While the Kaua‘i County Council will have a decidedly different look over the next two years simply by virtue of some members vacating their seats for other elected offices, four recent members, including three incumbents, were re-elected to the county’s governing body in yesterday’s General Election.
Jay Furfaro, Tim Bynum, Daryl Kaneshiro and Bill “Kaipo” Asing, who all spent at least part of 2008 on the council, earned new two-year terms.
With 17 of 17 precincts reporting, Furfaro’s 11,541 votes led the pack, with newcomer Derek Kawakami (11,306), Bynum (11,109), Asing (10,869), neophytes Lani Kawahara (10,700) and Dickie Chang (9,927), and Kaneshiro (9,752) set to join him in the 2008-2010 council.
“I’m very pleased I’m back on the council,” said Furfaro, who was first elected in 2002 and served as the council’s chair starting in July when Asing resigned to fill the mayor’s seat vacated by Bryan Baptiste’s June passing. “I want to do my part in what will be challenging times.”
Ron Kouchi served on the council for two decades before an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2002, returned to council chambers in 2006, but finished eighth in the voting yesterday and will not be back.
Kouchi believed the larger desire for change ended up ousting him from the council.
“Clearly President-Elect (Barack) Obama brought out a lot of new people that haven’t voted before. There’s a lot of change in the offing,” he said yesterday. “We did everything we could do. … The people have spoken, and you have to be respectful.”
Asked if he would seek a seat in the 2010 election, Kouchi would not rule it out but declined to confirm any intentions.
“At this point, I think I’m going to be interested in taking a sleep-in tomorrow, and a few days off. The time to reflect and make plans is when you’re removed from such an emotional period,” he said.
“I’ve had privelege of serving for 22 years, I certainly want to thank everyone who has supported me. I really appreciate having been given the chance.”
Bynum, who was first elected in 2006 and yesterday earned a second two-year term, said he was surprised by Kouchi’s loss.
“I didn’t see that coming. I have deep respect for him and I learned lots from him,” Bynum said of his colleague. “I trust the voters, I think they make good decisions and they’ve spoken. Everyone who was elected tonight is optimistic about working together to do what’s best for Kaua‘i.
“It’s pretty exciting; a new president, a new mayor, and the council will have a new makeup. I’m an optimist, I’m looking forward to the future.”
Kaneshiro parlayed a short-term appointment into a revitalized political career. After serving four terms on the council before losing his seat in 2006, Kaneshiro was tapped to fill Asing’s seat in July.
Not making the cut were Kouchi (9,280 votes), KipuKai Kuali‘i (7,990), Christobel Kealoha (7,584), Ron Agor (7,379), Bruce Pleas (5,800), George Thronas Jr. (5,149) and Rhoda Libre (4,899). Nearly 25,000 ballots were cast, with each one throwing support to as many as seven candidates.
Former members JoAnn Yukimura and Mel Rapozo will not be back after failed runs for mayor, and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho will serve as the county prosecutor after running for the post unopposed.
• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org