LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Kauai, county Councilman and former State Rep. Derek Kawakami dominated the race for mayor — and he’s already getting to work on his new job.
Not even 24 hours after his election party at the Kauai Veterans Center in Lihue ended, the mayor-elect met with current Mayor Bernard Carvalho for several hours Wednesday to discuss transition plans and ongoing county projects.
"I know that many of the projects we started will continue, and new things will come with the energy and support that Derek Kawakami and his team has. He will take it to the next level," said Carvalho.
Kawakami is inheriting a handful of issues, not least of which include a housing crisis and the island’s traffic problems. Parts of Kauai are also still recovering from the recent flooding disasters.
"That first 100 days, we're going to be assembling a great cabinet. We have a number of policies and appropriations we're going to be asking the legislature for, and we're going to be looking at our county budget," said Kawakami.
Kawakami believes his private-sector experience and time as a former state house representative will benefit Kauai.
"I grew up in the grocery store, I grew up in the grocery business. My time at the state legislature, I've been able to build so many great relationships with our fellow senators and representatives, and those types of relationships are going to help Kauai," said Kawakami.
After the final printout, Kawakami walked away with more than 65 percent of the vote, securing the seat being vacated by Carvalho, who is terming out after 10 years in office.
Council chairman Mel Rapozo trailed behind, with 31 percent of the votes.
This election was a significant one for Kauai and marks the next chapter in politics on the island.
Residents have their first new mayor in a decade.
And with both Kawakami and Rapozo running for the office, as well as councilwoman and former mayor JoAnn Yukimura (who did not make it out of the primary), that left three open spots on the seven-member county council.