Running for Mayor and getting into politics is not something I ever imagined I would do. But things changed when I began to get a world education, seeing destroyed communities and environments everywhere I went, and then saw the same things happening to my own home, particularly how the largest chemical companies in the world are exploiting Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i and my home island of Kaua‘i face a lot of challenges — from drugs to polluted waters and dying reefs to cultural desecration. One of the biggest problems we face is that we are ground zero for chemical-GMO testing by some of the most powerful corporations in the world (Dow, BASF, Syngenta and Dupont/Poineer). They are spraying some of the most dangerous pesticides in the world right up next to our communities, schools, streams, and onto our best agricultural lands almost every single day of the year. They do stuff here that would be illegal in most developed countries, and our State and Federal government hand them the permits to do it while looking the other way. Our laws are failing to protect people and the land, and the companies break what lax laws we have. They also have exploited our tax system by paying the cheapest taxes meant for local food farmers not multi-billion dollar corporations doing chemical testing.
Last year on Kaua‘i we passed a law for pesticide disclosure and buffer zones around schools and homes. Mayor Bernard Carvalho vetoed the bill. His veto got overridden by a conscious council, the chemical companies then sued the County of Kaua‘i. Now we are fighting them in court. To this day they are spraying six times more poison per acre than anywhere else in the country while we are caught up in court trying to protect our people and island. They have lied to our faces and tried to divide our island by threatening job loss when all we are asking for are disclosure and buffer zones. We’ve had the doctors and nurses come forward publicly with worries of clusters of cancer, birth defects and respiratory disease from all the pesticide use, and still the chemical companies fight us tooth and nail to keep us from knowing what they are spraying. They are spending millions spreading myths. They confuse the public with slick propaganda that talks about harmless high-tech “farming” that is feeding the world, when actually all they do is engineer seeds that are resistant to pesticides so they can sell more of their chemicals and make farmers dependent on their toxic products. Most of the world doesn’t want to grow or eat their toxic crops, so it goes to factory farms and car fuel.
The chemical cartel has bought out most of our elected officials. The corruption is so in our face that normal, everyday people like myself and others have stepped up to the plate to put an end to a long cycle of one sided government, bringing the power back to the people and away from corporate interest.
We are dealing with a mayor who has 30 years of personal relationships with big business on Kaua‘i — and it is transparent in his decisions. We have a governor who is basically a lobbyist for the chemical companies and a lobbyist and lawyer for Dow who is now the CEO of Waimea Hospital, the same hospital that holds all the medical information against the same companies he works for. We are dealing with a very outdated and corrupt system, where corporations are put ahead of people and wealth is put ahead of health. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth but it is being sucked dry due to greed and the commoditizing of our resources. It’s time we have leaders with vision and integrity and who will put the health and well-being of the land and people first.
I have a vision for Kaua‘i.
A Kaua‘i that works not just for big corporations, but for everyone. A Kaua‘i where we grow our own food instead of import it. A Kaua‘i where we help our families with addiction and disease. A Kaua‘i where our waters are flowing free, not monopolized by developers and big land owners from Colonial days. Right nowl we have people without homes and homes without people. I envision a Kaua‘i where everyone has a home, where people who work here can afford to live here. Of an island with a strong and more self-sufficient local economy that can provide and healthy, living-wage jobs for all our families. A Kaua‘i where tourism works for us instead of us working for tourism. A Kaua‘i so connected to our history, culture, and the true meaning of aloha, that we are a leading example for the rest of Hawai‘i.
I’ve been a fighter my whole life, but it’s hard to see myself as the same person I was even a few years ago. Through martial arts and fatherhood, I’ve learned about responsibility, service, and dedication to others and the higher good. I’ve learned that the skills of a fighter are only as good as their intentions to use them for justice and the common-good. And I’ve learned that being a fighter in the good fight is also about being a unifier around a better future for all of us.
Some call me “inexperienced.” And yes, it is true I do not have decades of experience serving the powerful political special interests that have run our island since the early days of colonialism.
I’m not a politician.
I will never act like the king of the plantation. I will always be straightforward, never go back on my word, never avoid the tough questions and open public debate. I’m committed to real democracy, where people actually participate and have a voice and help make decisions about their government and society. I’m for openness and transparency, not back-door deals. I’m for the regular working-class person, not the global corporation. I believe strongly that together, we can move forward sustainably, begin healing Ni‘ihau and Kaua‘i from mauka to makai, rediscover the true meaning of “pono” where people and land are in balance, those governing serve the people, all have a good quality of life, are healthy and are fed.
On Kaua‘i we are fighting global chemical companies, but a lot of our challenges are the same as other places—corporations and profit being put before people, wealth being put before health, people not being able to afford to even eat while the wealthiest banksters and gangsters steal from us all and control our government, destruction of all of our lands and waters. It’s a crazy time to be living, but it’s also an exciting time because we have the opportunity to work together for something totally different based on both ancient wisdom and all of our new knowledge.
Together we are unstoppable. Please vote November 4 if you’re on Kaua‘i, or get involved with your issues wherever you are. It’s all of our kuleana, or our “responsibility/privelage.” We’re one island world. Be the change!
To learn more about how you can join the Dustin Barca ‘Ohana, and work with them on restoring a healthy and prosperous Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, or stopping the chemical cartel from poisoning paradise, visit Barca4Mayor.com. And learn more about his platform here.