Candidates hit homestretch

In a political season strewn with special circumstances, there are in effect five incumbents running in the 14-candidate race for seven seats on the Kaua‘i County Council.

Hundreds of residents have already cast their ballots via mail-in and walk-in absentee voting options, but thousands more are expected to flock to polling sites Tuesday.

After Mayor Bryan Baptiste unexpectedly died in office on June 22, Council Chair Bill “Kaipo” Asing stepped down to serve as the county’s chief executive until Dec. 1 when newly elected candidates take office.

Former Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro was appointed to fill the vacant seat, essentially adding a non-elected incumbent to the race when he later announced his intention to seek a full two-year term.

With Council members JoAnn Yukimura, Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho not returning since they decided to run for other elected offices, there will be at least two new faces on the legislative body.

For the past few months, first-time and frequent candidates have been traveling down this road paved by unprecedented events, stopping to stump at political forums and otherwise vie for votes.

Council members Jay Furfaro, Ron Kouchi and Tim Bynum joined Asing and Kaneshiro in the list of top seven vote-getters at the Sept. 20 primary along with newcomers Derek Kawakami and Dickie Chang.

They will be looking to hold onto those positions at the general election against the other seven candidates: Bruce Pleas, Lani Kawahara, Christobel Kealoha, Rhoda Libre, George Thronas Jr., Ron Agor and KipuKai Kuali‘i.

With a higher voter turnout expected, only time will tell which seven members will compose the next council.

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