Election 2002


Yukimura charming
Kauai voters

Her public image is helped by
her fond rapport with the media

» Mayoral race goes to the wire
» Kauai Charter proposals

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> At a recent Kauai County candidate forum, 13 of the 14 County Council candidates in the at-large, nonpartisan race for all seven seats introduced themselves to the packed house at the Kauai Veterans Center.

The crowd listened politely. There was no applause for any individual candidate, only polite silence in the mammoth, barnlike structure.

The last to speak --since her name begins with a Y, hers also is the last name on the ballot -- was former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura. When she finished her brief introduction, everyone in the audience was clapping.

Even though voters threw her out of office in 1994, Yukimura still enjoys immense popularity and affection on Kauai.

On primary election night in September, one radio station announcing vote counts referred to her as "the lovely JoAnn Yukimura" no less than five times in as many minutes. On an island where many politicians avoid publicity, Yukimura is highly media-friendly, and the local media pay her back in kind.

Deeply wounded by her defeat, Yukimura, a Stanford University-trained attorney, has stayed away from Kauai politics for eight years. Then, in her first comeback attempt in the September primary for Council, she finished second out of 29 candidates running for 14 general election slots. Yukimura was only 284 votes behind perennial champion vote-getter Kaipo Asing, and she is widely expected to be Council chairwoman next year.

In his own way, Asing is every bit as unique as Yukimura, not only on Kauai, but maybe among candidates for any office anywhere.

Asing, a retired telephone company executive, never has spent more than $100 on a Council campaign. He doesn't buy advertisements. He doesn't give press interviews. He does print brochures. He makes exactly one sign and stands alone with it along the island's highways waving at passing motorists. He's been on the Council for 22 years and is a shoo-in for two more.

Most observers expect the top seven in the primary to be the seven winners in the general election.

There is a possibility that former Councilman John Barretto, who finished eighth, could pick off Mel Rapozo, who took the seventh spot, but he would have to gain 625 new supporters, which is a lot in a 14-candidate race in a county as small as Kauai.

But it has happened before and it happened to Rapozo. In 1998 he finished seventh in the primary but eighth in the general.

At-large candidates

William U. Asing*
John F. Barretto
Raymond L. Chuan
Jay J. Furfaro
Daryl W. Kaneshiro*
Rhoda L. Libre
George M. Menor
Ernest Moniz Jr.
Erick T.S. Moon
Maurice A. Munechica
Raymond W. Paler
Melvin F. Rapozo
James K. Tokioka*
JoAnn A. Yukimura

E-mail to City Desk


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