Sakamoto Properties

Small Communities Can Make a Big Difference
August 19th, 2014

Betty Sakamoto: Aloha and welcome to Betty's real estate corner brought to you by Sakamoto Properties where prestige is our business, reputation our foundation. Today we have a little something unusual for you here in the studio. My husband is here, Roy Sakamoto.

Roy Sakamoto: That's not unusual.

B: That's not unusual. That's not the unusual part. And we have with us Molly Park, who is Mayor Molly Park from Sunfish Lake, Minnesota and she will be shortly going into 12 years as mayor of that town. So, it's going to be a very exciting moment. I have so many things I want to ask her and that I think she wants to talk about. But, to kind of give you an idea and then at the very end we might do a little real estate. But, for some reason, I've known Molly for 30 years, her and her husband and children. And I think that her town is, let's say, around 500 people. Chicago has 8 million people. Molly, at the moment I don't even have the figure in my head, but I think the most important thing about this is, that whether your town has 500 people or 8 million people, or somewhere in between, it's all the same. Everybody has the same needs, everybody needs their Mayor and the other people involved. And I'm just going to love hearing from Molly Park.

Molly Park: Aloha Betty. It's just a joy to be here with you and Roy in the studio today.

B: Well, I think it's going to be again, it's going to be a lot of fun. We're going to try to ask her a lot of questions. Roy maybe has a little something he wants to say, a quick Aloha?

R: Well, yeah. Aloha and you know, it's funny people are saying to me, 'are you really recording live, are you on the air live?' and, absolutely. So, if we goof up, we're on live.

B: That's right, we are live.

M: His thumb and his baby finger are going, shaking like that, Aloha sign.

R: Yeah.

B: It's an Aloha moment. And it is, we've done it live all the time. Maybe there's been once or twice that we were going to be out of town, we've recorded something ahead of time. But it's live, we make a mistake, so be it. We've got things we want to say and things that matter to us about our community. And again, from Molly today, I would like to just ask you a couple of questions maybe.

M: Right.

R: First, wait a minute. Neil Everett, ESPN radio, doing his thing for Lahainaluna and I'd like you to know the class of 1960 is now leading in the class race.

B: Good.

R: And we've donated $2,000 so far to the bleacher project and we're looking for more.

B: So, you could actually have two rows.

R: Oh, well we've got two rows now. We're going for three and maybe a favor or two.

B: Yeah, it's really exciting.

M: Sounds good.

R: Yeah, and it's a fun project, it's a great stadium, it's a stadium all of Lahaina could be proud of and really all of Maui can be proud of. And to have a big name like Neil Everett coming out and speaking on behalf of this project, it's huge. It's, wow, one of a kind stadium in Hawaii.

B: You know, you take small communities all around the country, it's one of a kind. It's the same field the Dallas Cowboys have and we could not be more fortunate to have this for the children of Lahaina. And as they're growing up now and the next group keeps coming to the school, I know that Lanny Tihada will take the kids aside and his son, who's also, who's now the coach, they really talk to the kids and let them know how gifted it is, what an amazing thing it is for our school.

R: It's huge and again, you know, the online, or call Jeff Rogers. You remember the number, dear.

B: Nope.

R: Okay, Jeff Rogers at the Lahainaluna High School Foundation and put your nickels and dimes and dollars in, help this great project.

B: Anybody could pull together a group and then name your group, and have it on a bleacher seat. And I think I really is going to be something Roy and I, when we first started this decided that we were going that the first thing we did was the class of 1831, which was the year the school started. But we're thinking, if nothing else, if everybody could just pick a class and you could say the Smith Family sponsoring class of 1832, you know, because somebody started in 1832, I'm assuming, I'm not sure when the first graduating class actually was, but we should probably get that answer.

R: Yeah, I'm not sure.

M: And, you know, Lahainaluna High School means something for us nationally too because I heard that it was the oldest, long standing school in the nation west of the Mississippi River. We, in the Twin Cities, and are on Mississippi River so we are connected to Lahainaluna too, it's a legacy project.

R: Nice.

M: It enriches all of us in one way or another.

B: It does.

R: That's great.

B: It enriches all of us.

R: Okay, now.

B: Now, Molly.

R: On to Molly.

M: Molly in Maui, yes.

B: Molly in, Mayor Molly in Maui.

M: A lot of M's there.

B: Yes, a lot of M's. Tell us a little bit about what it is like to be the Mayor and what it takes. You know, I thought it was interesting to learn about your police department, fire department, and things like that when only basically have 500 plus people in the community.

M: Right, right. Again, we are a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minneapolis in St. Paul. And actually, in our community there are a lot of the leaders of the community of the entire metro area, there are three and a half million people in the Twin Cities metro area and some of them live in Sunfish Lake. The business executives, doctors, lawyers, judges, we have professional athletes, a former international author. People have come to Sunfish Lake to retreat from the busy life and yet we can't forget about the rest of life, we need to be connected, we're not just an escape place for some people. We are connected to the community and we cannot survive without the help of our neighboring communities. As Betty had said, Betty has said that, police and fire we get from other communities. We do. One city, West Saint Paul - size of 20,000 - they supply our police protection. And the city of Mendota Heights, another next door neighbor, supply our fire department needs. And so, we have always known that we need to collaborate with other communities in order to survive. And for cities in all of our country, since the 2008 2009 economic crisis, cities have learned that in order to provide services for their communities they have to look at new ways, new partnerships, in delivering services that are economical and the taxes don't go up. So, all of the United States is being faced with issues that we, in a very small community like ours have faced from the beginning. And, I never have to feel embarrassed or defensive that I come from a small community. We have some principals that we have offered to the greater region also and they are thankfully listening to us.

B: I think somebody is listening to us and it's going to be, this will also be on YouTube and it'll be on So, if you go to our website, it'll be up, let's say the longest in about a week. But, check that out, You can see all of the properties that we have listed and it goes also into the Maui County Board of Realtors so that you can also see everything that's for sale on Maui. There's a section you can also take a look at that says, 'the world.' So, you can actually shop the world. You can look at real estate all the way around the world and come up with something. So, take a look at our website, you'll be able to see Mayor Molly, Betty and Roy, and take a look at this show. It'll be fun to have you see it and I know that Molly's constituency will eventually take a look at this. I think it'll be pretty fun.

M: There we go.

R: You know, we were fortunate enough to spend a few days at the Park's residence and what a great community. It's just kind of a fun community and, yep, just I don't know, everything was so pristine, very, very impressive and I look forward to maybe visiting again.

M: We hope you do, we hope you do. In our community, Roy and Betty, we have what we call low-density residential properties. Everybody has acreage of some sort, at least two and a half acres of land. And we do not then have sewer and water, we have septic and well. So, that's a little bit different from the usual city and in our town we really treasure the rural space that's available there. But, one of the things we have to educate our newcomers to the village or the town, and again we are an incorporated class-A city, so we can call ourselves a city no matter how small we are. We have to encourage people to appreciate the culture of Sunfish Lake, which is that rural residential appreciation for nature. When everybody has a lot of land to work with they think well we can do this, we can do that, we can build that, we can do this...and that is not the case. It isn't just like a snobby, 'oh no, you can't do that.' When you have well and septic, the storm water management and surface water, and rainwater, all those issues that affect Hawaii also are very important to us. We have to be very conscious of the impervious surfaces that are being constructed in our acreage properties so that the storm water movement is not going to damage the environment or the beauty that we have. So, I tend to tell people, you know, it looks like nothing is going on here, it takes a lot of something to make sure that nothing goes on. And one of the ways that I used to sort of keep our citizens informed, I believe that informed citizenry is the key to community strength.

B: Absolutely.

M: And, there's so much you can learn from your constituency, especially in a constituency that are so excellent in so many other ways. But I think any community leader, who's a good community leader, respects his or her constituencies, and can learn from them, and wants to hear from them, and keep connected with communication. So, we have a little quarterly newsletter that goes out four times a year. And actually, I get a chance to set the tone for how our community is going to be and relate to each other, we're going to have a civil tone with each other. And if there's something coming up, we've had some issues with airport noise, we do live near the International Twin Cities Airport because a lot of people come and go and need to get in and out of town. But there's some issues with airport noise. But when you, as a leader, inform your constituencies about what's going on, let them know what's happening, let them be part of committees that work on these issues. Then, you take that energy that they may have that could go in a negative way and take it to use it in a positive way and give them an ownership of their own community. They're helping to develop the community that we live in. So, I think communication is very key issue, no matter how large or how small the community is.

B: What you were just saying about water, surface water, etcetera, is something pretty near and dear that anybody in Maui today, as we just went through a possible hurricane. And the fear of water and the planning for the water and what was happening and as we came up to it, getting people off the streets. You know, they were trying to get people to go home early, to get away from their places of business, to be with their families, to stock up on the things they need. But, if the water had been as frantic as we thought it might be and if the wind's had become hurricane 4's, or even any major storm, it's really a difficult thing here, and it does take communication and fortunately I think that we did a good job with that. But, you know where someone starts talking about it, we have water that could surge in from the ocean, as well as major flooding that can come down from our mountains. But, I think what you just said Molly is very, very key, that communication with the public, for whatever the citizenry is, is major and that it's done right, it's done with caring, and let's say with love. But with caring and emotion and yet, making it simple. Keep it simple.

M: That's right, Betty. Very true.

B: Keep it simple.

R: Yeah, good point, good point. You mentioned your voter turnout, which was a staggering percentage. What percentage was that?

M: Well, for the state of Minnesota, the last presidential election we had 76.1 voter turnout in Minnesota.

R: Wow.

M: That was number one, always had a strong tradition that, in Sunfish Lake we had about 88 or 90 percent voter turnout. But I want to tell you this, my husband has always said to me, 'Molly, there are more people on a 747 jet than there are registered voters in Sunfish Lake. So, don't get off on your high horse about that.'

R: But still...

M: Yes, yes.

R: That's an awesome percentage...

M: Yes.

R: And the state of Minnesota, wow.

M: Correct, correct.

R: I know our last election, here on Maui, we were in the low 30's, I think for voting turnout. Which is embarrassing, really. Come on people, get out there and vote.

M: And we're not pointing fingers at anybody but we can work at ways to help encourage that, that would be great. If you feel more connected to your community, you want to take a part in it, that's one of the ways to do it.

R: Yeah.

B: Getting the vote up is important and there are a lot of way each of us can help if we talk, probably, with one of the organizations that are around and that do things like help to get the vote out, whether it's by helping by driving some people, or maybe babysitting, or doing something, you know, help your neighbor so they can up. And I think it does matter, and every vote matters, no matter which way it's going to go. When you go to the polls and you vote, whether it's primary or general election, you walk out of there proud. And, even if your candidate isn't the one that wins, you walk out proud.

R: Absolutely.

M: That's correct.

B: You know, just a quick thing, getting back to this. Anyone who's going to want to look at this show or listen to it again, go to You can call us for anything that you'd like to chat about, (808) 669-0070. We may skip over real estate today, unless Roy comes up with one possible property.

R: Well, we'll probably chat about one or two properties but coming back to our opening with Lahainaluna High School Foundation. I do have a phone number now, 661-5332 and Jeff Rogers is there, almost 24/7 it seems.

B: It does seem that way.

R: Yeah, call Jeff, 661-5332 and make your donation to Lahainaluna High School.

B: And, again, it is West Maui's high school. There's another new school here, Maui Prep, which is not so new anymore, but a really fabulous private school. And there are a lot of our students that doing that, really small classes, etcetera. But, Lahainaluna High School has great sports, it's always been a school where the community has cared about it and we need your help right now. And I think, whether it's just this campaign or your want to assist in some sort of a scholarship program, which we have going on, or there are so many different things that are important at Lahainaluna High School and we need your help. Right now!

R: Yeah. Right now!

M: And speaking of those future voters, the kids who are being educated, I just want to say something about millennials, the group of citizens who are in our country who are in their early 20's and how are they going to be connected in, maybe, serving in government or not, that's a concern to those of us who are in leadership positions, in elective positions already. And I just wanted to say that in our Twin Cities community, one of the other suburbs in my county, it's Dakota County, the mayor is 29 years old and the city is the size of 55 thousand people. He says when he goes to the local high schools to talk to the kids, they know that the mayor is coming and they're looking and looking in the crowd for the grey haired old guy and then this 29 year old black haired kid comes in, man comes in and says, 'I'm the mayor.' And the young people are very engaged in the fact that...

B: Yes.

M: A 29 year old guy is the mayor of one of the major suburbs in our community so there is hope. And I think people, kids too, they long to connect and have some kind of meaning in life and community service is one of those ways.

B: More and more I do think we have to be sure our kids learn about community service and I know that they do on Maui. I know that there are a lot of different things and probably if everybody understood that, if every kid understood it. Even if you're planning to get a job in the next, well you're in college let's say in Lahaina or in high school, so if you're in four years going to possibly need a job, if you start with community service today. You help out with something, no matter what group it is, whether you're going over to Hale Makua, you're reading for people, or maybe you're involved in anything, that's going to go really well for you one day when you're looking for a job and you can show that on a resume. At the foundation office we do have one student that typically comes to meetings and kind of fills in what she feels, or he, the needs of the school are. I think that's really fun to see because it isn't, it doesn't always necessarily coincide with what we're able to do at that moment, but I think anytime we allow kids to step in and tell us what they need or what they think is needed, we really should listen to that and pull them in because they are our future.

M: That's true.

B: They are an amazing future.

M: That's right, Betty.

R: Vey true, very true.

B: Well, we're kind of winding down a little bit, we still got a little time for real estate.

R: Yeah, right. How about our favorite property in Lahaina, 15B Ui Place.

B: I actually drove all the way over here, Molly and I were together and I was telling her about this place. The minute we listed it we had an offer on it and we've got people looking at it all the time but it's really half a block from the ocean, it isn't that far to an actual legal beach access, but you could walk everywhere from this property. It's an older home, it's concrete block, it's a roof that's about 12 years old, it has a one bedroom - one bath ohana, three bedroom - one bath house with an extra bathroom in the wash house, which is kind of part of the typical Lahaina home, where your washing machine is etcetera.

R: Your laundry room.

B: Your laundry room. It's a fabulous place and anybody can live in this. I mean, I'd like to, probably today I think somebody's going to end up modifying the electrical, modifying plumbing, etcetera. But, anybody could live in this house, it might need air conditioning but other than that.

R: It does have air conditioning and it probably needs to be replaced but, you know, boy, it's got to sell real quick.

B: It does have a fabulous breeze going through it too.

R: It does, yeah.

B: If I open every window it's good.

R: Right. Call us, we could show this to you at anytime, 669-0070 or look at our website,

B: Okay, we now are pretty much, officially, at the one minute warning. So, Molly, would you like to say, you know Molly has lived here in some capacity for 30 years.

M: Right, I was like 12 years old.

B: She was 12 years old. Right.

R: We'll vouch for that.

B: She was a wealthy 12 year old child. No, just kidding. She was, but her and her husband we're able to come here and buy, at the time, a smaller condo, and they've come back, come back, come back and every year that they get here it's the best.

M: Yes, we love being in Maui, it regenerates us and we just are so grateful for all of you for creating community here that our family can enjoy. Thank you so much for that.

R: It is a fun place, isn't it?

B: It's a fun place, call us (808) 669-0070. I think we're going to have Neil Everett hopping back on and then a quick goodbye from Danny Couch.

Mailing Address:
Sakamoto Properties
P.O. Box 10068
Lahaina, HI 96761
Phone: (808) 669-0070
Fax: (808) 669-1234
Office Address:
Sakamoto Properties
Napili Plaza
5095 Napilihau Street #203
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
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