After the deadline for filing papers to run for political office had passed, a friend sent me a text:
Woohoo neither Shaylene [Iseri] or Kaipo [Asing] filed.
To which I replied:
It says something when you can get more excited about who isn't running than who is.
Prompting my friend to respond:
Ain't that the truth. I can't think of anyone in this current slate that I'm EXCITED about.
There's certainly no shortage of candidates, with a whopping 20 County Council candidates, three people seeking the mayor's chair and all the state House reps facing challengers.
Yet as Auntie Maria Hickling so astutely observed:
Why is it that all salaried/hourly County jobs have specific "minimum education / work experience" requirements for hiring -- yet our elected offices do not? Sadly, Kaua`i elections are nothing more than a "People's Choice" contest for the most part...sigh...
Excellent point. Some people keep clamoring for a county manager, but why not start with some basic candidate qualifications, like high school diploma and at least one term on a board or commission to show voters you have some sense of how government actually works?
Though the list of candidates is lengthy, that's no guarantee of change. A crowded field tends to favor incumbents, and they're all up for another go.
Still, aside from Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa, who I already predicted are shoo-ins — Mel, because he managed to remain in good favor with the “red shirts,” despite voting against the pesticide/GMO regulatory Bill 2491, and Ross because he has a remarkably solid base of local, grassroots donors that spans the west and east sides — I think some of the incumbents are going to meet with resistance.
I know a lot of us were disappointed to see Council Chair Jay Furfaro run yet again, just like it was a little shocking to see the headline, “JoAnn Yukimura seeks 10th term on County Council.” Cause sometimes, it's like, mahalo for all your service, but 'nuff already.
In a recent video speech, Councilman Gary Hooser asserted that the chem/seed companies will be gunning for him, Tim Bynum and Mason Chock because they supported Bill 2491. Funny, JoAnn and Jay also voted for that bill, yet somehow they're not part of the “in-crowd.”
It apparently never occurred to Gary that voters might have their own reasons not to cast ballots for those three: Gary for his disingenuousness, political pandering and divisiveness; Tim for his whining and $290,000 payout from the county, and Mason for the sadly shady way he got appointed to the Council to override the mayor's veto of 2491. As I previously reported:
Mason Chock, who was chosen yesterday to complete Nadine Nakamura's Council term, said citizens had expressed “discontent” to him about the process that led to his appointment. The Council, after saying last week it would take the veto override vote without a seventh member, abruptly changed course on Thursday when it became clear it didn't have five votes for an override.
Most of the other candidates are facing serious name recognition issues, aside from former Councilman KipuKai Kualii, Police Chief Darryl Perry, Aryl Kaneshiro, whose father, Daryl, was a longtime Councilman, and Dylan Hooser, son of the aforementioned Gary.
Though it's tempting to vote for someone based on name recognition alone, I urge people to take some time to really understand where the candidates stand on issues. And this includes looking at who they are as people, as well as their ability to actually implement the proposals they favor.
I'd like to close by directing you to Luke Evslin's always excellent blog, Ka Wae, which is published monthly. In his most recent post, he encourages folks to dig deep, especially in the mayor's race, where surfer/MMA fighter Dustin Barca is squaring off against the Mayor:
Gandhi famously wrote that “the pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one’s opponent.” Barca’s candidacy is currently painted as a protest against Mayor Carvalho. And there are many who will vote for him solely because of that. But, in order to have a realistic shot at winning, he needs to do more to separate himself from any threats of violence, aggression, and conspiracy theories. Most importantly, he needs to make this a campaign about finding real solutions to our gravest systemic issues.
As George Orwell stated, we have three agents of social change: politics, violence, and education. On Kaua’i, we now have a clear choice between two of those three: politics or violence.
In the same way that I hope that Barca can move beyond the rhetoric of violence that often defined the anti-GMO movement, I hope that Mayor Carvalho sees the inherent anger and disenfranchisement of the Barca campaign as a wake-up call to move beyond back-room politics. Barca has identified some of the problems, can Carvalho do any better in identifying solutions?
Quite frankly, I don't have much hope that either will change their ways. Which leads me to another quote that Luke posted:
“If you hate violence and don’t believe in politics, the only major remedy remaining is education.”
Yeah. I think I'll go with door #3. And not the fake kine education you so often get on social media or KKCR talk shows, but the real thing, where people actually discuss and debate ideas and issues, learn from history, understand civics and see the value of looking at and considering the bigger picture, rather than taking "with us or against us" stances and spouting overly simplistic “solutions” that only make things worse.