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 — Kaua‘i County Council candidate Dr. Addison Bulosan sits on a couch in his Specific Chiropractic Center office off Umi Street in Lihu‘e, more reserved than his online persona seen daily on Facebook Lives.
An ambivert, he notes that he’s quieter in person, but as a musician, he’s comfortable performing in front of hundreds. But, he said, getting in front of others can be a challenge sometimes.
“You show up at the Sheraton at a 500 person event, as a political candidate you shake hands with every single person. That right there gives me anxiety,” he said. “I want to represent all of you and help all of you, but can we meet in small groups? Let’s talk. I’m good at that.”
Music, Bulosan’s first love, brought him to Seattle in 2004 after graduating from Kaua‘i High School to study audio production at the Art Institute of Seattle.
“I got to pursue really cool things,” he said. “I always wanted to move back home, but I didn’t want to do it until I had something to give.”
And that was helping people with chronic illness, he said, by becoming a chiropractor. Now, he owns two practices, one on Kaua‘i and the other on Maui.
“The council run is that next logical step to help people in a bigger way,” Bulosan said. “For me, it makes sense for me to run because there’s no one really with my perspective.”
And that’s the mindset of a “business-minded local person with a healthcare background,” he explained.
“When we’re looking at the challenges in the next two to four to six years, it’ll be confronted on the council level,” he said. “Most people don’t understand how difficult it’s going to be. Financially, it’s going to be insane. If you just think about what’s going on in the world, not just Kaua‘i.”
Bulosan said the county budget will be affected because of the ongoing pandemic, and projects funded by both the county and state will be hit negatively.
“How does the county pivot and make sure that certain projects are going to keep going and which will be stopped? How do you keep people working?” Bulosan opined. “To make sure that small businesses can still work and keep people going so that our local economy can keep going so we can adapt and change for the new times? That’s why I feel for me it makes sense to run, because there’s no one with my perspective.”
Bulosan also owns Tasting Kaua‘i, which has been shut since March, a food tour that would bring tourists to local restaurants that focused on local ingredients.
“(Tasting Kaua‘i) wanted to drive and increase the demand for local ingredients so that restaurant and farmers could continue to use local ingredients because they knew somebody would be there,” he said.
Exporting goods is expensive, Bulosan said, so the county needs to find a better way to connect markets and make profit margins worth it for farmers. More demand, he said, contributes to a “more sustainable resource for food sustainability versus just increasing on the farmer’s supply.”
He’s also the president of the Rice Street Business Association, Vice president of the Lihu‘e Business Association, a board member of Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, Hawai‘i Foodbank – Kaua‘i, Leadership Kaua‘i, Hale Opio Kaua‘i and a member of Kaua‘i Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, International Federation of Chiropractors and Organization.
In the past, Bulosan has been a member of Junior Achievement Kaua‘i, Rotary Club of Kaua‘i, Filipino Chamber and Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council, Kaua‘i County Board of Ethics, Kaua‘i County Workforce Development Board.
If elected, Bulosan said he’s focusing on stabilizing the economy so small and local businesses survive. Business innovation, he said, is partly hindered on Kaua‘i because of internet infrastructure and a lack of job diversity.
“Tourism will have to return as part of the main engines for our economy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the way it used to be,” he said.
At 33, Bulosan, who lives with his parents, said the housing market continues to not meet the demand.
“I live in the house that I was born. That sounds like either I’m a failure or (makes people think), ‘How does this doctor not have his own place?’” he said. “But there isn’t resentment there. We really need to do something way different than we have the past 10-15 years. The rate is not at the rate to support just the local people.”
He believes focusing on the towncores and building more diverse homes, like tiny homes, condos, mixed-use buildings and apartments could make a dent in the supply.
Bulosan said his biggest strength is collaboration.
“There is no challenge or problem that cannot be overcome in my perspective,” he said. “That is crucial in this time. A lot of the challenges that we are going to face are so deep. If we don’t engage the community and try to leverage each other’s skills we could fall into places where we make decisions that potentially hurt people.”
Bulosan said helping people gives him the strength to keep moving every day, and drives him to work each morning.
“I don’t have kids, and I don’t have a partner. My love is my work. I can work 14 hours a day and feel fine because I have no accountability to anyone but myself, and my life is dedicated to service and people.”