Voters have a diverse roster of candidates from which to choose a new Honolulu City Council representative for Leeward Oahu.
The District 1 council seat is being vacated by Kymberly Pine, who is term-limited after serving eight years on the council and running for mayor.
Andria Tupola is the lone seasoned politician in the race to represent the district, which covers Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Ko Olina, Nanakuli and Waianae. The former Republican state lawmaker from Waianae made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018.
Three of the five candidates — Kathy Davenport, Naomi Hanohano and Galen Kerfoot — are political newcomers with ideas on how to boost government transparency and cut city expenses during a time of extraordinary economic upheaval.
Rounding out the field is Anthony Paris, 39, who has never held office. This marks his second political campaign following a unsuccessful bid in 2018 for an at-large seat on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.
Campaign finance reports show Tupola, who is not backed by any labor unions, has the most campaign cash. She brought in $105,453 during the first half of this year.
Paris raked in the second-highest campaign cash total with $43,800. He is backed by several labor unions, including the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Davenport raised $4,328 this election period. Kerfoot brought in $849. Hanohano did not report raising any contributions.
Tupola, 39, is campaigning on a promise to wrestle down the soaring cost of living that she said is making Hawaii unaffordable for many residents of West Oahu.
To increase affordable housing, Tupola said she wants to quicken the city’s building permit application process. She also wants to boost funding and hire more staff at the Planning and Permitting Department.
If elected, Tupola, who is the executive director of the nonprofit Empower Hawaii, said she wants to give homeless people a bigger voice in figuring out how to reduce homelessness. She said she wants to make financial literacy tools available to homeless communities, along with other health and social services.
Tupola points to her experience tackling city issues as a state lawmaker, when she said she championed new initiatives to promote pedestrian safety and helped secure a city permit to clean up the Ulehawa Canal in Nanakuli.
“I’m a super hands-on person and city issues are like the gritty, dirty stuff that I like to handle,” she said.
Paris, a research analyst for the Iron Workers Stabilization Fund, is running on a platform that calls for business growth, public infrastructure improvements and more affordable and workplace housing options. If elected, he said he will work to help Honolulu recover from the economic blow of COVID-19, according to his campaign website.
Oahu should look beyond the visitor industry for revenue, Paris said, and explore new ways to support industries including home construction, agriculture and renewable energy. If budget cuts are necessary, he said the city should start by trimming council member salaries.
To combat homelessness, Paris said the city should boost funding for mental health services, shelter beds, transitional homes and job training.
Paris — who has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in philosophy and theology, as well as a law degree — is president of the Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club and a board member of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii.
He grew up farming and fishing in Lualualei and Nanakuli and now lives in Kapolei, where he takes care of his mother, a retired janitor and a homemaker, and father, a retired ironworker.
Paris would not agree to an interview for this story.
Davenport, 62, is a small business owner and retired Air Force major from Makakilo. She’s campaigning on a platform to shore up fiscal responsibility in city government.
Reports by city auditors are full of unheeded money-saving recommendations, she said. If elected, Davenport said she would push city departments to implement these action items.
To further cut down on waste, city departments should have to justify their budget quarterly, she said.
Davenport worked for Pine from 2015 to 2017, part of which involved addressing constituent concerns.
She is a motivational speaker, life coach, award-winning fine art photographer and mother of two. She lost her husband to leukemia in 2014 and survived her own battle with cancer in 2015, she said.
Davenport is a member of American Veterans, also known as AMVETS, the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce, the Organization of Women Leaders, Business Network International and the School Community Council for Kapolei Middle School.
“I think with all of these different life experiences that I’ve had I can relate to the public better than any of the other candidates that are running,” Davenport said.
Another political newcomer, Hanohano, joined the race because she said city government should be more transparent, efficient and responsive to citizens.
Hanohano, who is 58 and lives on Hawaiian homestead lands in Nanakuli, is a longtime government employee.
She worked for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply for 15 years before joining the Neighborhood Commission Office, where she was the neighborhood assistant for the Waianae and Ewa neighborhood boards.
That experience, Hanohano said, inspired her to run for office because she saw how drawn-out and difficult it can be for community members to gain traction from city officials on simple matters, such as calls to address run-down public restroom facilities.
“I don’t think it should take five years and an act of God just to get a crosswalk painted,” Hanohano said. “I can be part of the solution because I know my way around the city and I know where to go to get the answers.”
Also launching his first bid for public office is Kerfoot, a 54-year-old retired small businessman from Makakilo.
Kerfoot said the city ought to generate new revenue streams by legalizing marijuana and gambling. He said he envisions existing Waikiki hotels reinventing themselves as casinos that could bring in big money for the city and state.
To better manage tourism, Kerfoot said shuttered attractions, including the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, Haiku Stairs and Sacred Falls, should reopen to the public.
Kerfoot said the present size of government is unsustainable and must be trimmed down. Community input, he said, must be taken more seriously by county officials.
“There are so many people disenchanted with the system the way it is now,” Kerfoot said. “People in office go through the moves of getting testimony but they don’t really listen to anybody because the decision has already been made.”
A story that takes fives minutes to read often takes days to report.
Quality journalism takes time and resources to produce, but with support from readers like you, Civil Beat can investigate issues and publish stories that are otherwise difficult to fund.
Become a donor and help support Civil Beat’s next investigation.