Yukimura will not
challenge Baptiste

LIHUE » Kauai County Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura announced yesterday that she will not run for Kauai mayor in 2006, instead seeking re-election for a second consecutive term and her sixth overall since 1976.

Yukimura, who also served as Kauai mayor from 1988 to 1994, said she called the news conference in Council chambers to dispel rumors of a possible mayoral and House of Representative race. She said she wouldn't run if Kauai's current mayor, Bryan Baptiste, seeks a second term.

Baptiste said yesterday that he will announce his re-election bid at a rally within the next two weeks.

Yukimura cited personal reasons and a "commitment to finish the work I have started at the Council level" as reasons for her decision.

"While I am not running for mayor at this time, I am not stepping back, either," she said.

Yukimura -- while praising Baptiste's "many competent Cabinet members" who "are making progress in addressing some of Kauai's needs and problems," including drug rehabilitation, the coastal path and the rehabilitation of sewer systems -- did take some shots at the current mayor.

"Sometimes people are being hired or promoted for political reasons rather than competency," she said.

In her remarks, Yukimura indirectly referred to county Planning Director Ian Costa, saying her most pressing concern with Baptiste's administration has been the "lack of effective planning by the Planning Department," adding that "there are many good people in the Planning Department, but it needs leadership -- extraordinary leadership."

She added that the mayor's progress on establishing a new landfill and finding a site has been "terribly slow," and the Agency for Elderly Affairs has been under-planned.

As for issues she hopes to address at the county level, Yukimura cited vacation rental, affordable housing and shoreline protection legislation.

Currently, the only official mayoral candidate is Jesse Fukushima, a former County Council member in the 1980s and 1990s who announced his candidacy late last month.

County of Kauai

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