• Editor’s note: The Garden Island sat down with all 14 candidates running for seats on the Kaua‘i County Council. Profiles will run in no particular order throughout the month of October leading up to the election.
HANALEI — Kaua‘i County Council candidate Mike Dandurand, 58, is a business owner of Kustom Sounds Kaua‘i, a mobile DJ company for weddings, luaus, and graduation parties for over 33 years.
He is known to be a man of action and is not afraid to help get something started out of nothing if it benefits the community. In September, Dandurand was found in action as he helped a local organization “Kaua‘i Food Hub,” of Hanalei, which he helped create, organize the produce from local farmers, and delivered them straight into the hands of the local residents and chefs on Kaua‘i who purchased them online.
As Dandurand was talking, his partners Paulina Ann and Tiele-Lauren Doudt of Kaua‘i Food Hub organized the nine orders of bags of produce before they delivered it to the residents.
“The concept of Kauaifoodhub.org, is that we got together and we realized that all of the grant money that is providing free food boxes to our people is great but is not going to be sustainable eventually will run out,” Dandurand said. “So what we are trying to do is create a model that is sustainable that will support the local farmers.”
Dandurand said he cares about what is happening now during the pandemic and wants to focus on what the people need first to help them get through the crisis.
“My whole platform is to take action,” Dandurand said. “And that’s why this is happening. Because we couldn’t wait till January or February to become in council, this has to happen now.”
The other issues, he believes, can be prioritized later.
“From my heart, I truly believe that Kaua‘i’s future is depending on the sustainability of its self,” Dandurand said. “Our people, the people on the island need to understand and commit to supporting the island before they do anything else before they spend any money anywhere else. The money is the most important thing, that’s their power. And if they spend it somewhere else, then they are giving their power away.”
“What we need to do is have them spend it locally, farmers, small business, as long as it’s a local small business,” Dandurand said.
Dandurand gets his inspiration from his family. He and his siblings were always with his mom, and he observed how she handles her responsibilities.
“I saw how hard she worked,” Dandurand said. She would talk to people, and motivate people and get people to do things. That strength, I feel I got that from my mom. She always been my independent hardworking person and not to be afraid to take chances. So she never worked for anybody, she always had her own business. I think that’s kind of what is in my blood.”
He continued: “Even just from starting my own business, even this, there is no fear of just jumping in and say we can do this. We can create something out of nothing and build it up.”
Dandurand was born in the Philippines in 1962 to an Army father, Donald Dandurand, who met his Japanese mother, Yoko Igushi, his commanding officer on base. His parents started dating and helped each other speak better English and Japanese. His parents then moved to Japan, where his two younger siblings were born.
Then, his ohana moved to O‘ahu and called Makakilo home, where he attended Catholic schools, and graduated from Saint Louis High School in 1990, and got his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame of Indiana, where his dad and his younger sister also graduated from.
He has a younger brother, Christopher, who passed away at the age of 16, and a sister, Kim, a single mom working for Google in California, with two young men she raised on her own.
Dandurand is married to Rivers Blake. She has three sons and three grandchildren, which made him a proud instant grandfather.
“She works at Wilcox in the Emergency Room,” Dandurand said. “I am so proud of the hard work she and the crew at Wilcox are doing for Kaua‘i. My wife is my inspiration and my best friend. She convinces me every day that I can be a better human.”
Dandurand said his stepson Alexander Scholfield lives in Oahu, while his other stepson Benjamin Scholfield lives in Lawai and works part-time for him as a DJ. His oldest stepson, Thomas Engles, lives in Vanuatu, an island country of the South Pacific.
Although Dandurand credits his strengths to his mom, its been tough on his family when his mom was diagnosed with dementia eight years ago, and his father has been her caretaker ever since.
“The last time we saw them was right before the pandemic in February,” Dandurand said. “We use to go every month in Oahu before the pandemic, to help take care of them but now we stay connected with my siblings and my parents by Zoom every week.”
Dandurand said his father was raised old school.
“He taught us to work hard, pay your dues, get married, have kids, and take care of your family,” Dandurand said.
Dandurand said if he is elected he would ask three questions when sitting at his desk.
“The three questions that I will ask while in the office: is it right, is it fair, and is it good for the people of Kaua‘i?” Dandurand said in confidence. “That is really the only three questions I need to ask, and once that’s answered then I will know what direction to go. I don’t have any connections to anyone, my only connection is to take care of the island.”