New Maui mayor
James Apana, 36, vows to stimulateBy Gary Kubota
construction by revamping
the property tax system
WAILUKU -- Maui County Mayor-elect James "Kimo" Apana says once he takes office, he plans to restructure the property tax system to stimulate a slumping construction industry.
Apana said he wants to give special tax exemptions to property owners who expand their businesses, residences and hotels.
Apana, 36, described as a visionary by some Democrats, will become the youngest Maui County mayor in the past 50 years when he assumes office on Jan. 2.
His predecessor, Linda Lingle, was 37 when she was first elected mayor eight years ago.
Apana, a three-time Council member who defeated Republican Alan Arakawa in the general election yesterday, broke the GOP's 20-year control of the Maui mayor's office.
During the election, Arakawa criticized Apana as being too young for the job.
Democratic state Sen. Joseph Tanaka said Apana's youthfulness is an advantage because he is able to offer a fresh view.
"With Kimo there's a new vision," Tanaka said.
Apana said as an elected official, when evaluating ideas, it's important to ask whether an action will enhance the lives of Maui's children.
"It's their future," he said.
Some Democrats say they hope Apana will be more willing to tackle other major problems once he's mayor, such as relocation of the Kahului waste-water treatment plant away from a tsunami inundation zone.
"It's not enough to say it's too expensive and just forget about it," said Tom Cannon, who lost to Apana in the Democratic mayoral primary.
Cannon, an architect, said he also hoped Apana will plan to designate a corridor for mass transit and to build a parking structure in Wailuku town to help attract more business activity.
Apana will be working with four new Council members, including Lanai Council member Riki Hokama, son of former Council Chairman Goro Hokama.
Others include Mike Davis, elected to the Kahului seat vacated by Arakawa when he ran for mayor.
Davis served as the state liaison on Maui while Gov. John Waihee was in office and once worked as deputy parks director.
Chiropractor John Enriques, who led the protest against the county's Makawao Highlands development in a rural community, was elected to the Makawao Council seat.
Maui High School teacher Dain Kane defeated real estate agent Carol "Ansai" Ball for the Wailuku Council seat.
Apana said he hasn't promised anyone an appointment to his Cabinet. But he said he does hope his campaign manager, Grant Chun, will take a position in his administration.
Chun, 37, a partner in the law firm Carlsmith Ball, said he is still considering whether to join the Apana administration.
Kusaka critical of
Thronas in victory
The re-elected Kauai mayor saysBy Trish Moore
Thronas ran on 'misinformation'
LIHUE -- It's going to be a new beginning for Kauai, re-elected Mayor Maryanne Kusaka says.
"We've cleaned up the mess and closed the door on (Hurricane) Iniki. We are moving ahead," she said.
Kusaka cited direct flights from Los Angeles and Vancouver, which resumed this year, as indicators of an upswing in Kauai tourism. Kusaka also said Kauai has 850 more jobs than last year.
In her victory speech last night, Kusaka was critical of opponent Mary Thronas' campaign. Republican Kusaka won another four-year term over Democrat Thronas with nearly 60 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan race.
"Our opponent has offered no vision, no program and no serious answers. It was just a systematic and deliberate campaign of misinformation," Kusaka told a crowd of about 700 at her Lihue campaign headquarters. "That's not our style.
"Our children are watching and listening, and it would be a shame if we taught them the wrong thing when it comes to politics," said Kusaka, a former teacher.
"We have taken our record of accomplishment and stuck to the issues. Did you notice that?"
Thronas, in her concession speech, countered Kusaka's complaints about her campaign: "We didn't play dirty. We did the research. Evidently, it goes in one ear and out the other."
Although she declined to debate Kusaka, Thronas began an advertising campaign after the primary election criticizing Kusaka's handling of federal hurricane disaster funds, delays in handling the county's solid-waste program, raising property tax rates and proposed layoffs of government workers.
"It's important that you folks stick to your guns when they want to raise taxes," Thronas told supporters.
As County Council chairwoman, Thronas defeated a 10-cent property tax rate hike sought by the administration.
Thronas had hoped joining forces with popular Council member Kaipo Asing, who finished close behind her in the primary, would help her unseat the incumbent. She had promised to appoint Asing to her top Cabinet post if elected.