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General Election 2018: Maui Voters Somewhat Split on Ideals

Natalie "Tasha" Kama beat outgoing Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa convincingly for the Kahului council seat. Photo credit: Susan Halas.

When the smoke cleared, after months of campaigning, sign waving, fund raising and door knocking Maui County voters proved somewhat split agenda when they divided their vote between candidates representing old school politics and those identified with a more progressive point of view.

Mauians picked a new mayor from the retro wing of local politics and a nine member county council with a majority of five drawn from the ranks of “Huli 2018” – Ohana faction. The remaining four council members – who will be the new minority – are either incumbents or former council members who have returned to public life after a hiatus of many years.

The mayor and council races were all non-partisan, i.e. the candidate did not state a party preference and local voters could vote in all the races. The final print out for the 2018 election appeared at 2:38 a.m.

For mayor, voters chose long-time political veteran Michael Victorino. He who won the top office convincingly with a vote total of 27,057 (53.6%), beating opponent Elle Cochran, who trailed with 22,078 (43.8%).

For county council voters selected five of the “Huli-Ohana” slate to form a new majority led by Kelly King. She was the only incumbent in the new majority line up. King representing South Maui was the top vote getter in local races with a tally of 30,855 (61.2%) and is the likely choice for chair, especially since she is the only member of the new majority who has previously served in public office.

King was joined by Natalie “Tasha” Kama, the winner of the Kahului seat with 28,454 (56.4%). Kama, mother of 11, who had made several prior bids for elected office, decisively toppled veteran politician Alan Arakawa, Maui’s present mayor. He lagged far behind with 17,580 (34.8%).

Tamara Paltin took the West Maui seat with 28,268 (56%); Shane Sinenci nailed East Maui 23,573 (46.7%) and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez rounded out the new majority when she narrowly overtook incumbent Stacy Helm Crivello on the third print out to take the Molokai seat with 22,049 (43.7%).

The new four member minority are incumbent Yukilei Sugimura, who was re-elected to the Kula seat with 27,250 (54%). Mike Molina won the Makawao-Haiku-Paia seat with 24,170 (47.9%) and Alice Lee captured Wailuku with 23,656 (46.9%). Both Molina and Lee were previously retired council member who re-entered public life for the 2018 contest. Long serving incumbent council member Riki Hokama retained the Lanai seat with 22,414 (44.4%) to bring up the ideological rear. It remains to be seen if he will retain his powerful chairmanship of the Budget and Finance committee in the new scheme of things where he is no longer part of the majority.

Echoing the national trend that saw women candidate swept into office throughout Mainland America, the new council has six women: of these four – King, Kama, Paltin, and Rawlins-Fernandez are in the majority group, while two Sugimura and Lee are in the new minority. The three men on the council are majority member Sinenci, and minority members Molina and Hokama.

In a interesting twist, while voters selected Victorino, the more traditional candidate for mayor, there are new rules in place requiring mayoral appointments for department heads to seek council approval for confirmation. This new requirement may lead to some interesting conversations in the not too distant future.

In the smaller races for local State House and State Senate seats Maui voters selected incumbent Roz Baker (D) for State Senate District 6-South and West Maui 8,911 (60.9%). They also re-elected incumbent Angus McKelvey (D) to the State House District 10 – West Maui 3,673 (56.3%). Incumbent Lynn DeCoite (D), State House District 13 – East Maui, Molokai and Lanai was also returned to office with a vote total of 5,787 (65.9%). For Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Maui Resident Trustee, incumbent Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey retained her post with a Maui vote of 21,004 (41.6%). The statewide the total for Lindsey was 121,906 (30.6%).

On countywide charter amendments Mauians approved stiffer penalties for those who violate temporary vacation rental rules 26,045 (51.6%), and also agreed to allow funds set aside for acquisition of open space to be used for related purposes such as improvement and maintenance of that space 30,389 (60.2%). Maui voters rejected a new way to submit claims against the county 21,880 (60.2%).

In statewide races Mauians favored incumbent Governor David Ige (D) and his running mate Lt. Governor Josh Green giving them 32,059 votes (63.5%); statewide that total was 244,814 (61.4%).

On the one statewide ballot measure Maui voters joined the rest of the Hawaii in soundly rejecting convening a Constitutional Convention. Maui no votes on the Con-Con totaled 32,587 (64.6%). Hawai`i as a whole cast 275,157 no votes (69.1%).

Maui supported the re-election of US Senator Mazie Hirono 37,628 (74.5%). Her statewide total was 276,133 (69.3%). Maui County voters also supported incumbent Tulsi Gabbard running for the US House District II representing rural Oahu and the Neighbor islands. The Maui total for Gabbard was 39,775 (78.8%), throughout District II it was 153,132 (74%).

Overall total registration countywide was 96,721, the turnout was 50,475 (52.2%). That number was almost evenly divided between those who voted early either by mail-in ballot or early walk-in 27,382 (28.3%) and those who voted on election day 23,093 (23.9%). While county registration figures were up a little from 2016 general election, the turnout was down slightly.  Statewide the percentages were similar: total registration was 756,751, turnout 398,398 (52.6%). Of that number 213,531 (29.5%) voted early and 174,867 (23.1%) voted on election day.

To view the election results in more detail click on these links:

County of Maui Final Summary General Election 2018

State of Hawai`i Final Summary General Election 2018

Election Results Precinct Breakdown

Note: This story has been edited by its author.

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About Susan Halas

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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