A host of candidates at Kaua'i Chamber of Commerce mayor's lunch – The Garden Island

A host of candidates at Kaua'i Chamber of Commerce mayor's lunch – The Garden Island

Friday, July 29, 2022 | Today’s Paper | shower rain 81.149°

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Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island
Gather Federal Credit Union CEO and president Tess Shimabukuro, sponsors of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Luncheon, welcomes guests to the sold-out event, Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.
Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island
Mark Perriello and Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami get the help of a big-screen television set, Wednesday during the Chamber of Commerce’s Mayor’s Luncheon sponsored by Gather Federal Credit Union at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.
Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island
Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami fields a question from the audience as Mark Perriello of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce moderates, Wednesday during the Chamber’s Mayor’s Luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.
Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island
Koa Kea Red Salt executive chef Noelani Planas talks with Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i’s executive chef Gregoy Grohowski about the rainbow salad being unveiled, Wednesday during the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i.
Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island
Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami gets his photo taken with Michelle Emura, chair of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, and Lt. Governor candidate Sherry Menor-McNamara, Wednesday during the Kaua‘i Chamber’s Mayor’s Luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.

PO‘IPU — Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Executive Chef Gregory Grohowski was Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami’s good friend Wednesday, when Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce President Mark Perriello announced that all three desserts on the dessert bar were Kawakami’s favorites.
PO‘IPU — Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Executive Chef Gregory Grohowski was Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami’s good friend Wednesday, when Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce President Mark Perriello announced that all three desserts on the dessert bar were Kawakami’s favorites.
“You have to get photos of the salad when we undo the covers,” Grohowski said while watching the crowd of more than 200 people get swallowed by the Kaua‘i Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i. “It’s like a rainbow explosion, and the people are going to hit this hard.”
Kaleo Carvalho, the Mayor’s protocol officer, said Mayor Kawakami loves Oreo cookies, one of the ingredients in the trio of dessert offerings, Oreo Cheesecake with Oreo Crust.
Perriello noted that this is an election year, and the audience boasted a host of candidates for various offices, including Ikaika Anderson who had to leave early due to an evening commitment on O‘ahu; Rep. Sylvia Luke who was escorted by Rep. Nadine Nakamura; and Michelle Emura, the chair of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee, escorting Sherry Menor-McNamara to the luncheon sponsored by Gather Federal Credit Union that boasts a membership of more than 37,000 members.
Mufi Hannemann of the Hawai‘i Lodging &Tourism Association joined Kaua‘i Charity Walk leaders Samira Siale, the Kaua‘i Chapter director of the HLTA, Dan King, and Claudia Dowdy were pitching an Aug. 20 event that will take place at the Vidinha Stadium soccer fields.
“It’s been so long since we’ve been together like this,” said Lynette Medrano-Stine of the Kaua‘i United Way. “We’re planning on doing the 2023 Campaign Launch here later in August.”
Mayor Kawakami, with his wife Monica and daughter Hailee, had ample time to meet guests that ranged from student interns to corporate leaders, pockets of discussions ranging from the landfill to climate change filling the air before the question-and-answer format presentation moderated by Perriello.
“I see Aloun Farms is here with Stephanie Iona, Josh Uyehara, and others,” Kawakami said. “When it comes to agriculture, it boils down to supporting our farmers. On the county level, our Department of Finance is partnering with the County Council to look at ways to assist farmers when it comes to Ag dedication. The bill proposal eliminates rollback taxes that are very punitive in nature and deter farmer interest in the program. The proposal also eliminates the need for the farmer to record their dedication with the state Bureau of Conveyances.”
“Another idea is the dedication can be canceled at any time by the County of the farmer with no penalty. And the dedicated land will have a 95% discount off its market value. We believe removing these bureaucratic changes improve Ag dedication program and will help farmers thrive.”
This led to a question about why people should make an appointment at the Division of Motor Vehicles.
“Even my daughter Hailee had to make an appointment — actually, I made it for her — when she went in for her real license,” Kawakami said. “While you don’t have to make an appointment to receive service at the DMV, it is definitely recommended. My daughter said it was real quick. We’ve come a long way of improving our service at the DMV. I often work down at the registration counter to get a first-hand experience. During our first 100 days in office, we saw kupuna standing in long lines, and right away we put out chairs and a ticket system so folks could sit down and wait for their number to be called. We are continuing to improve our methods, now with an online appointment reservation system, that if followed, makes service at the DMV relatively seamless.”
On the subject of economic diversification, Kawakami said, “Mahalo to Jackie Kaina and the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board that recently updated its comprehensive economic development strategy. It looks at sectors that are part of our diversified portfolio and continues to thrive those industries, identifying low-hanging fruit that we should be focused on. As government, you may have seen over the past four years that we’ve been focused on infrastructure and Capital Improvement Projects. We know that this has supported a robust building industry providing jobs and contributing to our economy.”
This led to the topic of the Destination Management Action Plan that overlapped with questions on the Lihu‘e Airport Master Plan and concerns about increasing numbers of visitors.
“We all agree we need better balance with tourism and the impacts on our community,” Kawakami said. “We have been working on concepts included in the Destination Management Plan prior to its completion. It started with Sue Kanoho of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau and the visitor industry leaders foreseeing the need to strike a balance. You can go anywhere to find white sandy beaches, but people come to Kaua‘i because of our host culture.”
“The County is working on various initiatives including one for managed parking at our beach parks in Po‘ipu, Black Pot, Lydgate, and Ha‘ena,” the mayor said. “Our Office of Economic Development is looking at alternative transportation solutions to help manage the increasing traffic and vehicles on the island. But before we could move on destination management, we needed to have policies and regulations in place to manage our inventory because what we have now, and what we’ve been dealing with is an inventory control issue. Prior proliferation of vacation rentals outside of our Visitor Destination Area made it next to impossible to identify our carrying capacity. So our Planning Department made a groundbreaking step forward and was able to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with third party hosts AirBnB, VRBO, and Expedia, that they would only advertise legal Transient Vacation Rentals that were in the VDA, or had a current use certificate on their websites. We became the first in the nation to do this, and Kaua‘i led the state as the first county to successfully regulate vacation rentals outside of the VDA.”
With time being a precious commodity, and the need for people to return to work, Kawakami stayed around following the formal presentation to go one-on-one with individual concerns, including the Chamber’s concerns about the Lihu‘e Airport Master Plan, the Chamber’s support for constructing more Electric Vehicle charging stations, and the anti stance on the decommissioning of reservoirs.




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