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Oshiro beats Okino in closely watched Hawaii House race

By Gene Park

LAST UPDATED: 5:49 a.m. HST, Sep 19, 2010

State Rep. Blake Oshiro, the main author of the civil unions bill that passed the Legislature before being vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle this year, defeated outgoing City Councilman Gary Okino last night for the state House 33rd District (Halawa-Aiea).

Okino has been outspoken on his stance against civil unions, and was criticized by fellow Democrats for his support for Republican candidates who are against abortion and civil unions.

Oshiro, who beat Okino by 12 percentage points, said a handful of voters he met with yesterday were concerned about the civil unions issue.

"But for a lot of people, they were looking to discuss the bigger issues like the economy, jobs and education," Oshiro said.

Okino, who faced criticism from the Democratic Party regarding his endorsements, said a loss means his retirement.

"I was going to retire anyway," Okino said. "(Losing) would make the decision for me to retire completely."

In the race for an open seat in Senate District 22 (Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea) vacated by Robert Bunda, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz defeated state Rep. Michael Magaoay and former legislator Gerald Hagino.

Dela Cruz dropped out of the race for mayor to run for the Senate. He represents the district in the City Council. He gained 39.8 percent of the votes, while Magaoay had 25.5 and Hagino 24.7 percent.

"The bottom line is I wanted to continue to serve my constituents," he said last night from his home. "This is the place where I was born and raised. The focus now is on progress."

On Kauai, political newcomer Daynette "Dee" Morikawa ousted Democratic incumbent Rep. Roland Sagum for District 16 (Poipu-Waimea-Niihau). Morikawa beat Sagum by about 17 percentage points.

Morikawa has worked for Kauai County since 1999 and is a member of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

"Definitely the people want more representation," she said after the first results were released. "They haven't seen much of anything in the last four years."

Morikawa said she will take her knowledge as a county worker to improve infrastructure in her district.

"I'm at the end of my career with the county government," she said. "I just suddenly decided to do this. You grumble, but that's not going to help anyone."

Linda Ichiyama, a 24-year-old Democratic candidate seeking the House District 31 seat (Moanalua Valley-Moanalua-Salt Lake), sailed over her opponents last night with 68.2 percent of the votes. Her closest competitor, Ryan Toyomura, had 13.9 percent of the votes.

Ichiyama is looking to replace Rep. Glenn Wakai, who is seeking a Senate seat this election. She is a first-time candidate and a recent graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

"I think having a legal background helps when you're looking to write laws, because you understand how they're going to be interpreted," she said. "It also has helped to have experience working at the Legislature."

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