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Hawaii News

Most incumbents retain their County Council seats

Timothy Hurley

Incumbents cruised to victory in the neighbor island County Council races Tuesday night, although a few lost their seats, including veteran Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser and Maui County Councilman Don Couch.

On Kauai, state Rep. Derek Kawakami rejoined the council as he topped 13 candidates vying for seven at-large seats in a replay of August’s primary election. Kawakami served on the Council from 2008 to 2011 before he was appointed to the state House.

Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro was second, followed by Councilmen Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa. Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, the former mayor who was lagging in early returns, climbed to fifth, followed by challenger Arthur Brun, who enjoyed strong union backing.

Councilman Mason Chock captured the seventh and final spot, leaving incumbents KipuKai Kualii and Hooser, the former state senator who has led the anti-GMO movement on Kauai, on the outside looking in, along with Juno Ann Apalla, Norma Doctor Sparks, Richard Fukushima and Matt Ber­nabe.

Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar defeated Lisa Arin, a former deputy prosecutor.

In Maui County, the only incumbent to lose was South Maui Councilman Couch, who was edged out by former state Board of Education member Kelly King by fewer than 150 votes. Couch, a veteran county official, has held the seat since 2010. King is co-founder of Pacific Biodiesel.

Former Councilman Dain Kane lost in a tight race over farmer Alika Atay, who played an active role in a 2014 anti-GMO ballot initiative, for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu seat vacated by Councilman Mike Victorino, who is reaching his term limit. Kane, 54, held the seat from 1998 to 2004.

Yuki Sugimura, vice chairwoman of the Maui County Democratic Party, defeated kumu hula Napua Greig-Nakasone for the Upcountry residency seat being vacated by Councilwoman Gladys Baisa, who also is reaching her term limit.

In the Makawao-Haiku-Paia race, incumbent Mike White beat community activist Trinette Furtado, a self-employed graphic and web designer.

East Maui incumbent Robert Carroll far outpaced educator Shane Sinenci, while West Maui incumbent Elle Cochran trounced Ernest Balinbin, director of the Maui Preparatory Academy food program.

In the Kahului race, incumbent Don Guzman defeated former Maui County Housing and Human Concerns Director Vanessa Medeiros.

Lanai incumbent Riki Hokama trounced Gabe Johnson, an invasive-species technician, while Molokai incumbent Stacy Crivello was in front of environmental lawyer Keani Rawlins-Fernandez.

On Hawaii island, Susan Lee Loy, a legal assistant and land planner, defeated union agent Moana M.H. Kelii for the District 3 seat held by Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, who was term-limited and had unsuccessfully run for the state Senate.

Business educator Eileen Ohara won over business owner Madie Greene in District 4. The winner replaces Greggor Ilagan, who unsuccessfully ran for the state Senate.

The other Big Island Council races were set in August with primary victories that garnered votes of 50 percent or more.

Also determined in August was the only neighbor island mayoral position up for grabs. Former Mayor Harry Kim regained the job after soundly beating former Managing Director Wally Lau and 11 other challengers.


Correction: Maui farmer Alika Atay came from behind in the final vote count early Wednesday morning to overtake former Councilman Dain Kane and win a seat on the Maui County Council, according to the state Office of Elections. An earlier version of this story, based on late Tuesday results, reported Kane died.

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