KAHULUI » Two Maui County mayoral candidates who ran against each other in 2006 are headed for a rematch in November.
With most of the vote tallied last night, Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares and challenger Alan Arakawa were the two top vote-getters, with about 50 percent of the vote between them. Tavares led Arakawa by fewer than 300 votes with 39 of 40 precincts reporting results.
Randy Piltz, a retired electrical contractor, was in third place. No other candidate was in striking range of the top two spots.
Tavares, who has supported elderly programs and expanded bus service, said she probably owed her early lead to senior citizens.
Arakawa said he looked forward to the general election. "I feel great. It’s going to be a very, very interesting rematch. It’s right where we want to be," he said.
Winning the general will hinge on Tavares and Arakawa attracting voters who supported other candidates in the primary.
Several candidates have criticized Tavares’ handling of construction permits in an economy where unemployment was 8.2 percent in July.
Tavares, 66, has argued that the economy is recovering and that voters should support her so that she can complete projects her administration began.
But a few challengers criticized her administration for not being quicker to process building permits and capital improvement projects.
Arakawa, 58, said he wants to increase employment in the county by rebuilding the local economy and working in partnership with businesses.
The primary attracted a large number of candidates critical of the direction of the county, including Piltz, former county planning director Chris Hart, and former Maui TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party co-founder Marc Hodges.
Elle Cochran and Alan Fukuyama were way in front of the seven-candidate field for the West Maui council seat and appeared headed for the Nov. 2 runoff.
South Maui Councilman Wayne Nishiki and challenger Don Couch also locked up spots in the Nov. 2 runoff.
In the open seat for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia district, Mike White and Kai Nishiki gained spots in the runoff.
The other six Maui County Council seats were not contested yesterday, as they had only one or two candidates each and by county rules advanced directly to the runoff.
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. had a commanding lead over his only challenger, Diana LaBedz.
In the Kauai Council race, 14 of the 15 candidates advanced to the general election for the seven council seats. No candidate received enough votes to be elected yesterday.
North Kona Councilman Kelly Greenwell was running last in a field of four and was unseated by former Councilman K. Angel Pilago, who won the seat.
Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason also appeared to have been unseated, as she trailed Fred Blas by nearly 3 percentage points with most votes counted.
Six council members gained re-election last night, including three who were unopposed.