniguchi, both running for council; Nadine Nakamura, running for state Representative District 14; Steve Yoder, running for state Representative District 15; Ana Mo Des, running for state Representative for District 16; and Dan Ahuna and Brittny Perez, both running for the OHA Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau representative seat.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.