LIHUE — Two challengers won seats to the Kauai County Council Tuesday night.
Arryl Kaneshiro and KipuKai Kualii earned victories by finishing third and fourth, respectively, bumping incumbents Tim Bynum and Jay Furfaro off the seven-member board.
“We worked really hard and there’s so much people to thank, who saw where we were after the primary and just wanted to make a difference and put in the extra effort to get into the top seven in the general,” said Kualii after garnering a total 9,985 votes, or 5.9 percent of all votes cast in the County Council race. “I’m 52 years old, this is my home, and I care too much — I would always do the work anyway as a community organizer and any other role, but it’s an honor to be on the council. I feel I’ll bring a certain set of skills, experience and passion that no one else can.”
Kaneshiro, who made his first run for political office, came out of the election with a third-place finish after capturing a total of 11,971 votes, or 7.1 percent of all votes cast for County Council.
“We had a lot of support and it really looked good — the support stayed with me, our campaign was positive, and I was hoping for good results, so we ended up good and I’m happy about where I ended up,” Kaneshiro said at his election night party at Puakea Golf Course. “I’m just humbled by all of the support and everybody that has been there for me. We ran a hard campaign, we had a lot of people who came out and dedicated a lot of time, and that means a lot to me. I know they worked hard and now it’s my turn to work hard again even more.”
The top seven vote getters in the 14-candidate race earned council seats. Incumbents Mel Rapozo finished first with 13,147 votes, followed by Ross Kagawa at 12,387.
“I’m very excited — it looks like we’re going to have a new council, or at least a new make up, anyway,” Rapozo said. “I can work with all of the new people on there, and I’m just really, really excited — it has been a long, long two years. I think this is proof that the vocal minority isn’t necessarily the consensus of the people. We’ve got some good talent coming on, so I think it’ll be great — I think we have some new ideas and that’s a good thing.”
Kagawa, who secured a second term on the County Council, agreed.
“I’m just grateful that the primary results held and that tells me and Mel that we continue to do what’s best for the middle class and the poor — I think that has been our focus,” Kagawa said. “Taking that stand and suffering for a couple of years, you don’t do it to just go through the motions — you do it to show the people of Kauai that perhaps the old way of thinking is not the right way of thinking. Instead of nine candidates two years ago, we had 20 candidates, so we did show people that, if we want change, we need to get involved, we need to run, and we need to give these incumbents some competition, and that is exactly what happened.”
JoAnn Yukimura finished fifth with 8,941 votes, Mason Chock ended with 8,730 votes, good for sixth, and Gary Hooser held the seventh spot with 8,257 votes.
Bynum, who co-introduced the controversial Bill 2491, now Ordinance 960 that is being disputed in court, finished in 12th place with 7,602 votes.
“I’ve always accepted what the voters decide, it was a tough election with a lot of rhetoric,” Bynum said Tuesday night after the last of the 16 precincts had been counted. “I’m very pleased that Mason Chock and Gary Hooser both have been elected in the top seven.”
First elected in 2006, Bynum said it was too early to determine what issues led to his loss, but that he would elaborate on the final results later.
“I’ll make those comments in a few days,” he said. “Right now, the voters have decided. It’s been an honor to serve. I have a few more weeks of work to do. There are a lot of important issues and that’s not going to change.
“The most important issue I want to convey is I accept the outcome and congratulations to the winners,” he added.
Hooser, who co-introduced Bill 2491 and was out of the top seven as the early reports came in Tuesday night, said he was disappointed he would no longer be serving with Bynum, but he was happy to be re-elected to a second term since coming back to the council after serving in the Senate.
“It was definitely a nail-biter, that’s for sure, but I’m thankful the people of Kauai have chosen me to serve them,” he said.
He said Ordinance 960 was one of the issues voters considered when casting their ballots, but that Bynum’s loss couldn’t be pinned on one issue. He pointed to the GMO moratorium passing on Maui as proof the topic is a big concern across the state, not just on Kauai.
“Clearly, I played a role in 960 and I was elected,” he said. “I have great respect for councilmember Bynum and will miss serving with him on the County Council. And I just look forward to otherwise working with the new council in the coming year.”
The new council will be sworn in Dec. 1.
Hooser, who beat out eighth-place finisher and council chair Furfaro by 92 votes, said the big issues for the new council to tackle off the bat will be continuing to investigate the property tax and grading and grubbing ordinances and whether chemical companies and landowners have been compliant, and providing affordable workforce housing across the island.
“I just want to thank the voters that voted today because those are the voters that pushed me over the top,” he said.
Billy DeCosta, who finished 13th with 7,243 votes, said he was pleased with his campaign, which saw support from young to kupuna during his election night party in Omao, and was glad to see some of the candidates who made the cut.
“Our island needs Mason Chock. I really wanted to see Mason Chock,” he said of the sixth-place finisher. “I hope Mason and Arryl can bring a fresh, new idea — a fresh, new start.
“I’m happy with my showing,” he added.
Arthur Brun finished ninth with 8,120 votes; Darryl Perry finished 10th with 8,076; Felicia Cowden finished 11th with 7,917 and Tiana Laranio finished 14th with 5,665 votes.