This is the second-to-last installment in our series of candidate profiles, which will culminate in endorsements before the September 18 primary. This week, we look at the three County Council contests that feature more than two candidates.
Name: Don Couch
Profile: In 2008, Couch lost a tight, contentious race against Nishiki by less than 4 percent. Couch served in the Arakawa Administration as an Executive Assistant to the Mayor and as Deputy Planning Director, and currently works as an IT manager. He promises to “bring more openness, more honesty and more common sense to the South Maui seat,” to “make it easier for our small businesses to make a legitimate living, which will allow them to grow and provide much-needed jobs” and to work toward “food and energy self-sufficiency on Maui.”
Web site: Doncouch.com
Name: Wayne Nishiki
Profile: Nishiki has been part of Maui’s, and Hawaii’s, political landscape for more than 30 years, first running for Lieutenant Governor in 1978. He served a 10-year stint on the County Council before terming out in 2004, and won his seat back in 2008 in a hard-fought contest against Couch. After the election, revelations that he’d accepted a $100,000 loan from developer Everett Dowling while out of office did damage to his credibility and no-strings-attached image. Yet his voting record and style have remained unchanged—he’s still a favorite of the environmental crowd and a reliably independent, sometimes combative voice on the Council.
Web site: Electwaynenishiki.com
Name: Norman Vares
Profile: Vares also ran for this seat in 2008, finishing third out of four candidates with just over 8 percent of the vote. A retired plumbing contractor, he lists affordable housing, water (he supports desalination), “eliminating government waste” and promoting local agriculture as among his top priorities.
Web site: Normanvares.com
Name: Mary Cochran
Profile: A member of the state Board of Education, Cochran says she’s running “to be a voice of reason on the County Council.” She says her focus is on “affordable housing, developing water sources, expanding public transportation and restructuring property taxes so long-time residents are not overburdened.”
Web site: Marycochran.org
Name: Kai Nishiki
Profile: Nishiki challenged incumbent Mike Molina in 2008, losing by a wide margin, but is trying again now that term limits have pushed Molina aside. The daughter of Wayne, Nishiki shares her father’s environmental focus—and political ambitions. “I want to be a voice for other young families like my own, who work hard and dream of a future that includes jobs we can count on, housing we can afford and a safe, clean community,” she says. “As a volunteer community leader, I am already working to improve conditions in my district and our county.”
Web site: Kainishiki.com
Name: Leona Bak Nomura
Profile: Owner of the Ku‘au Mart, Nomura says she “will make no promises” but is motivated by her 22 grandchildren and “love and passion for these islands” to “preserve, protect and serve for the betterment of us all.”
Web site: Electleona.com
Name: Mike White
Profile: Other than a five-year stint in the state House from 1993 to 1998, White has spent his career in the visitor industry. He’s currently the general manager of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, a position he’s held since 1985. He describes himself as “pro-business, pro-environment and dedicated to cultural preservation” and says he has “the compassion and balanced perspective necessary to make informed and effective policy decisions.”
Web site: Mikewhiteforcouncil.com
Name: Su Campos
Profile: Campos has served on various boards and committees and ran for the West Maui seat in 1994. She says she’s running again because of her “passion for the working class” and her “never-ending concerns for the lack infrastructure in West Maui.”
Web site: Unknown
Name: Eve Clute
Profile: “As a doctor of public health, and professor in environmental sciences, I teach evidence-based practices to assess, plan, implement and evaluate policies and programs,” says Clute. She says she’d tap into federal funds available for small businesses, increase government efficiency through consolidation and make “jobs, homes, health and aloha” her top priorities.
Web site: Clute4council.weebly.com
Name: Elle Cochran
Profile: A small business owner who lives “off the grid” in Honolua Valley, Cochran says that “our environment is our economy” and promises to bring “sensible and accessible government back to the people of Maui County.” She’s a founder of the Save Honolua Coalition, a founding member of Faith Action for Community Equity Maui and president of Maui Unite!
Web site: Electelle.com
Name: Alan Fukuyama
Profile: Fukuyama challenged popular incumbent Jo Anne Johnson in 2008 and lost by almost 10,000 votes. Now, with Johnson termed out, he’s facing a much more crowded field. Fukuyama didn’t respond to our candidate questionnaire and we couldn’t find an official campaign Web site, but earlier this month he told the Lahaina News that, as an account executive, he brings “a consultative approach to solving problems” and that he wants to “bring Maui back to the prominent vacation destination it has always been.”
Web site: Unknown
Name: Zeke Kalua
Profile: Kalua has extensive nonprofit experience, most recently as Executive Director of the West Maui Taxpayers Association. According to his bio, he served on the Mayor’s West Maui Advisory Committee from 2003-’06 and was an Executive Assistant in the Mayor’s office from 2005-’08. He lists infrastructure, affordable housing and maintaining social services among his key issues.
Web site: Zekekalua.com
Name: Ke‘eaumoku Kapu
Profile: A taro farmer who serves on numerous Native Hawaiian boards including the Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council and the Maui/Lanai Islands Burial Council, Kapu says he has “always been an advocate towards land and ocean environmental issues” and promises to “help empower our community to ask the questions that will lead to a more harmonious future.”
Web site: Unknown
Name: Paul Laub
Profile: The president of the Maui County Veterans Council, Laub says Maui “could be in much greater economic shape if it wasn’t for County-imposed restrictions.” He cites “permitting agencies [that] are exceedingly notorious for their poor permitting processes and are in desperate need of a makeover,” and says “hundreds of jobs are currently held up due to the status quo.”
Web site: Paullaub.com