The supporter of County Council Vice Chair Bryan Baptiste didn’t realize how prophetic he was when, on election night, he joked, “It was the first time Kapa’a beat Waimea in a long time.”
Baptiste, a Kapa’a High School graduate living in Wailua Houselots, downed Council Chair Ron Kouchi, who grew up in Kekaha and graduated from Waimea High School, in Tuesday’s mayor’s race, by 1,657 votes, 12,174 to 10,517.
On a precinct-by-precinct basis, the final score was Kapa’a 17, Waimea 4.
Baptiste even took Kouchi at one of Kouchi’s former polling places, Kekaha Neighborhood Center, 501-396, a difference of 105 votes. Baptiste got 53.4 percent of the Kekaha votes cast at that polling place, to 42.2 percent for Kouchi.
Baptiste out-polled Kouchi at 17 of 21 polling places, and bested his friend and colleague by 195 votes among those casting absentee ballots, 3,937 to 3,742, in a performance so dominant at nearly every precinct that it’s a bit surprising Baptiste didn’t win by more than 1,600 votes.
Going geographically from the North Shore down to Lihu’e, it was the Kauai High School polling place where Kouchi, now a Lihu’e resident, scored his first victory, although it was only by 10 votes, 385-375.
The next place where voters picked Kouchi over Baptiste was the Kaumakani Neighborhood Center, but only by 14 votes, 89-75. Kouchi took Baptiste at Waimea Neighborhood Center, by 49 votes, 361-312, and destroyed Baptiste where it mattered least, on Ni’ihau, 50-1.
Baptiste’s largest margin of victory was recorded at Anahola Hawaiian Homes Clubhouse, where his vote total doubled Kouchi’s result, 361 to 171, a difference of 190 votes. Baptiste won 65.2 percent of votes cast in Anahola, to 30.9 percent for Kouchi.
Absentee walk-in and mail-in results were broken down by the Elections Division of the Office of the County Clerk by state House district, and the two candidates split evenly the six designations, with Baptiste doing better on the North Shore and Eastside, and Kouchi doing better on the South Shore and Westside.
It was the first election Kouchi ever lost. For 20 years and 10 elections, he was chosen to represent Kaua’i and Ni’ihau as a part of the seven-member County Council.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).