East Hawaii News

Kenoi and Kim Move On to General Election

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Incumbent  Mayor Billy Kenoi kept a comfortable lead over former two-time mayor Harry Kim in Saturday’s race for the Big Island’s top executive post, but not enough to avoid a run-off  in the general election.

In an election delayed by late starts at polling places, Kenoi maintained roughly the same margin throughout the evening, tallying 42.5% of the vote to Kim’s 34.1%, meaning the two will match up again in the general election. (See accompanying article for vote totals.)

All county races are nonpartisan, which means a candidate must receive 50% plus one vote to avoid a run-off with the next highest vote-getter on Nov. 6.

County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong was third in the mayor’s race with 18.3%.

None of the other three mayoral candidates, Share Christie, Daniel Cunningham or Rand “Baker Tom” Walls, captured more than 1.2%.

Speaking to Big Island Now’s Josh Pacheco, Kim said his campaign was never about budgets or projects, but about having the government closer to the people.


A primary motivation for him was the geothermal issue, specifically the state’s move to ease environmental regulations for drilling and geothermal development.

“I was very surprised and disappointed that a state government would do this to the people of Hawai`i,” he said.

Kim, who served as civil defense director for 23 years before his eight years as mayor, said he presents no surprises to the voters.

All his advertisements are the same, he said, noting that all he asks is that the public judge him on the way he has worked for them in the past.

Speaking from his Honoka`a home, Yagong said his opponents ran good campaigns.


“One thing we always felt strong about was following the will of the people, and I respect that,” he said about the outcome.

Kenoi could not be reached for comment.

The strong showing by Kim, who came out of retirement with a last-minute entry into the mayor’s race, came despite being outspent by Kenoi 70 times over.

Kim said he wouldn’t take any campaign donations above $10, and collected a total of $8,425 in contributions, including a $5,000 loan he made to his own campaign. Kim had $4,862 in cash remaining, according to his latest report.

Kenoi received more than $468,000 in contributions for the 2012 primary, including $15,500 in the past two weeks. His latest filing with the state Campaign Spending Commission listed about $19,000 in cash on hand.


Yagong reported a total of $27,302 in contributions, including $7,070 he loaned to his campaign.

In the other county-wide race, county Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida received 45.6% of the vote to Deputy Prosecutor Mitch Roth who had 30%, meaning the two will face off in November. Ka`u attorney Paul Dolan finished third with 15.9%.

In the County Council races, Valerie Poindexter had 33.4% of the vote for a slim lead over Chelsea Yagong, daughter of the council chairman, in the race to fill her father’s seat in District 1 in Hamakua. Yagong had 31.6% of the vote to Jo Kim’s 21.2%, which means Yagong will face Poindexter in the general.

In District 2, Councilman J Yoshimoto is on his way back to the county’s legislative body.

Yoshimoto, who was unopposed in District 3 in 2010 but found himself in a different district after new political boundaries were drawn this year, squeaked by with 51.1% of the vote to 26.9% for former County Clerk Ken Goodenow in the race for one of the council’s two Hilo seats. Rachel Thompson and Steve Wilhelm trailed far behind.

For the second primary in a row, Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi was unopposed and was elected to the other Hilo seat in District 3.

Incumbent Council 5 Councilman Fred Blas, who was moved into District 4 by redistricting, had 35.3% of the vote for the lower Puna seat. He will run in the general election against Greggor Ilagan who pulled 32.8% of the vote to James Weatherford’s 28.6%.

In the District 5 race in upper Puna, Zendo Kern, chairman of the Windward Planning Commission, was one of five council candidates who avoided a run-off in November. Kern had 69% of the vote to 14.5% for Steven Araujo and 8.6% for Lising Ceredon.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford, the incumbent in District 7 who found herself in District 6 after redistricting, will have a November run-off with Maile David, a legislative staffer for Councilman Angel Pilago. Ford had 45.7% to David’s 33.2%. Bradley Westervelt was third with 12.8%.

In the new District 7, Pilago aide Karen Eoff had a commanding win over Chuck Guccione, 69.7% to 18.5% to win the Kona seat.

In District 8, Dru Kanuha, like Poindexter a member of the redistricting commission, was the only unopposed council candidate and was elected into office today. He replaces Pilago, who did not run for re-election.

In council District 9, Waimea attorney Margaret Wille overcame a slim lead by Sonny Shimaoka, pastor of a Waimea church, but the two still must face off on Nov. 6 in the race to replace term-limited Councilman Pete Hoffman. Neither was close to the 50% mark, with 35.7% for Wille and 26.1% for Shimaoka. Frequent candidate Bill Sanborn was third with 21% and Bob Green had 10.9% of the ballots cast.


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