Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Musings: Rituals

The clouds were on the move and most of them were gray, save for those turned briefly golden as they flew across the moon, when Koko and I took our walk this morning.

The neighbors’ cats skulked across the yard, staking out positions along the little path where the wild chickens emerge at daybreak from the gully where they roost. A rooster came up first, looking around tentatively before hightailing it across the grass, followed by several sets of chicks protected by fierce hens, a few chickless hens and half a dozen more roosters, some of them cautious and some of them crowing.

The cats, and Koko and I, simply took it all in, this daily ritual performed under the soft pink light of dawn.

And in the world of human affairs on Kauai, we’re entering our own little ritual — election season — which has now begun in earnest, following yesterday’s campaign filing deadline.

So who do we have in the line up of County Council hopefuls? Some big Kauai political names — Kawakami, as in Derek, and Thronas, as in George — for starters. With surnames like that, and the political machines that accompany them, they come in to the race with a huge advantage.

Similarly advantaged by virtue of their incumbency alone are current Councilmen Jay Furfuro, Ron Kouchi, Kaipo Asing, Tim Bynum and now Darryl Kaneshiro, who was brought in to fill Kaipo’s seat while he serves as interim mayor and subsequently decided to run again for Council. That was a mighty fine gift the Council presented to Darryl, giving him the edge in a crowded race.

And then we’ve got a whole slew of other people. Most of them don’t have a prayer, but a few look interesting. Among them are Kipukai “Leslie” Kuali‘i, a labor organizer and social activist from Anahola who started out campaigning hard and early, and has a big family to help.

Then there’s Lani Kawahara, the Kapaa librarian and one of five women running — none of them likely to grab a seat. The others are state archaeologist Nancy McMahon, whose candidacy falls into the ‘what in the world are you thinking?’ category because she is so widely reviled for her slack efforts on behalf of the historic sites she is charged with protecting. If elected, it’s unclear whether she’d quit her side job of offering Hummer tours into a Kauai rainforest with historic sites.

Rhoda Libre, who has some good ideas but has never been able to get elected, is running again, along with first-timers Linda Pasadava, a non-denominational minister who performs beach weddings and is former president of the Kilauea Neighborhood Assn., and Christobel Kealoha, who worked with the state AG’s office in Child Protective Services, neither of whom has the name recognition needed to win.

Mr. Wala`au — Dickie Chang — has the name recognition, but probably not enough to secure a Council seat, especially when coupled with his lack of qualifications, although that hasn't stopped some folks from getting elected.

Rounding out the pack of not-too-likely to win are Bob Bartolo, a businessman who has been active with Rotary and Kapaa traffic issues and started the Coconut Festival, former mayoral candidates Bruce Pleas and John Hoff, Ron Agor, a failed Republican candidate for state house who serves as our rep on the Board of Land and Natural Resources, Harry Kaneakua, Ken Taylor and Scott Mijares. Oh, and let’s not forget Bob Cariffe, the perennial angry candidate.

It’s good to see some new names on the ballot, although I dobut we’ll see any real changes on the Council. Yes, we have three puka to fill, with Mel Rapozo and JoAnn Yukimura taking on Bernard Carvalho for mayor, and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who turned out to support Mel’s candidacy, running unopposed for prosecutor.

But with five incumbents well-positioned, and Derek Kawakami pretty much assured of victory, that leaves just one seat that’s really up for grabs.

I heard Jimmy Torrio, a former Council candidate himself, talking on the radio yesterday about how he thinks we might see some shake ups because the demographics of Kauai have changed — in other words, they've gotten more white. It’s true, they have, but that alone doesn’t mean that any mainland haole candidates have a chance.

Many haoles who have moved to Kauai are Republicans, some don’t actually live here enough to consider this their primary voting place and others simply don’t go to the polls. Just check out the voting returns for the North Shore, that bastion of new whiteness, and you’ll see that district has one of the lowest voter turnouts on the island.

I hate to discourage anyone, what with some folks feeling a glimmer of hope about this campaign season, but it seems most likely to me that come Election Day, it’s gonna be a lot of the same old-same old. Two decades of following politics on Kauai has taught me that familiarity breeds election, even though voters may articulate contempt.

Still, when I go into the voting booth I’ll be casting my Council ballot for the underdogs and fresh faces, just as I always do. It's my little subversive ritual, because hope, at least in my heart, springs eternal.


Anonymous said...

Nancy McMahon, might be "widely reviled" among a small circle of people, but island-wide she's hardly reviled at all. Most don't know who she is or what a state archeologist even does. And if they did know, many would likely disagree with your assessment that her job performance has been "slack."

Anonymous said...

If it's "unclear whether Nancy McMahon would quit her side job of offering Hummer tours into a Kauai rainforest with historic sites" isn't it also unlcear whether Kipukai “Leslie” Kuali‘i would quit his job as a labor organizer and social activist, or whether Lani Kawahara would quit her job as the Kapaa librarian, or whether Linda Pasadava would quit her job as a non-denominational minister?

Or are you just being snarky because "Hummer tours into a Kauai rainforest with historic sites" offends your sensibilities?

Anonymous said...

Aren't we all cynics? Two incumbants have shown a calm,reasonable approach to governing and accomplished some good things. Not all incumbants are so bad!

Anonymous said...

2 out of 7.

Yukimura is ill prepared to point of looking clueless most of the time.

Kouchi is an arrogant pig with a reputation for being as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

Rapozo-- lacked ethics when a cop. What's changed?

Asing -- 100% effort to back old money/power structure. Cadillac driver until the election when the old truck gets a tune up.

Iseri-Carvalho -- as nasty as they come.

the other 2 are decent guys.

Hopefully we can agree on a few decent folk to fill the open slots, not just one more member of the Japanese business community working to protect their little group.

Anonymous said...

...and no more fat, pink, sweaty haole liberals, either.

Anonymous said...

... or fat pink sweaty haole conservatives

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:44:

you rock.

Anonymous said...

Christobel Kealoha certainly has name recognition with plenty of locals. She was involved in local politics for years once serving as Chairperson of the Democratic Party. She is also a musician and hails from a large west side family. She is a class act projecting competence and aloha.

Anonymous said...

Nothing changes in the grand scope of things.

Like The Who said:

"Here comes the new boss, just like the old boss."

Anonymous said...

easy to make nasty. serves no great purpose. maybe we have to high expectations for our legislators and government in general. maybe we should look to ourselves for rescue from the problems we help to create.
politicians and elections are overated. hardy ever do they rise above it all and accomplish something of significance. took baptiste to die before he got any respect(and even then his legacy is questionable).

Anonymous said...

I prefer thin, tanned, dry haole developers.

Anonymous said...

Whomever we elect will face challenges that are definitely beyond the abilities of the current council and administration. Pray for a miracle!