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Emerging leaders in Maui County join program’s inaugural cohort

The Maui News

Nine Maui County residents, including government employees and small business owners, will hone their leadership skills as part of the inaugural cohort of Partners for Democracy, a program for emerging leaders who want to harness their passion for political advocacy to bring about change in Hawaii.

The cohort consists of 30 civic-minded local leaders who are interested in running for elected office or becoming advocates for economic, community and social issues, according to a news release. The 15-week nonpartisan civic leadership program officially kicked off Thursday with a keynote by nationally acclaimed author and political strategist Christine Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Developed by the nonprofit Pacific Resource Partnership, the program’s curriculum aims to empower leaders with training tools, resources and support to help them build a solid foundation that will enable them to address the key issues facing Hawaii. Hands-on group and individual sessions will help cohort members to build the strategic skills necessary to become effective candidates for public office, campaign managers or public policy advocates.

“We’re excited to launch this program and encourage new voices with different ideas and perspectives to participate in the democratic process,” said Kyle Chock, interim executive director for Pacific Resource Partnership. “Not only is this an election year, but with redistricting, we will be electing legislators for every seat in the Hawaii State Legislature. We’ve received overwhelming interest in the program, and our first cohort is a diverse group coming from both the public and private sector, across all counties.”

The organization’s research findings and polling from the 2018 and 2019 “Hawaii Perspectives” identified affordable housing, homelessness and economic hardship as some of the top concerns of Hawaii residents.

“The rising cost of living is driving our young local talent from the islands, including my daughter, and as a parent, it’s heartbreaking to see how our communities are changing, especially here on the Neighbor Islands,” said John Pele, Molokai cohort member. “By enrolling in this program, I hope to learn how to run a successful campaign and make meaningful change for my community.”

Members of the cohort from Maui County are:

• Jared Sam Agtunong, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, advocate, Maui.

• Kauanoe Batangan, advocate, Maui.

• Linda Clark, Hawaii State Legislature, candidate, Maui.

• Shane Dudoit, self employed, advocate, Maui.

• Karey Kapoi, Karey Kapoi LLC, advocate, Maui.

• Tyson Miyake, County of Maui, advocate, Maui.

• Buddy James Nobriga, Maui Soda & Ice Works, candidate, Maui.

• John Pele, Paniolo Hale AOAO, candidate, Molokai.

• Nohelani Uu-Hodgins, FW Land LLC, advocate, Maui.

The training program will run through March 22, with the option for cohort members to participate in a full-time work-study program, working on a local political campaign or in a campaign in another state from April to December.

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