Editor’s note: The Garden Island Newspaper sat down with all 14 candidates running for a seat on the Kaua‘i County Council. Profiles will run in no particular order throughout the month of October leading up to the election.
LIHU‘E — “I showed up,” was the message Kaua‘i County Council candidate Rev. Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, 52, of Lihu‘e posted on her Facebook each time she took a walk around the Marriott Kauai Beach Resort.
After taking care of both her husband (due to an accident at work) and father at the same time, while weighing 340 pounds, Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, like many caregivers found herself falling ill, which triggered the urgency for her to start her self care journey.
“I started working on me, I made little changes,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said as she walked with The Garden Island in September. “First it was water, and then my dad was 78 years old at the time, and he would walk at the stadium every single day and go up the stairs. I would go and watch him walk until one day I decided to get up and walk.”
She calls her journey “I showed up,” and by making better health decisions one step at a time, she lost 150 pounds.
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad is part Hawaiian, Portuguese, French and Irish, and is a proud alumna of Kapa‘a High School with three daughters: Tara, Tori and Tyli.
“My parents, Sonny and Linda Wai‘ale‘ale, gave me a beautiful life,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “They taught me the value of hard work, respect, truth, and love with just enough grit that I could more than defend myself as the only girl in the family. With our family-owned business, we worked when our friends played and took vacations.”
Her parents came home to Kaua‘i to buy and grow their 40-plus-year-old business, Wai‘ale‘ale Boat Tours, which ran tours up Wailua River to the Fern Grotto.
To help her take that new leap of faith, her ministry partner and husband, Poki, of 28 years, became her pillar and helped her enhance her faith when she started running for office.
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad’s council vision
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad worked for the county engineer as the community relations and clerical assistant for 10 years.
“I learned a lot about engineering and about the work that the county gets done,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “I think there is a mentality or thought that the county supposedly doesn’t work. But what I realized is not only do they work, they work tirelessly and incredibly hard. They give more than just eight hours.”
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad believes there is a divide between the county and the council now.
“I would love to bridge the gap and not have it be that way,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “I’d love to see us working tightly and cohesively with Aloha with the Mayor. I have to say I am proud of him and the way he has handled this pandemic.”
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad’s favorite slogan is “Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi,” which means to love one another.
“I think as a minister I have some strengths,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “I know what it takes to love people, I know what it takes to listen and I know what it takes to bring people together.”
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad believes that love will bring people to the table.
“Right now I am the average person, I’m not a politician, I am the constitute that is voting. I am a worker bee.”
Her vision is simple: “I’ve learned that if you want something done, in a certain area, go to the people who live in that area because they are going to be the most passionate.”
On housing and Hawaiian culture
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done with our housing issues, affordable issues, and our houseless issues,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “I mean there are so many different facets of the housing issues that really need to be dealt with.”
Like many, she said she can’t afford to buy her dream home with just one household income.
“Even with some of the projects that have come up, they are great and they put some people into homes, but it doesn’t work for me, because it’s not affordable for me,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “I agree, that’s a great idea to have a kama‘aina market housing.”
According to Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, the next generation is losing a piece of Hawaiian culture because of the global pandemic.
“We can’t hug or honi honi (Hawaiian greeting),” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “That’s our culture. It’s frowned upon now so this generation is not going to know that. We are losing the fabrics of who we are as Hawaiian people.”
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said people should forewarn their new neighbors from out of state no matter where they live on how they live here on Kaua‘i.
“I also think one step further that we as Hawaiians and Hawaiians at heart,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “Cause whether you have the Koko (blood) that makes you Hawaiian or you are Hawaiian because you been born and raised here your whole life. You are here, you live here, that makes you have kuleana to this area.”
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said Kaua‘i is special not just because it didn’t get conquered but because there is something about the people and Kaua‘i’s spirit that makes Kaua‘i different from the other islands.
“So when we understand that we have ownership, we understand we have kuleana, and we have pride now we have someone that will do good things,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “They are complacent with passion. They understand their pride and their responsibility and will move forward to make things happen in a way that will be pono.”
She continued: “When things are not pono, we have to understand and take responsibility for that as well. It’s not pono that there is an abandoned vehicle.”
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad is on the board for KSAK Kamehameha Schools Parent’s Association. She also volunteers her time at Leadership Kaua‘i, on the committee on the Status of Women, and on the Salvation Army Advisory Board.
“What I would bring if I got blessed with the council opportunity,” Wai‘ale‘ale Battad said. “I would show up. I would take these steps and I would walk them for you, the people. I will show up for you and do the work. I may not know all the issues but I am a quick learner. I will learn and pay attention. Probably the most important thing is that I know how to love people.”
Wai‘ale‘ale said she would do everything in her power to be herself, a person who loves God, loves Kaua‘i, and has a family.