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Council member Gladys Baisa stops by to say hello at a mostly empty ILWU election night gathering.

Primary 2016 – The Thrill Is Gone

Election night 2016 was characterized by low turnout, little energy, no magic, and only a few surprises.

The night’s most unexpected finish was in the race for the vacant Wailuku County Council seat where former council member Dane Kane, finished first with 6,443 votes, while first time candidate Alika Atay came in second with 6,354. Trailing the leaders was the presumed favorite Keith Regan, the county’s managing director, with 6,017, followed by Joe Blackburn 4,439 and Hana Steel 1,424. Kane and Atay, the top two vote getters in the county wide non-partisan race will face each other in the November.

Leaders in the UpCounty County Council seat race were YukiLei Sugimura (10,048) and Napua Greig-Nakasone (6,841) who will go on to the general. Stacey Moniz and Eric Molina trailed the leaders

In the evening’s most controversial race for the State Representative in South Maui’s District 11 incumbent Kaniela Ing despite his own problems with the law held on to his seat (2,117). He won in the face of a vigorous and well-funded challenge from Democratic opponent Deidre Tegarden (1,219). Ing will face Republican Danny Pekus in the November general.

Primary Election 2016 2
Kaniela Ing stops by the Akaku studios with his son Laguna to chat with Chivo Ching-Johnson.

Coming closest to pulling off an upset was first-time candidate Tiare Lawrence (2,411). She came within a whisker of unseating incumbent Kyle Yamashita (2,763) in the Democratic race for State Representative District 12 covering Pukalani, Makawao, and Kula.

The two new wrinkles in the 2016 primary were the emergence of many well-qualified women candidates; and the formation of an alternative slate populated by mainly newcomers to the political process. Ing, Atay and Lawrence were all endorsed as “huli da system” slate choices.

Despite a well-publicized efforts which did indeed increase voter registration county wide to a high of 91,138, turnout was a pathetic 26,992 votes (29.6%) which were cast by mail, early walk-ins and at the polls on Sat. August 13.

A breakdown of the turnout numbers showed 10,892 votes cast at the various precincts by those who went to the polls to vote. Of those 9,466 were in Democratic races. Absentee voting totaled 16,100, of that number 13,865 were in the Democratic primary.

Except for the few new faces in the open council seats, incumbents prevailed or led the options in Federal, State and County races county wide.

The election night magic and electricity of prior years seem definitely a thing of the past. Gatherings were small and quiet. Even at the ILWU hall, formerly the site of large and boisterous election night parties, there were barely 40 people present. The union hall was a large room with many unfilled chairs. The atmosphere was subdued verging on catatonic.

Likewise, at Akaku, the community television cable station which covered the event live and is normally extremely well populated on election night, the attendance was steady and the chat upbeat, but the vibe was distinctly low key.

One thing that has been seemingly clear, is that union support doesn’t carry the weight it once had in the past. ILWU and UPW have supported losers this go around and in 2014, the same rang true for candidates they backed back then.

Finally, the electorate has spoken time and time again that they do not want any Arakawa cronies on the County Council. In 2014, all executive assistants that ran lost. In 2016, his own managing director- the mayor’s right-hand man- lost the Wailuku race.

A summary of results for Maui County can be found at:

http://results.elections.hawaii.gov/2016/primary/com.pdf

To take an In-depth look at precinct results statewide go to:

http://results.elections.hawaii.gov/2016/primary/precinct.pdf

Results for Maui can be found can be found on pages 130 through 235.

Neldon Mamuad contributed to this story.

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About Susan Halas

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Susan Halas is a Senior Political Contributor at MAUIWatch. She has followed Hawaii politics since 1976 when she moved to the Valley Isle. She was formerly a staff writer for the Maui News as well as other local print and digital publications.

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