The incumbents seeking another two-year term on the Kaua‘i County Council received enough votes at the primary yesterday to advance to the general election on Nov. 4.
Council members Jay Furfaro, Tim Bynum, Ron Kouchi and Daryl Kaneshiro finished among the top five of the 22 candidates seeking a seat on the seven-member legislative body.
Bill “Kaipo” Asing also secured enough votes to move on in the non-partisan council race. He stepped down from his position as council chair in July to serve as mayor until Dec. 1 after Bryan Baptiste died June 22 with two years left on his term in office.
Aside from the incumbents, the other candidates who will advance to the general election are, in order of most votes received to least: Dickie Chang, Derek Kawakami, Lani Kawahara, KipuKai Kuali‘i, Ron Agor, Christobel Kealoha, George Thronas Jr., Rhoda Libre and Bruce Pleas.
Bynum, who has put his work as a marriage family therapist on hold to serve as a full-time council member, said he was delighted with the results.
“I’m in the top seven, I’m happy,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve ever done at this stage … the more people that vote the better.”
The 53-year-old Wailua resident, who finished third yesterday, said he finished eighth in the primary last election and his first bid for council was unsuccessful.
“I figured voters have had a couple years to see me in action,” Bynum said. “If the voters choose to put me back there, I’ll be pleased.”
The first-term councilman said he looks forward to the rest of the campaign over the next six weeks and plans to “keep meeting voters, keep serving on the council and doing the best job I can for Kaua‘i.”
Furfaro, a 59-year-old retired resort manager who currently serves as council chair, said he was “very flattered” by primary results putting him at the top of the leader board.
“I’m very excited about them recognizing the value and continuity I would bring,” he said, humbly.
The Hanalei resident, who is seeking a fourth council term, said as the campaign moves forward he will look to his support group of volunteers to continue to get his message out about collaboration and working hard for the people.
Furfaro said the early primary results, which consisted mostly of absentee votes, were the best he has had. Last election, he said he was fourth.
“I’m very pleased,” he said, speaking from an election party in Kapa‘a.
Kouchi, who is seeking his 12th term on the council, said he has been in elections with large fields before but this year’s boasts the largest number of qualified candidates who have campaigned hard and want to serve the people of Kaua‘i.
The 50-year-old Lihu‘e resident, who works for Showe Land and Marine LLC, said between now and Nov. 4 he plans to spend more time going door to door, meeting with the electorate in small groups and holding a fundraising event in October.
Kouchi, the fourth-highest vote-getter yesterday, said he was “happy to be in the top seven” after the first batch of primary results was released.
Asing, a 77-year-old Lihu‘e resident who has served on the council for 24 years, could not be reached for comment at press time. As mayor for the past couple months, he has kept the Baptiste administration in place and together moved forward.
Asing was the second highest vote-getter yesterday.
Kaneshiro, a 59-year-old Westside farmer and rancher, said he was encouraged by the early election results showing him in the top seven. He finished fifth when the final results were announced after 9 p.m.
During his campaigns over the course of the past decade, he said the message he has hammered home is that Kaua‘i can be self-sufficient “as we were in the old days.”
Kaneshiro served four terms on the council but lost his bid for a fifth last election.
However, the council appointed Kaneshiro to fill the empty seat created when Asing resigned this summer to temporarily serve as mayor.
Kaneshiro said his being near the top of the field of candidates shows the island is interested in heading in a direction of agricultural preservation and island self-sufficiency.
The third generation farmer said he is out there in the fields “doing the hands-on thing.”
Kaneshiro attributed the push in this direction to the high costs of food, fuel and energy.
He, like the other incumbents, extended his “deepest appreciation” to the people he has served and the supporters who made it possible.
“No matter where else you go in this world, there’s no place else like Kaua‘i,” Kaneshiro said.
The top 14 vote-getters in the Kaua‘i County Council race, by far the state’s largest, advance to the general election. All seven seats are voted on an at-large basis.
During candidate forums, the top county issues identified were solid waste, transportation, energy, affordable housing, development and open government.