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Saturday, September 30, 2000




Seeking better education,
roads for ‘have-nots’

Waianae access road may lead to House seat

By Rod Ohira

DISTRICT 43 Democratic incumbent Michael Kahikina describes himself as a "community assets coordinator."

Candidates "I try to look at all the assets and bring partnerships into a collective vision," said Kahikina, who is seeking a fourth term as the state House representative for Barbers Point-Maili-Nanakuli-Waianae.

But Republican challenger Denton Kissell, who lost to Kahikina by more than 2,600 votes in 1998, is calling for a "new attitude."

"Enough is enough," said 36-year-old Kissell, vice president of Specialties Hawaii construction. "Our district is always being left out on projects and money.

"Our schools are far behind. Look at Maili Elementary; it's falling apart. The attitude is, 'we didn't get it this year, maybe next year,' and I think we shouldn't take it anymore."

Nanakuli native Kahikina, 50, is administrator of the Boys and Girls Club in Waianae and Nanakuli. His campaign is focusing on education and the singular roadway access problem along the Waianae Coast.

"I'm concerned that of the sixth-grade population in Waianae, only 50 percent are going to graduate in six years," said Kahikina, who started a second-chance alternative high school diploma program three years ago for dropouts.

"We had 29 kids, 16-18 years old, this year that couldn't read at the third-grade level. We need to look at the method of teaching because of our low reading skills in Hawaii. Kids are being taught by the whole-language method, and to me, it's not as effective as phonetics."

Kahikina is also pledging to complete a study on an alternate road for the Waianae Coast.

Kissell, a Philadelphia native who moved to Hawaii 10 years ago, said 11 people have been killed on Farrington Highway this year, and the safety of the roadway needs immediate attention.

"If you come down to our area, you can see the differences between the haves and have-nots," Kissell said in comparing improvements in Kapolei to his district.

Waianae access road
may pave the way to
House seat

By Rod Ohira

VOTERS from Waianae to Makaha consider Farrington Highway to be the main drag to a state House seat in District 44.

It may boil down to which candidate -- incumbent Republican Rep. Emily Auwae, Democrat Merwyn Jones or Momi Kamahele of the Aloha 'Aina Party -- voters feel can best fast-forward a solution for an alternate access road along the Waianae Coast.

Candidates Farrington Highway was closed for long periods twice this year.

In January, a police standoff with Dominic Kealoha halted traffic for nearly 24 hours. A broken water main in May paralyzed traffic for about four hours.

The city has started working on a short-term solution by connecting mauka side streets.

Auwae, 57, who retired from Bank of Hawaii and defeated two-term incumbent Jones by fewer than 50 votes in 1998, says she's working on solutions for an alternate road and for making Farrington Highway safer.

"I'm continuing some of the work Jones didn't finish, like the mauka highway," she said. "We know it won't happen tomorrow or maybe even 10 years from now. There's no room.

"I'm also concerned about safety on the highway. We have 29 traffic lights from Honokai Hale to Makaha and that hasn't made it safer. I'm working with the Department of Transportation and police to see what we can do to improve the situation."

Jones, 62, who retired as executive director of the state Office of Community Service before successfully running for Peter Apo's seat in 1994, says knowing how to find funding is his big advantage.

That comes from 29 years of state government experience as a budget analyst, deputy director of Hawaiian Home Lands and deputy director of Human Services, he said.

About $1 million was available for a study on a bypass road, Jones said, but the time elapsed on the funding after the last election "because no one followed up."

"I have a track record to getting funds for projects," Jones said, pointing to the $3.25 million for road improvements near Makaha Surfing Beach.

"When you look at priorities, you got to look at funding. Highway funds is from gasoline tax money and is different from general funds, which is money from general-excise tax. So you need to know where to look for project funds."

First-time candidate Kamahele, 52, is a Kapiolani Community College professor and academic advisor for Hawaiian Studies at UH-Manoa.

"The city is currently connecting dots on the mauka back roads but the community has to decide whether it wants a freeway and if it does, we just have to do it," Kamahele said. "We've been talking about it already for two decades.

"I believe in the power of one, which is why every person in our district needs to know they can make a difference."

Kamahele is counting on the fact that voters in her district do not necessarily vote traditional party lines. "They tend to vote for who the person is or what he or she stands for," she said.

Auwae, who served on the Judiciary, Hawaiian Affairs and Tourism committees, says one of the major accomplishments of her first term was getting funding to keep the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center's emergency room open.

All the candidates will try to get more funding for drug rehab programs on the Waianae Coast.

"Drugs are so bad on the Waianae Coast and there's just no money for enough programs," Jones said.

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