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UPDATE: Kenoi Defeats Kim by 1,457 Votes

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***Updated on Dec. 7 to correct outcome of prosecutor’s race.***

Incumbent Mayor Billy Kenoi tonight narrowly edged his former boss to win a second term as the Big Island’s chief executive.

With all 43 precincts reporting, including absentee and walk-in voting, Kenoi had received 31,433 votes to 29,976 for former two-time mayor Harry Kim. That translated to a 49.9% to 47.6% margin.

The race also drew 1,575 blank ballots, or 2.5% of the votes cast.

Kenoi had served as one of Kim’s executive assistants, and was coached by him in youth football.

“When they say every vote counts, they mean every vote,” Kenoi said after hearing the news.

A happy Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to Big Island Now at his campaign headquarters. Photo by Josh Pacheco.


“We knew it would be close, we were running against Harry Kim,” he told Big Island Now.

“We look forward to getting everybody back together to work as an island community,” he said.

Kenoi credited his supporters for their efforts.

“There was no way we could have worked any harder, or put in any more hours, or asked the volunteers to give any more time or effort,” he said. “So knowing that, you have that sense that no matter what happens, you gave it all you got.”

He acknowledged that there was some “anxiousness and anxiety” when the second printout showed that Kim had closed the margin to 0.3%.


Speaking from his sister’s house in Hilo, Kim was upbeat after the second printout.

“I’m optimistic,” he said.

Kim said he felt very positive support for his candidacy, which he described as the epitome of a grass-roots effort.

An upbeat Harry Kim following the second of three printouts tonight. Photo by Josh Pacheco.

“This is 100% volunteers,” he said. “I have no campaign organization.”

I think there was over 1,000 handmade signs,” he told Big Island Now. “How can you beat that?”


Kenoi had outspent Kim by a nearly 30-to-1 margin, $597,795 to Kim’s $20,754, according to reports covering the period ending Oct. 22.

The incumbent brought in $611,611 in contributions, including $34,500 in late October, according to a report filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission on Monday.

Kim, who said he would take no contributions of more than $10, received $18,666 in contributions, including $725 worth of campaign signs from one supporter. Kim also contributed $4,000 of his own money since the primary election and loaned his campaign $5,000 prior to the primary.

A shortage of paper ballots at more than a dozen precincts on Oahu caused delays in releasing election results, particularly those involving those precincts.

Kenoi and Kim had emerged as the top two contenders in the nonpartisan mayor’s race from a group of six candidates in the August primary.

In the other county-wide nonpartisan race, Deputy Prosecutor Mitch Roth defeated Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida in the race for county prosecutor.

According to the final election printout issued at 2:57 a.m. Wednesday, Roth received 28,311 votes to 28,184 for Ashida, a margin of 127 votes.

There were also 7,280 blank votes cast in that race.

Ashida is a former deputy prosecutor who as corporation counsel currently serves as the county’s chief civil attorney, while Roth has been a deputy prosecutor for the past 19 years.

The new County Council will have six new faces when it meets for the first time on Dec. 3.

Fred Blas, the incumbent representing District 4 in lower Puna, lost to Greggor Illagan who received 3,795 votes to Blas’ 2.376. Ilagan received 59.1% of the non-blank votes.

Blas was seeking re-election after first being elected to the council in 2010.

The other incumbent council member running today, Brenda Ford in District 6, defeated Maile David in the race to represent South Kona, Ka`u and Volcano by a 48.0% to 45.6% margin.

Ford, who lives in Captain Cook, had previously represented District 7 for three terms before the boundaries were redrawn this year. She will be prevented from running again by term limits.

And for the first time since 2006, there won’t be a Yagong on the council, as Valerie Poindexter defeated Chelsea Yagong in the race in District 1, which extends through the Hamakua coast from near the boundary of South Hilo.

Poindexter, who received 54.5% of the vote, is a human resources manager at the Hamakua Health Center. Yagong, daughter of current council Chairman Dominic Yagong and a teacher at Honokaa Elementary School, had received 38.1%.

Dominic Yagong, who has served the past three terms on the council, lost in a bid to unseat Kenoi in the Aug. 11 primary.

Waimea attorney Margaret Wille received 47.3% of the vote to 41.8% for Pastor Oliver “Sonny” Shimaoka in the council’s District 9 race for the right to represent North and South Kohala.

Five of the non-partisan council races were decided in the primary election on Aug. 11.

They included two unopposed candidates, one of which, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, was the incumbent in Hilo’s District 3. The other was Dru Kanuha in District 7.

Winning outright with more than 50% of the vote in August were incumbent Councilman J Yoshimoto, who was moved to District 2 from District 3 by redistricting, and newcomers Zendo Kern in District 5 and Karen Eoff in District 8.

***Updated on Nov. 7 to correct amount of campaign contributions.***

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