Energy & EnvironmentHawaiiPolitics

Is Kauai Pro-GMO? Primary Election Results Suggest So

The issue spurred many people on the neighbor islands to run for office. The results may be telling.

·By Nathan Eagle

Kauai County Councilmen Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa, the lone members to oppose the county’s controversial GMO disclosure bill last year, are now more popular than ever among voters.

They took the top two slots, respectively, in Saturday’s crowded primary race — the best either has ever done in any election. 

The third-place finisher, first-time candidate Arryl Kaneshiro — another staunch supporter of the genetically engineered seed companies that provide many jobs on the island’s westside — followed closely behind. 

Kauai County Council members listen as Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., on the TV monitor, testifies on the GMO bill, Nov. 17, 2013.

Sophie Cocke/Civil Beat

The Kauai County Council race was one of several elections in Hawaii that political observers were monitoring to see how well candidates running on pro- or anti-GMO platforms performed. 

None of the new candidates who wants to pass laws that would require GMO labeling on food products, banish GMO companies or restrict their use of pesticides won a seat or is positioned well to do so in the general.

But as political experts have noted, winning this time around wasn’t necessarily about getting the most votes. Some see a foundation being laid that may take multiple election cycles to produce tangible results.

“We might be witnessing the beginnings of a leftward movement in the Democratic Party here,” Hawaii Pacific University communication professor John Hart said Monday.

“Their short-term goal was not a success, but it has put people

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Nathan Eagle

Nathan Eagle is a reporter for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at neagle@civilbeat.coml or follow him on Twitter at @nathaneagle.
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