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Kaua‘i council candidates make their closing statements

LIHU‘E — The Garden Island asked the 14 County Council candidates to submit closing statements ahead of the mailing of ballots on Oct. 19.

Twelve responded.

Addison Bulosan, 35, is a Lihu‘e chiropractor.

“First off, I can’t thank enough our community for working on all the challenges we’ve been facing together. Regardless if I get in or not, I’ll work on the solutions that our community needs. I believe that’s what sets me apart and allows me to find the resources for us to get things moving forward. We are in a unique situation where we need a strong core of councilmembers who work together in leveraging opportunities for our community. My background as a Kaua‘i-born-and-raised health care practitioner, business owner and community organizer allows me to bring together solutions from many points of view. Mahalo, again. It’s an honor and privilege to be part of this community.”

Lila Balmores-Metzger, 42, is a Kalaheo resident, fitness and dance instructor and small business owner.

“It’s time for change. If we think we are going to get different results doing things the same way, we are only fooling ourselves. My main interest in this position is to provide opportunities for local families and businesses to thrive and to ensure our keiki have a hope-filled future. I will work hard to direct the county back to what it should be focused on, which is infrastructure, economic diversity and land preservation. I will not stand for another mask mandate on our keiki, and I will be a voice for the people.”

Fern Anuenue Holland, 38, is a Kapahi resident, environmental scientist and community organizer.

“Born and raised in Kapahi, I understand the issues that matter to local families. I want a thriving future for the next generation. I will work hard for local people to afford to live and stay here, in a community that values our keiki’s growth, provides activities and access to our places and resources. I will fight for a community that is not inundated with drug abuse, extractive mismanaged tourism, excessive traffic, crumbling infrastructure and a lack of opportunity, where more money from tourism ends up in the hands of the local families and we don’t have to work two to three jobs to survive.”

Billy DeCosta, 57, is an ‘Oma‘o resident councilmember since 2020 and Kapa‘a High School building and construction teacher.

“I humbly would like to ask our residents for one of your seven votes. I am an honest, hardworking, common-sense politician. I don’t take any campaign donations, no lobbyist controls my decisions, and I take care of our local community. A few accomplishments:
Tree-exempt bill that no longer lets large tree farmers pay zero taxes for 25 years; a resolution to amend the language in our reserve fund to include affordable housing; voted to take 2 percent of our real property tax to go into affordable housing; an ag bill that will incentivize food sustainability and take away gentleman farming and ranching.

Nelson Mukai, 58, is a Wailua resident and school teacher.

“Born and raised on Kaua‘i, I love the people, culture and land. After working in California for 20 years, I’m so grateful to be back home. I’m a leader by example and I believe it’s God’s calling to run for politics. I have a BA degree in political science from UH-Manoa. I’m not a career politician, however. As a substitute teacher and coach at Kapa‘a High School, I know that education and youth sports positively impact future generations and our communities. Building our next generation on Kaua‘i will be the focus of my service to the island.”

KipuKai Kuali‘i, 60, is an Anahola resident, member of the County Council and director of operations at the YWCA of Kaua‘i.

“Aloha! I humbly ask for one of your seven council votes so I may continue fighting to protect and improve our quality of life. As your councilmember for over six years now, I have been hardworking, thoughtful and trustworthy. I’ve also demonstrated my unwavering dedication to public service, extensive legislative policy experience, strength with budgeting, and understanding of the issues that matter to Kaua‘i. I am committed to always doing my homework — listening carefully and working collaboratively. The deep aloha I have for our people and our islands motivates me to always do my best for you. Mahalo nui loa!”

Felicia Cowden, 59, is a fulltime councilmember and Kilauea resident.

“I work to protect our people’s ability to stay on Kaua‘i, be safely housed and employed with meaningful work. I understand the challenges faced by our residents through my decades of community advocacy on Kaua‘i and my experiences in small business, engineering, education and two terms on council. I have fulltime availability to study the policy proposals and engage with people across our communities to build solutions. I show up, listen and ask the hard questions necessary to create change. I work with integrity.”

Luke Evslin, 37, is a Lihu‘e resident, business owner, teacher and councilmember.

“If reelected, I will continue to work with the community to solve the housing crisis by following five principles: increase the supply of homes while following the principles of our General Plan to preserve ag land, while minimizing traffic; reduce barriers for families to add rental units to their existing homes; incentivize infill development and multifamily housing construction in Lihu‘e; discourage vacant investment homes and vacation rentals by increasing property taxes on them; use the revenue raised from those taxes to increase funding and support for affordable housing.”

Bernard Carvalho, 60, is a Kapa‘a resident and councilmember.

“Aloha! I’m Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. and I am running for reelection on the Kaua‘i County Council. Upon completing my first term in office and working alongside my fellow councilmembers, I look forward to continuing to bring critical issues and concerns to the table. I bring 17 years as a civil servant, six years as a department head and 10 years as mayor of the County of Kaua‘i and Ni’ihau. I’m committed to making the tough decisions based on the voice of the people, sharing my gift of working collaboratively in finding solutions and building relationships that will bring resources back home. I humbly ask once again for your continued support in this upcoming election.”

Roy Saito, 64, is a Lihu‘e resident and president of Gold Express Inc.

“With decades of experience as a community servant, as a small business owner, as a resident and as a father and grandparent, I recognize the struggles, hopes and potential for the people of Kaua‘i. I want to work for you. With a common-sense approach, we need to create more living-wage jobs, diversify our industries, support small business, improve our schools, remove gridlock and overreach in government, and make housing for residents a top priority. I know what it takes to find solutions, be fiscally responsible, navigate the complicated red tape and get things done.”

Ross Kagawa, 56, is a Lihu‘e resident and special education teacher.

“I humbly ask for your consideration for one of your seven votes for Kaua‘i County Council. If elected, I will work hard to address all of the issues that face the people of Kaua‘i County, like solid waste, roads and bridges, parks, affordable housing and our economy. I have the experience with my eight years previously served and a track record of solving problems facing our county. Good luck and best wishes to all candidates who are running for office.

Rachel Secretario, 40, is a Kapa‘a resident, financial planner with Secretario, LLC and part-time art teacher and substitute teacher at Kapa‘a Elementary School.

“I am from The Garden Island, for The Garden Island! I was born and raised on Kaua‘i. Serving as a County Council member would provide a way to give back to the community that raised me. I went to Kapa‘a Elementary, Kapa‘a Middle, and Kapa‘a High School. I attended KCC and the University of Hawai‘i to receive my political science degree. I am currently the PTA president for Kapa‘a Elementary School and am enrolled in the class of 2023 for Leadership Kaua‘i. I have energy, a positive mindset and a passion to engage in this community to help Kaua‘i thrive.

Mel Rapozo, 57, a Wailua resident and special investigator, and Shirley Simbre-Medeiros, 70, a Kekaha resident and semi-retired school bus driver, did not respond to The Garden Island’s request for closing comments.

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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