On plunking, block voting and breaking through the #14 mark

The absentee ballots have been mailed, walk in voting is happening now, and on Aug. 11, it will all be over. On Sunday morning there will be only two mayoral candidates still standing, and the list of council hopefuls will be cut in half.

For the vast majority of candidates the primary is everything. While word on the street as to who will be the top mayoral vote getter is fairly consistent, predicting who will take the #2 slot and also proceed to the general election is more difficult.

Most seem to expect that the results of the night for the mayor’s race will pit the yin and yang of Kauai’s community psyche against each other in the general.

On the council side, there likely are only three or four seats in play for the primary.

Most will agree that the present incumbents will easily make the cut. Next in line are former councilmembers, then come former candidates who have run in recent past elections. This number quickly gets to 11.

The pecking order seems pretty obvious. Those candidates who already have a political base and increased name recognition, should make it through the primary thus leaving only three, perhaps four seats, out of the 14 available for all of the newcomers to fight over.

My personal “primary election strategy” is to support one incumbent, and then two or three other “new” candidates either who have run in the past (and thus built name recognition and have a chance to actually win) and/or who are brand new but fully engaged in running a strong campaign. My goal is that these candidates finish “up the list” and strong in the primary so that they will be poised to keep moving “up” in the general.

Which leads me to explain the importance of block voting, plunking and in general resisting the urge to go “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” when voting for council candidates.

The ballot will say “vote for up to seven” or similar language, but the fundamental rule of akamai Kauai voting is: Do not use all seven votes when choosing your Kauai County Council candidates.

If you feel equally supportive of all seven candidates you choose or perhaps have your own strategy you believe in, then go ahead of course, but using all seven votes risks having your own vote hurt those candidates who are your very favorites.

Experienced Kauai voters voters might cast one vote or perhaps up to five votes but rarely do they go beyond this number.

An example of how casting votes for too many candidates can work to the detriment of the candidate you are most interested in getting elected:

There are 24 candidates running for the 14 council seats in the primary.

The candidate’s mother goes to vote.

Mom votes for her child (naturally) and then pauses and decides to vote for another candidate who has been especially nice to good ol’ mom during the campaign. Mom’s favorite candidate (her child) then loses the election by one vote to that other candidate and very nice person mom decided to vote for also.

Bottom line is that in most Kauai Council elections — moms, grandmas, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, and children of the candidate will often only cast one vote in the Kauai County council race.

This is called “plunking”. Others have their definition for plunking but this is how I have come to know the term.

While I appreciate a mom’s right to choose to plunk for their son or daughter, I am encouraging my friends to “block vote” rather than plunk.

After all in order to accomplish anything on the council there needs to be at least four councilmembers in alignment, preferably five.

Block voting is an expanded variation of the one vote, all powerful plunk.

Block voting means casting three to five votes at the most but the same principal applies. The voter selects only those candidates whom they truly want to get elected, whom they believe truly represent their core values — and they resist giving their remaining votes to candidates whom might as a result, beat their favorites.

Please vote on Aug. 11. Research all of the candidates, select your top 3, 4 or 5 and vote only for those you truly believe will represent your core values.

Fundamental Rule: Do not guess, or just vote on name familiarity. If you don’t know who to vote for, best not to vote at all.

Though I am open and public about who I am supporting on my blog (https://garyhooser.blog) and on Facebook, out of respect for all of the candidates running, I will not post those names here.

Mahalo to all who choose to run for public office and put their lives out into the public sphere in an effort to make our community a better place. Let’s honor and support them by at least showing up to vote on Aug. 11.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.


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