BY LESTER CHANGTGI Staff Writer

LIHU’E — With only one exception, six of the seven incumbent Kaua’i County

Council members were among the top votegetters in a field of 16 council

candidates in yesterday’s primary election.

With only 11 percent of the

vote totals reported by about 9 p.m., incumbent Billy Swain had captured 1,511

votes, good enough for the eighth spot.

Bill “Kaipo” Asing, a former

councilman who ran for mayor in 1998, came in fourth, garnering 2,249

votes.

Few veteran election watchers expected any of the seven incumbents

to finish out of the primary running.

The 11 percent represented only 3,677

of the island’s 33,999 votes — primarily walk-in voters and those who voted

by absentee mail, according to county clerk Peter Nakamura.

The first

election results reflected none of the votes cast at any of the 19 precincts

islandwide.

Councilman Bryan Baptiste came in first with 2,324 votes.

Councilman Randal Valenciano came in second with 2,274 votes, followed by

Councilman Ron Kouchi (third with 2,249 votes), Asing, and council members

James Tokioka (fifth with 1,978 votes), Gary Hooser (sixth with 1,649 votes)

and Daryl Kaneshiro (seventh with 1,649 votes.

Political observers say

the fact that most of the incumbents received the highest number of votes

indicates residents support their decision on key issues.

They include the

rezoning of the Alexander and Baldwin lands in Po’ipu for a new resort and

approval of tax laws that protect small-time farming and ranching.

In early

poll results, John Barretto Jr., a former council member and a mayoral

candidate in 1986, came in ninth with 813 votes.

Barretto said he could win

a council seat in the general election in November if he stayed within range

of the top seven votegetters.

The other remaining seven candidates fared

this way:

l Cayetano “Sonny” Gerardo ,a former Kaua’i County civil defense

director, notched 661 votes.

l Kauilani Kahalekai had 472 votes.

l

Rhoda Libre collected 416 votes.

l Joseph Prigge Jr. garnered 362

votes.

l Anne Donovan captured 269 votes.

l Bob Cariffe finished in

15th position with 210 votes.

l Roger A. Ridgley Sr. finish in the last

spot with 130 votes.

Bob Meyers received 94 votes, but they didn’t count.

Meyers died while in Washington, D.C. for a Hawaiian sovereignty demonstration

this summer.

The 14 top votegetters for council who remain after ballots

are tabulated will compete for seven seats in the Nov. 7 general election.

Political observers say those who finished after the first seven top

finishers have to campaign harder and spend more if they want to win a council

seat.

Donovan said she doesn’t believe coming in after the first seven

slots will hurt her chances in the general election.

“If you really want do

this job, if you really want to do what you say are going to do, you don’t give

up,” she said.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681

(ext. 225) and lchang@pulitzer.net

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