Local Races Kick Off, Heat Up
With the filing deadline in the rearview, the nature of state and county races has taken shape. Eleven candidates are vying to be the next Mayor of Maui County: incumbent Charmaine Tavares will be challenged by former Mayor Alan Arakawa, Sally Chow Hammond, Chris Hart, Marc Hodges, Sol Kaho’ohalahala, Ori Kopelman, Peter Milbourn, Harold Miller, Jonathon Olson and Randy Piltz. It didn’t take long before the first grenade was lobbed between presumed frontrunners Tavares and Arakawa, who ran against each other in 2006. On July 21, the day after the filing deadline, the Tavares camp released a statement condemning comments made the previous week by Arakawa on his KAOI radio show. Addressing costly “security” upgrades made by Tavares to her ninth floor office—which included tile work and koa tables—Arakawa told a caller, “If someone wanted to shoot the Mayor, when you get out of the County building you go to your car, the parking lot’s wide open.” Tavares called Arakawa’s comments “cavalier” and “incomprehensible” and demanded an apology. What she didn’t do is explain how koa tables enhance security.
Meanwhile, three incumbent County Councilmembers will run unopposed; Joe Pontanilla (Kahului), Gladys Baisa (Upcountry) and Danny Mateo (Molokai). In South Maui, Don Couch and Wayne Nishiki will square off in a rematch of the close, controversial 2008 race (Norman Vares is also running in South Maui). The race to replace termed-out Jo Anne Johnson in West Maui drew seven candidates: Su Campos, Eve Clute, Elle Cochran, Alan Fukuyama, Zeke Kalua, Ke’eaumoku Kapu and Paul Laub. Similarly, four candidates are running for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia seat currently held by outgoing Mike Molina; Mary Cochran, Kai Nishiki, Leona Bak Nomura and Mike White. Former Councilmember Riki Hokama is looking to reclaim his Lanai seat and will be opposed by Matt Mano. Incumbents Bill Medeiros (East Maui) and Mike Victorino (Wailuku) also face challenges, from Bob Carroll and Lisa Gapero, respectively.
At the state level, all of Maui’s incumbent Representatives are being challenged; Thomas Cerizo, Justin Hughey, Tasha Kama and Dean Schmucker are taking on District 8 Rep. Joe Souki, who narrowly defeated Kama in 2008; District 9 Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, running in his first election since being appointed in 2009 to replace the late Bob Nakasone, will square off against Jeff Hoylman; in District 10, Ramon Madden and Chayne Marten will try to unseat Rep. Angus McKelvey; Johanna Amorin, George Fontaine and Netra Halperin will duke it out with Rep. Joe Bertram in District 11; District 12 Rep. Kyle Yamashita faces Ray Bashkingy and Laurie Rinaldi; and in District 13, Rep. Mele Carroll is opposed by Meiling Akuna. Finally, State Sen. Shan Tsutsui will face Eric Seibert.
Look for candidate profiles and analysis in the coming weeks, leading up to MauiTime’s endorsements before the September 18 primary.
This is the Disaster Zone
One issue that will surely shape all Hawaii races is water. That issue got an added splash of urgency when U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared all four counties aggriculture disaster areas because of drought. But the declaration isn’t merely aimed at bumming everyone out; it also means farmers are eligible for emergency loans and assistance. For more info, Maui County farmers can call the local USDA Farm Service Agency at 871-5500 ext. 2. Also, do a rain dance.
Water Suit Settled, Water Issues Not
a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Maui Tomorrow and Hui o Na Wai Eha that challenged the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed water treatment plant in Wailuku. The plant is to be built by Alexander & Baldwin and will treat millions of gallons from the Waihe’e River, which will then be delivered via ditches owned by Wailuku Water Company and A&B subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar. Mayor Tavares said the County “agreed to revisit the EIS” because of a recent state Water Commission decision regarding stream flow restoration (a decision that sparked a seperate Earthjustice suit). In a release, Hui o Na Wai Eha President John Duey said his group is “glad the County agreed to resolve this case amicably and sees the need to carefully examine the costs and benefits of this proposal.” Added Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake: “We should be focusing our attention on this historic opportunity to restore the native streams on Maui, instead of devising plans for private water and land development.”