Trump takes Ni‘ihau; Kaneshiro, Chock battle for council chair

Voters on Ni‘ihau were unanimous in their support for electing President Donald Trump to a second term. All 43 votes cast in Kaua‘i District 16 – Precinct 06 went to the Trump/Pence ticket, with zero cast for Biden/Harris.

Interestingly, Ni‘ihau voters also selected former Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. as their top choice for the Kaua‘i County Council.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won every other precinct on Kaua‘i, with the final countywide outcome 62.3%, or 21,217 votes, for Biden/Harris versus, 34.0%, or 11,579 votes, for Trump/Pence.

The No. 1 choice among all Kaua‘i voters for County Council was Mason K. Chock.

The final rankings for the Kaua‘i County Council, followed by their number of votes, follows:

Chock, 18,592;

Luke A. Evslin, 17,368;

Arryl Kaneshiro, 16,550;

Carvalho, 16,345;

Billy DeCosta, 14,516;

Felicia Cowden, 14,388;

KipuKai Kuali‘i, 13,960.

Out of the running at No. 8 was Dr. Addison Bulosan with 11,735 votes, which while definitely a respectable showing, was over 2,000 votes shy of the coveted No. 7 slot. As is quite often the case, those candidates who finished in the top seven during the primary election also went on to win in the general.

It looks like the selection of the council chair may already be a done deal. While the selection of the next council chair officially occurs during the first formal meeting of the new council on Dec. 1, a recent news report indicates the decision has, at least tentatively, already been made.

Interesting but not unusual is that it appears that the votes have all been lined up before the council meeting, and before the public has had any opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

According to the report, the present Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro and Councilmember Mason Chock are both seeking the chairmanship, and apparently Kaneshiro has secured commitments for the four votes needed, his own vote plus three additional votes.

The council has scheduled a meeting to discuss the election of the chair and other matters for today at 9 a.m. Testimony sent to counciltestimony@kauai.gov, even if late, is encouraged, since the actual vote will not occur until Dec. 1.

Chock has for many years been without question “the people’s choice,” consistently gaining more votes islandwide than any other councilmember. He is a trained facilitator, small-business owner and certified leadership trainer.

Kaneshiro is an executive with Grove Farm Company, arguably the most-influential land-owner in Kaua‘i County. Kaneshiro has pledged to refrain from voting on any matter before the council that directly impacts his employer.

One example of their different perspectives would be Bill 2775. Chock was a sponsor of Bill 2775, banning the use and sale of polystyrene food and drink containers. Kaneshiro opposed the measure and, along with Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa voted no. The measure ultimately passed into law with a 4 to 2 vote, making Kaua‘i the very last county in the state to pass such a ban.

The bottom line as to who ultimately become the council chair is whoever can get four votes. Word on the street has it that the initial vote count was equally divided, with Kaneshiro and Chock both having three votes (including their own). Incoming Councilmember DeCosta is now apparently positioned as the “swing vote” that effectively decides which of the two will be the next chair of the council.

If the news report is accurate, DeCosta has apparently decided to throw his support to Kaneshiro and block Chock’s quest to lead the council.

The ink on the 2020 campaign brochures is barely dry, and yet upon this crucial first vote of the council, the 2022 campaign begins. Welcome to politics, elections and long memories.

Years ago, at the conclusion of one of my own long and hard-fought campaigns, I said to my young daughter, who was about 12 years old at the time, “Kelli-Rose, aren’t you glad that the campaign is over?” Without missing a beat she responded, “Are you kidding dad? It’s never over.”

•••

Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.

6 Comments
  1. kauaiboy November 18, 2020 8:04 am Reply

    SO interesting that every vote from Ni’ihau came in for Trump. It makes we wonder if residents there have access to the same information we on Kauai receive. It also makes me wonder about the influence that the Robinson family over Ni’ihau’s population.

    Also interesting that the top vote-getter in the council election is not automatically named Council Chair. Can Billy DeCosta explain his vote?

    And what is this new hubbub about Arryl Kaneshiro and an “Omao Hub” in today’s Letters to the Editor? Is there any truth to the charge that our re-appointed Council Chair introduced legislation that benefited him personally?

    TGI, an investigative story about such a charge is indicated. Do your job, journalists.


  2. Ikashibi November 18, 2020 11:07 am Reply

    Re: Trump takes Ni’ihau. To be expected from a modern form of feudalism.


  3. Dogg November 18, 2020 11:51 am Reply

    Congrats, Gary this is the first piece you’ve written that wasn’t some communist socialist diatribe, (unless I’m missing something between the lines) good work


  4. George Ho November 18, 2020 5:15 pm Reply

    Seems the good residents of Ni‘ihau actually have their eyes and ears open! The 21K purported snowflake voters on Kauai should get ready melt, once this farce of an election has purged the illegal and illegitimate votes.


    1. HoHoHo November 18, 2020 10:20 pm Reply

      Complaining about a few votes when losing by a few million? Sounds like snowflake behavior.


    2. kauaiboy November 19, 2020 5:49 am Reply

      Mr. George Ho-

      The 11k purported autocratic-hopeful voters on Kauai should prepare for a Biden presidency, and a return to a more sane and normal world. tRump’s defeat obviously has your teats in a twist. Face it…he has been FIRED by the electorate. Denying that will only make you stew.


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