Retired state judge Richard Bissen looks to have a good shot at unseating Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino in a November runoff election after drawing the most votes in Saturday’s mayoral primary election.
Bissen, a former county prosecutor, finished ahead of Victorino by about eight hundred votes, with only the ballots from Molokai and Lanai left to be counted.
In addition to Victorino and Bissen, who far outpaced the other candidates in fundraising, the competition in the mayor’s race was relatively stiff. But falling short were environmentally minded County Councilmember Kelly King, who entered the race only in June, and Michael Molina, an experienced councilmember who chairs the Committee on Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency.
King, who represents South Maui, finished third in Saturday’s voting, followed by business owner Kim Brown and Molina, who represents Makawao, Haiku and Paia. King and Molina both relinquished their council seats to run for mayor.
Other council incumbents with contested races advanced to the Nov. 8 general election. Tasha Kama, representing Kahului, will be running against Buddy Nobriga, while Tom Cook and Robin Knox will compete for King’s former South Maui seat. Nohe Uu-Hodgins will face off against Dave DeLeon for Molina’s seat.
Yuki Lei Sugimura looked to be a shoo-in for reelection, collecting three times as many votes in the Upcountry race over her next closest challenger, Jordan Hocker.
In his first term as mayor, Victorino was tasked with steering Maui through the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, and then an overwhelming resurgence in tourism that was unwelcome to many residents. In 2021, he faced a recall campaign by residents concerned about COVID-19 vaccine mandates and a litany of other grievances.
Victorino, a former insurance executive and father of retired Major League Baseball player Shane Victorino, was elected mayor in 2018. He served 10 years as a councilmember until reaching his term limit in 2016.
Go to https://staradvertiser.com/election for updates, resources and live results from today’s Hawaii Primary Election.