Kaneshiro on outside looking in

rimary leaves council incumbent with ground to make up

By DENNIS WILKEN

TGI Staff Writer

When all was said and done,

less than 40 percent of Kaua`i’s 33,999 registered voters went to the polls in

Saturday’s primary election.

There were no real surprises, although you

might get an argument from at least one incumbent Kaua’i County Council

member.

Bill (Kaipo) Asing, the former councilman who failed in a 1998 bid

for mayor, may be rebuilding his power base. He garnered 8,115 votes, finishing

a strong third out of 16 candidates.

Only two incumbents – Bryan Baptiste,

who repeated as top votegetter with 8,881, and Randal Valenciano, who polled

8,136 votes (21 more than Asing) – topped Asing.

After absentee ballots

were counted first Saturday night, Billy Swain was the odd incumbent out if the

primary was deciding the seven winners and not just narrowing a 16-candidate

field down to 14 finalists for the general election in November.

But when

all the votes were tabulated, Swain had rallied into seventh place with 5,866

votes, 375 more than fellow first-time Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro, who polled

5,491.

One incumbent who finished strongly despite not always agreeing with

his fellow council members was Gary Hooser, who is finishing his first term.

Hooser polled 7,058 votes, good enough for sixth place, almost 1,200 votes

ahead of Swain.

“I was very satisfied. We’ve been working hard. It would

have been nice to run even stronger, so we’ll go back out and cover every

neighborhood,” Hooser said.

When reminded that there haven’t been too many

significant changes in vote totals between the primary and November’s final

election, Hooser wouldn’t rest on his laurels.

“There may or may not be any

changes. But this was a much lower turnout in the primary than we had in 1998.

Everyone is expecting a bigger (voter) turnout for the general election,” he

said.

Hooser said the past is past.

“We’ll focus on the issues before

us. The need for jobs. Crime,” he noted.

John Barretto, another former

council member trying to make a comeback, finished a distant ninth with 3,896

(3.8%) votes.

First-time candidate Rhoda Libre was behind Barretto in 10th

place with 2,441 votes. Libre expressed some disappointment at the

results.

“I surely did hope to do better, but I pretty much expected what

happened,” she said. “I definitely will be out there (on the campaign trail) a

lot more. I campaigned hard, but now I’ll go back to some of the other doors I

missed.”

Election observors attributed the low balloting in the primary at

least partially to voters figuring it didn’t really matter. They knew almost

every candidate would advance to the general election. Only Roger Ridgley, with

621 votes, and perennial candidate Bob Cariffe, with 1,003, failed to move

forward.

Ridgley expressed surprise at his vote total.

“I didn’t think

I was going to get that much. I didn’t go out there and hang campaign signs. I

didn’t have the time or financial resources,” Ridgley said, adding, “I’ll

definitely run again. Everybody says they want change, but you won’t get that

if you keep putting the same people back.”

In the three-man race for the

Kaua`i seat on the state Board of Education, incumbent Mitsugi Nakashima (4,676

votes) and challenger Sherwood Hara 4,539 votes) both moved on to the general

election. Challenger Bill Georgi (1,466 votes) was eliminated.

Staff

writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and

dwilken@pulitzer.net

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