Aloha, I'm Kelly
WHAT MOTIVATES ME
I’m running for office for a simple reason. I believe it's our kuleana to step up and serve the community when the need arises.
I am the second oldest in a big family and in caring for my sisters, I learned responsibility at a young age. I was an early advocate for those who cannot speak up for themselves, on which my foundation of civic responsibility was built.
I experienced racism for the first time at 10 years old. A boy at school used a racial slur against me and that incident led to a conversation with my parents about the internment camps where they were both imprisoned by the U.S. government for being of Japanese ancestry. Poignant moments like these shaped my determination to stand up for those who need a voice.
As an involved citizen, sustainability champion, local business owner, parent and advocate for the community's needs, I understand the importance of a balance between smart growth and doing what is right for our island and its people. Like my first run for office, my bid for County Council is not a personal career goal. Rather it is an opportunity to serve the people of Maui and stand up for transparent, responsive and efficient government.
My first campaign slogan – Pono Prosperity – sums up my vision – doing the right thing goes hand in hand with public office. My expanded campaign slogan – Pono Prosperity, Cultivating Good Governance – encapsulates my vision and the work I have done serving the County. As I continue to work on legislation to create a more effective government, I will continue my civic outreach. My town halls, webinars, community meetings and social media engagements will continue to grow, providing an ear for your voices, the voices for which I stand.
KELLY TAKYA KING
Cultivating Good Government
Long time Maui resident Kelly Takaya King is a successful entrepreneur who stepped away from her business in 2017 to serve the people of Maui County as the Councilmember representing South Maui.
Kelly's first involvement in community service began in the 1980s after she and her baby daughter joined the Kihei Neighborhood Playgroup, a free county program for parents and their young children. When the director of the program left the island, Kelly stepped in to run the playgroup – enhancing the program by bringing in guests to speak on childcare and utilizing donations to purchase toddler toys and playground equipment.
She continued her involvement in public service while she and her husband, Bob King, raised their children, evolving as she saw the need. The year before her daughter, Jenna, started kindergarten at Kihei School, Kelly was dismayed to learn that 2000 students of all grade levels shared the same playground. Jumping in, she worked with the school PTA and developers to build a separate area with playground equipment for the youngest students.
Kelly then spearheaded playground equipment installations at Kalama Park -- the first real superplayground on the island -- and Kula Park, both public/private partnerships with Maui County. For about 15 years she considered volunteering in the community her “job,” mostly focusing on the needs of keiki.
As her children grew, Kelly became more immersed in the lives of Maui’s older children. Seeing the lack of activities for young girls, Kelly started a Girl Scout Troop to help empower young women; during her first year, she received the “Rookie of the Year” award from the Maui Girl Scout administration. She would later encourage her husband to take over the Boy Scout Troop in South Maui which grew from the smallest to the largest troop on the island under his leadership.
Kelly also became active in school governance, through the PTA and School/Community-Based Management, and by winning the Maui seat on the Hawaii State Board of Education in 1994. During her four years on the BOE, Kelly was successful in getting policies passed that strengthened School/Community-Based Governance, addressed the need for air conditioning, and required alignment of school curriculum between grade levels.
After her Board of Education term, Kelly tried to take time off from her community work; however, Hui Malama Learning Center called her back to service. After falling in love with their mission of helping at-risk students with literacy, Kelly joined the Board of Directors. As an officer of the board, Kelly helped direct HMLC to a healthy financial state.
On her private business side, from the early 80s to the mid 2000s, Kelly and her husband, Bob King, were owner/operators of King Diesel, a Maui diesel engine repair and maintenance service. In their business, as in all of their work, it was important to give back to the community – hiring local mechanics straight out of Maui High School.
The success of King Diesel inspired the couple to create Pacific Biodiesel in 1995, now the nation’s longest operating biodiesel producer. The Kings dedicated their life savings to this new venture which began as a recycling project to divert used cooking oil from Maui’s landfills and offer biodiesel as a clean, renewable displacement for petroleum diesel. With their focus on production, Pacific Biodiesel established the first retail biodiesel pump in America. In 2005, Bob and Kelly King won a Small Business Administration award for Small Businesspersons of the Year.
Kelly's interest in environmental issues grew after she went to work for the company full time in the year 2000. In her expanded role, she worked toward island sustainability and self-sufficiency for their business. “It's about surviving and thriving rather than just recycling,” she said then. Sustainability remains a thread throughout all of her work and personal life to this day. She also networked with other businesses, government agencies and non-profits around the state and country, and put Maui on the map for Pacific Biodiesel’s pioneering efforts. A former Hawaii Farm Service Agency Director once praised Kelly’s work in the company by telling her “You’re the most collaborative business in the state!”
When a proposal to import palm oil from deforested land in Indonesia surfaced in Maui, Kelly joined forces with biodiesel advocates Willie and Annie Nelson, Woody and Laura Harrelson, and Daryl Hannah to create the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, which became a national non-profit that supports sustainable biodiesel production and delivery.
Kelly’s involvement in local, state and national issues eventually led her to answer Maui County’s needs on a legislative leadership scale. Urged by Mauians across the county, she first ran for County Council in 2016 because she believes it is her kuleana to step up and serve the community when the need arises. Kelly’s success as a community collaborator has always been about bringing folks together to work toward common goals.
Pono Prosperity is more than just a campaign slogan; it is the guideline for Kelly's personal, business and governmental mission-based success; she is always striving to encourage and incorporate smart growth in our county without having to choose between doing what is pono and what is economically viable, Transparency is part of that mission, and Kelly has diligently made outreach and public engagement a focus in her first two terms.
During her first run for council, Kelly promised to commit to the issues that are most important to the community and actively find solutions for affordable housing, environmental protection and climate change, and diversifying our economy. This solutions-oriented approach to her work can be seen in her numerous Council accomplishments. Kelly has helped bring about several affordable housing projects in South and West Maui, and advocated to protect Front Street Apartments from falling out of affordability; she has supported measures to decrease drunk driving fatalities; she lead the Council in its vote to settle the Lahaina Injection Well lawsuit and even created a standing committee on Climate Action and Resilience which she now chairs.
Now that we are in this pandemic, along with advocating for more federal and county funding for direct aid to residents, businesses and social services, Kelly has used her “free” time to sew masks, help distribute free meals, hold informational webinars on food security and Charter Amendments,
Her new campaign slogan – Cultivating Good Governance – expands on Pono Prosperity. Working with her colleagues on the Council to pass several government improvement initiatives, Kelly has led the successful effort to give Maui voters the opportunity to decide this November if we will move forward with a more professional, efficient and effective county administration. It's important to put egos, corporate interests and personalities aside and focus on the needs of all as we work toward a just transition in our new diversified, circular economy. And we must be most diligent at the local level where the community has the most control. Kelly supports and encourages all residents to be engaged and active in our community because it is these voices – your voices – for which she stands.
Our campaign, as with the work of my office for the last four years, remains positive and hopeful, inspired by the beauty of Maui Nui and our residents.
If re-elected, I dedicate the next term to this adage by Nelson Mandela: May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears! ~ Kelly T. King