LIHUE — All of the Kauai County Council candidates who came in at the bottom five during the recent primary election plan to continue in the race.
“Are we supposed to quit?” said Matt Bernabe. “I don’t mind losing. I lost a leg, so I can deal with a loss.”
Bernabe, who ended the primary race in last place with 2,264 votes, or 2.1 percent, said the loss inspired him to work harder going into the Nov. 8 general election.
“I’m kicking into drive; I was in neutral this whole time,” he said. “Considering I didn’t put as much energy into the campaign as other candidates, I didn’t expect the glory or to be the contender.”
For the next three months, Bernabe plans to canvas neighborhoods, put a banner on the roundabout at the Kapaa Bypass and buy a bigger sign for sign-waving.
The 42-year-old challenger also wants people to know he used to go by a different last name, Miller, which is prominent in the Kapaa community.
“I don’t like to share it, but I need to get that name out there,” he said. “I grew up Matt Miller, and that name is known by people around the island.”
If people knew his original last name was Miller, which was given to him by his stepfather, Bernabe said he may have gotten more votes in the primary election.
“I’ve been Matt Bernabe for 20 years,” he said. “I took my wife’s name because I wanted my kids to grow up with a blood name.”
Incumbent Gary Hooser came in ninth at the primary. He received 5,035 votes, or 4.7 percent.
“Our campaign for re-election has not missed a beat and we will continue reaching out to the voters of Kauai all the way through until the general election,” he said.
The Wailua Homesteads resident served on the County Council from 1998 to 2002. He returned to the council in 2012.
“The primary was essentially a reality check for all candidates, and clearly, winning in November will be all about increasing voter turnout,” he said.
His campaign is focusing on traffic relief, affordable housing and agriculture.
“Historically, my issue focus and core values have been based on environmental protection, slow growth and honest, open government,” the 62-year-old said.
Juno-Ann Apalla, a newcomer to the race, ended 10th in the primary election with 3,603 votes, or 3.4 percent.
“We have an exceptional opportunity to move into the top seventh position,” she said. “I’m grateful for the results in the primary election. It places us within a select group of people who earned a unique position to move toward a successful campaign.”
If elected, the 28-year-old hopes to represent the millennial generation by bridging the gap between the inequities — like generational leadership and community feedback — she sees on Kauai.
“I’m grateful for those who have faith in what I offer and the hope that we can build a bridge for change,” Apalla said.
To prepare for November, Apalla’s campaign plans to host coffee talks, family dinners and a door-to-door campaign.
“We have two fundraisers coming up designed specifically to raise funds, and then we will get to as many doors as I can make these short Filipina legs to walk,” the Lihue resident said.
Norma Doctor Sparks, who is also a newbie to the County Council race, came in 11th in the primary. She ended the night with 3,456 votes, or 3.2 percent.
“They’re disappointing results, but it’s good information from the low turnout,” she said.
Doctor Sparks is running on a platform that includes tightening the county budget and transparency.
“I’m still striving to give out my message of government transparency and accountability until the general election,” the 66-year-old Koloa resident said.
Richard Fukushima, challenger, came in 12th at the primary with 2,782 votes, or 2.6 percent.
“I was very satisfied with the results of the primary. Talking story with a lot of my friends, I feel the love and support from them,” he said. “They are very happy for me and are continually supporting me and congratulating me.”
Campaigning is different from how it was in the past, he said.
“Door-to-door campaign, sign waving seems to be different,” the 71-year-old said. “I would like to keep a low-key, inexpensive campaign.”
The Kapaa resident plans to have another fundraiser, do some sign waving, host a meet-and-greet and go door-to-door.
“The campaign process does not change, only the candidates,” he said. “I have observed the ‘I promise’ syndrome; I don’t promise anything. But I will try my best to work with the (council) to come to agreement for what is best for the people of Kauai.”
Fukushima is running on a platform that includes initiatives that support seniors and veterans on the island.
The final results of the Kauai County Council primary election.
- Derek Kawakami: 10,153, or 9.5 percent
- Ross Kagawa: 8,147, or 7.6 percent
- Arryl Kaneshiro: 8,105, or 7.6 percent
- Mel Rapozo: 7,966 , or 7.5 percent
- KipuKai Kuali’i: 6,169, or 5.8 percent
- Arthur Brun: 6,075, or 5.7 percent
- Mason Chock: 5,610, or 5.2 percent
- JoAnn Yukimura: 5,570, or 5.2 percent
- Gary Hooser: 5,035, or 4.7 percent
- Juno-Ann Apalla: 3,603, or 3.4 percent
- Norma Doctor Sparks: 3,456, or 3.2 percent
- Richard Fukushima: 2,782, or 2.6 percent
- Matt Bernabe: 2,264 , or 2.1 percent
All 13 of the Kauai County Council candidates advanced to the general election.