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Kawakami on top in Kauai Council race

Susan Essoyan
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Representative Derek Kawakami discusses HB 1850 in a house floor session at the State Capitol on May 3.

State Rep. Derek Kawakami clinched the top spot in his bid to return to the Kauai County Council while Councilmember Gary Hooser faces an uphill climb in the general election.

Kawakami came in first in the primary among 13 candidates vying for seven at-large seats on the Council. But the primary is only a dry run because all 13 Kauai Council candidates will advance to the general election.

“The competitive spirit in me always looks at every election as if it’s the most important election,” Kawakami said before the polls closed. “Even though this is just the primary and we’re all going to get through to the general, we’ve campaigned extremely hard.”

Kawakami served on the Council from 2008 to 2011, when he was appointed to the state House.

Councilmembers Ross Kagawa placed second in the vote, followed by Councilmembers Arryl Kaneshiro, Mel Rapozo and KipuKai Kualii.

Arthur Brun, who says he wants to represent “the average working person,” enjoyed strong union backing and placed sixth.

Councilmembers Mason Chock and JoAnn Yukimura were battling for seventh place, with Councilmember Gary Hooser falling behind them. They were followed by Juno Ann Apalla, Norma Doctor Sparks, Richard Fukushima and Matt Bernabe.

Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar far outpaced his challenger, Lisa Arin, a former deputy prosecutor. Both will advance to the general election.

“We did what we set out to do, which is rebuild the prosecutor’s office and restore the community’s confidence,” Kollar said. “We want to build on those successes we’ve had in the past four years.”

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