East Hawaii News

Kahele and Solomon Win Outright; Ruderman to Face Smith

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***Updated Aug. 12 to correct candidacies in the Senate District 3: Republican Jeff LaFrance will face Sen. Josh Green in the general election. The article previously said Green would be unopposed.***

Gil Kahele is on his way back to the state Senate.

Kahele, who had been appointed to the District 2 seat but found himself in a new District 1 after reapportionment, defeated Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda in Saturday’s primary election. Kahele tallied 6,727 votes to Ikeda’s 4,764, good for a 55.9% to 39.6% margin.

“I’m happy for my supporters,” Kahele said at his campaign headquarters on Keawe Street. “And I’m ready to go to work.”

Kahele acknowledged that endorsements from the Hawai`i State Teachers Association and the University of Hawai`i Professional Assembly played an important role in his win, and said they reflected his personal beliefs.


“Education is high on my priorities,” he told Big Island Now’s Josh Pacheco.

Grocer Russell Ruderman beat out longtime lawmaker Bob Herkes in the Democratic primary race in District 2, the Big Island’s new state Senate seat representing Puna.

Ruderman received 3,001 votes, good for 36.3%, compared to 2,620 or 31.7% for Herkes. Videographer Wendell Ka`ehu`ae`a (1,152 votes, 13.9%) and former Councilman Gary Safarik (1,124, 13.6%) finished third and fourth, respectively.

Ruderman will face Republican Daryl Smith, who had no primary opponent, on Nov. 6.


In Senate District 3, incumbent Josh Green was unopposed in the Democratic primary. He will face Jeff LaFrance, who defeated John Totten in the Republican primary 825 to 690 votes, a 42.1% to 35.2% margin.

The other candidate in the race, nonpartisan Michael Last, received 33 votes but won’t reach the general. His tally fell short of the 10% of votes cast in that race required under state law for a nonpartisan candidate to reach the general. Last also could have qualified if he had had received at least as many votes for the winner in a partisan race.

Sen. Malama Solomon squeaked out a narrow win over former Sen. Lorraine Inouye in the Senate District 4 race. Solomon received 3,866 votes or 47.6%, while Inouye, also a former Big Island mayor and council member, got 3,788 votes or 46.6%. Solomon will face Green Party candidate Kelly Greenwell in the general.

In state House races, Incumbent Mark Nakashima won handily over Noralyn Pajimola in District 1 in Hamakua. Nakashima had 4,509 votes or 68.2% to Pajimola’s 1,613 or 24.4%.


Reapportionment put District 3 Incumbent Rep. Clift Tsuji into a new District 2 in Hilo this year, but he was unopposed there and, without a Republican opponent, will return to the state capitol.

In his old District 3, Richard Onishi, a Hawai`i County information analyst, defeated current County Councilwoman Brittany Smart 3,107 votes to 2,138, good for a 59.3% to 35.5% margin. Onishi will face Republican Marlene Hapai and Libertarian Fred Fogel, neither of whom had opposition today, in November.

House District 4 Incumbent Faye Hanohano was unopposed in the Democratic primary. She wins re-election outright as neither of the nonpartisan candidates, Hope Cermel or Moke Stephens, with 21 and 20 votes respectively, received enough votes to gain entry into the general.

Incumbent Denny Coffman in District 5 in Kona easily won his primary race against Leolani Oyama, with a vote margin of 2,344 (56.2%) to 1,100 (26.4%). Coffman will face Dave Bateman, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary, in the general election.

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