2022 Kauaʻi Council Elections: The Speculation and The Facts

The 2022 Kauaʻi election line-up is slowly starting to take shape. As of 04/15, 10 residents have formally expressed interest in running for the 7-member County Council. In 2020 there were 21 candidates on the primary ballot, with the top 14 going on to the general election.

The actual filing deadline is June 7 so there’s still plenty of time for new candidates to step forward as this nonpartisan race will ultimately be decided in the November general election.

Due to term limits capping Councilmembers to 4 consecutive two-year terms, current Council Chair Erryl Kaneshiro and Vice-Chair Mason Chock are “terming out” and thus unable to run for re-election.

In theory, this term limit provision creates two “openings” on the Council and an opportunity for new candidates, new voices, and new ideas.

I say, “In theory” because both former Council Chair Melvin Rapozo and former Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa have signaled their intentions to run once again for the Council.

There are 7 seats on the Kauaʻi County Council and all are up for election. In theory (there’s that phrase again) every single seat is “open”. But in reality, incumbents and former incumbents have a significant advantage.

Councilmember Felicia Cowden has filed her papers and Kipu Kai Kualii has pulled his. The 3 remaining Council incumbents Luke Evslin, Billy DeCosta, and Bernard Carvalho will also likely run for re-election.

So it may be deja vu all over again. Or not.

While at first glance we seem to get to 7 pretty quickly, me thinks things are a bit more nuanced than simply, same ole same ole wins again.

After analyzing past elections the question for the Council race seems to boil down to who is fighting for the bottom. CM Evslin who has consistently finished at the top of the list, and CM former Mayor Carvalho are both solid. Former Council Chair Rapozo whose name has remained in the spotlight via the popular “Mel and Charlie Show” streamed live regularly on social media also seems to be set.

A review of the 2020 general election final results have DeCosta at #5, Cowden at #6 and Kualii coming in at #7 – all clustered within a 600 vote margin of each other.

First-time candidate Addison Bulosan came in #8 in 2020 which clearly makes him the most likely of the existing challengers to “move up” into a winning slot. A drive around the island shows he is once again running a strong campaign with signs and banners going up island-wide.

The bookmakers in Vegas would for sure say that, at this point in time, the 2022 battle for the bottom 4 slots will be between Cowden, DeCosta, Kualii, Bulosan, and Kagawa.

But of course, anything can happen, more candidates are sure to jump in, and ghosts from Christmas past could very well emerge.

The recent bribery charges against two sitting state legislators (Maui and Oahu), plus the fact that a former Kauaʻi County Councilmember is facing 15 years in prison on charges that he led a methamphetamine ring – are sure to raise questions among voters as to who knew what, and when.

It’s also possible, and if you are listening to the political rumor mill, highly likely that there may be movement, perhaps a retirement, at the state legislative level. If this occurs, it would likely motivate an incumbent Councilmember to attempt to “move up”.

Personally, I’d like to see us move forward, not backward. My hope is that candidates reflecting a broader diversity of viewpoints, new ideas, new energy, and new voices will soon step up to throw their hat in the ring. To say the “good ole boys” are over-represented at the moment, would be an understatement.

The above is speculation, below are just the facts.


Per the Office of Elections, the following have either “pulled papers”, or actually filed to be a Council candidate. List is updated every Friday.

Filed: Felicia Cowden, Nelson Mukai, Mel Rapozo, Clint Yago Sr.,

Pulled but not filed: Addison Bulosan, Rosemarie Jauch, Ross Kagawa, Kipukai Kuali’i, James Robert Lanstad, Jeffrey Linder.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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