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West Maui’s people a priority for Su Campos

By Staff | Jul 22, 2010

Su Campos is running for the West Maui seat on the County Council.

NAPILI — Su Campos is no stranger to politics. She’s jumped into the proverbial political ring a second time, offering voters another choice as a candidate for the West Maui seat on the County Council.

The 58-year-old rental manager at Honokeana Cove is fighting to protect the quality of life she loves, with its roots steeped in the spirit of aloha.

In an interview with Lahaina News, Campos recalled what Maui was like in 1970.

“When I first moved here and I was getting an apartment, I needed a check cashed, and my bank in Lahaina wouldn’t cash it. They wanted to hold on to it.

“My girlfriend, who knew Jane Nagasako, said, ‘Su, come, I want you to meet somebody.’ She took me over to Nagasako’s and introduced me to Jane. ‘This is my girlfriend, Su. She’s moving here; she needs a check cashed.’ And Jane looked at me and says, ‘Sign the back of it,’ and she cashed it.”

“Running for office is taking care of all of my good friends like that — that’s what it’s all about.”

Campos is passionate about the West Side.

“West Maui needs to focus on the true gem of West Maui — that is the people of West Maui. Let’s take care of those people that go to work each day and love where they live by providing the best infrastructure possible. Give us a ‘real’ bypass, give us upgraded schools, give us non-smelly sewer plants, give us more parks and improve the ones we have, give us homes that are really affordable for the working class and not the wealthy,” she said.

“We have seen too much emphasis on hotels, timeshares, vacant shopping centers and million dollar homes,” Campos continued. “I just can’t sit back and let this happen without trying to do something about this.”

Campos has plenty of experience working with and for the people.

For the past 20-plus years, as a homeowner in Napilihau Community Association, she has served on the board of directors.

Eighteen of those years, she governed as the neighborhood president of the 174-home single-family community “built in 1974 by Maui Land and Pine to house the pineapple workers after being displaced from their homes in Kapalua,” Campos explained.

“I’ve learned to work with a diverse multicultural society up here. We have Japanese, we have Tongans, we have Samoans, we have Filipinos, we got haoles, we got surfer dudes. We have every culture in Napilihau; that’s why we call it the hau. Working with all those kind of people is like working with the County of Maui. It’s just not one race or one club — it’s about working for everybody,” she said.

In the early 1990s, she was a member of the now defunct Napili Action Group, successfully lobbying with fellow neighbors in the small working class, residential community to protect it from the development of an industrial center across the highway at the then-Rainbow Ranch.

In the mid-1990s, she chaired Maui Mayor Linda Lingle’s West Maui Advisory Committee for three years.

She served as a commissioner on the Board of Variances and Appeals for a four-year stint commencing in 1996.

In 1994, she ran for the West Side seat the first time “when it was a partisan race, and I stood no chance as an Independent candidate,” she commented.

Back in 2010, Campos has honed her platform.

“We’ve headed in the wrong direction for too many years, thinking that tourism is our only option, and it’s not,” she said.

“The county needs to focus on creating jobs through diverse agriculture and working with small business people to get those vacant shopping centers filled and, hopefully, building at least another hospital on our island.

“We have enough hotels that employ people already. We must look for different areas of employment that will also keep our college-educated children on Maui,” she added.

“I’m just a regular gal, and I’m honest. I’m going to tell it like it is, but I am also going to listen.”

And, tell it like it is, she did, acknowledging the roots of the community she loves.

“I think it is important to recognize the culture of West Maui and to recognize the ancestors and appreciate what they gave to us… I wouldn’t have moved here if I didn’t have the good feel that was left from people before me,” she concluded.