A kind and thoughtful North Shore woman called me a week before the election, feeling really sad about how Dustin Barca's mayoral candidacy was playing out.
He's not a thug, she told me. He's got a good heart, and all the kids look up to him. If only he'd reached out a year ago to folks who were politically akamai, learned the ropes, better understood the process, perhaps things would have turned out differently, better.
As we talked, I felt myself soften a bit toward Dustin. Yes, he is an uneducated young'un — though not so young that age can excuse everything — and perhaps he harbored a few regrets that his impulsive “all you corrupt fukas, this shit's over, I'm running for mayor already!” launched him on a very public, and often unsympathetic, campaign trail.
“He must be relieved he didn't win,” a friend observed. “ I think he's pretty much anti-social. Anybody who can get in a ring and beat the shit out of somebody isn't much of a people person. Every time I saw him on the campaign trail, he looked very uncomfortable.”
I don't think any of us who understand government could imagine Dustin actually showing up to work at the Round Building every day, or regularly putting in the 14-to-16-hour shifts that are typical for the mayor and his top staff. Being mayor involves a lot of tedium, paperwork, drudgery and brutal hours.
Still, if Dustin was seriously interested in politics, he likely could've won a seat on the Council. That would have been a good way to learn how politics and government actually work. But going straight for mayor — on a mission from God, no less — displayed a level of egoism that doesn't quite jibe with public service. Just look at Councilman Gary Hooser.
It was hard not to think, as Dustin secured a Fightland video, coverage in Surfer and other national magazines and an RVCA sponsorship, that he was using the campaign primarily to promote himself and his sponsors.
Dustin also made a big mistake in believing he was running against Syngenta, BASF, Dow and Dupont-Pioneer, when his actual opponent was Bernard Carvalho Jr., a local boy, a Native Hawaiian with a lot of supporters and many years in public service.
And despite all of Dustin's talk about love, his admonitions to “keep it respectful,” the reality has played out quite a bit differently. His campaign lacked any of the traditional decorum, employing disrespectful social media memes, defacing road signs and public property, stealing and destroying opponents' signs and banners.
He never called Mayor Bernard, the hands-down victor, to offer his congratulations on election night, never gave a concession speech. Instead, all we got was more shouting bravado in an “I'm gonna take my marbles and go home” rant on Instagram:
"Arming and farming?"
Still, Dustin is absolutely right when he says folks need to come together as communities to take care of their problems themselves. That's why I feel a little sick every time I think of how he and Council candidate Felicia Cowden blew $110,000 on their ego-driven runs — neither had a prayer of getting elected — when that time, energy and money could've been spent actually doing something to help the North Shore, which is the only place they had any solid support.
If Dustin still wants to pursue politics, he needs an education in civics and effective campaign strategy. If he wants to be a role model for the kids, let's hope he first gets some mentoring in basic courtesy, respect and good sportsmanship — all of which are missing from his latest sore loser post:
Btw, Dustin, you didn't get 40 percent. You got 34 percent of the 57 percent of the registered voters who cast ballots. So don't be getting a swell head.
I finally had a chance to check out the precinct reports, which start on page 235 and tell an interesting story. It's no surprise that Dustin Barca, Felicia Cowden, Gary Hooser, Mason Chock, Tim Bynum and even Jay Furfaro did well in Hanalei and Kilauea, stronghold of the anti-GMO “red shirts” brigade. Arryl Kaneshiro, Darryl Perry and Arthur Brun, all perceived as pro-GMO, had an abysmal showing there
In Anahola, things started to change. Mayor Carvalho emerged victorious there, and Dustin never again prevailed.
Continuing around the island, the anti-GMO candidates got mixed results in Kapaa, dropped again in Lihue and Hanamaulu, rallied a bit in Koloa, then steadily faded through the westside, where Felicia was dead last in Waimea.
Though we keep hearing the anti-GMO folks deny the island is divided, the precinct tallies prove otherwise. They also make a very good case against districting. We need candidates who can represent the entire island, not just their echo-chamber.