Rick Nava, 55, is a small business owner who wants to be the next Maui County Council member representing West Maui.
He's had his eye on an elected position for some time, and has been urged to run many times. But it's only now-with his daughter coming home to help with the operations of his company-that he can devote his time to seeking public office.
Nava is the president and owner of Media Systems Inc., a video and photography service in Lahaina. At one time, the company employed 70 people, but now his workforce is down to 22 workers.
Rick Nava – Challenger
"Quite a few of them leave," he said, "because even working more than one job, they can't afford to live here."
Nava's resume emphasizes years of community involvement on the West Side. He's been a member of the Rotary Club of Lahaina since 1993 and has been president of the club several times. He's also been treasurer, secretary and headed a variety of committees for the group. He's active in a number of civic groups and has also played a prominent role in a variety of Maui Filipino organizations.
Nava tutors seventh- and eighth-grade students, primarily those who do not speak English as a first language, and has long been involved with other youth activities. He is perhaps best known for his long-time interest in youth basketball and other sports programs for young people.
His campaign materials stress his years of community involvement and the experience he has gained in over 29 years of military service in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.
Nava has been a Lahaina resident since 1970. He is a 1976 graduate of Lahainaluna High School. The candidate is married with two children.
As he speaks to people, Nava talks about the lack of jobs and the cost of housing. He frequently mentions that our young people go away to live in areas where homes are more affordable.
"It's hard to buy a $375,000 house on a job that pays $15 an hour," he said.
As for the controversial proposed legislation related to GMOs and the use of pesticides copied from similar legislation on Kaua'i that was introduced by incumbent Elle Cochran, his only comment was, "My feeling is she did not do her due diligence. It would have been better to talk to those who would be affected the most. She represents the entire county, not just a certain few. I would talk to the people affected before I push out a bill."
But at core, Nava feels that his campaign is not about Cochran.
"My campaign is all about what I can bring to the table," he said. "She's doing her thing; I'm doing my thing."
The way he sees it, the most important issues are the need for additional youth programs and protecting the environment. He also favors the construction of affordable housing and the need to strengthen our local economy by supporting small business.
Nava is actively making the rounds and talking to voters. He has already visited Molokai and Lana'i to help understand their concerns. He thinks the primary race will cost between $8,000 and $10,000. So far he's raised about $4,000.
Nava's campaign materials are bright and bold and posted all over the county. His slogan is short and direct: "He listens, he cares."