There are 19 candidates now in the race for election to serve on the Kaua‘i County Council. On Aug. 13 that list will be whittled down to the top 14 vote-getters. Then on Nov. 4, the final top seven will go on to serve Kaua‘i County for the next two years.
Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro and Council Vice Chair Mason Chock are both “termed out” and unable by law to run for re-election.
While there are two bonafide “openings,” all seven seats are up for election.
To recap the way the voting works in the council race, each registered voter “may cast up to seven votes,” and all seats are elected “at-large” (all Kaua‘i is a single district).
To throw newbies a curve ball, insiders often utilize a voting method referred to as “plunking,” where the voter casts less than the full seven votes they are permitted.
For example, imagine candidate X. Let’s imagine for a moment that candidate X’s dear mother marked her ballot obviously in support of her child, and then proceeded to vote for six other candidates, which she is entitled to do.
Let’s further imagine candidate X’s family is clustered around the radio listening to Ron Wiley on KONG (all day long), who announces that candidate X lost the election by a single vote. In essence, dear ‘ole mom’s vote for another candidate is the vote that caused the defeat.
Needless to say, the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and close friends of council candidates will often only cast a single vote, forgoing the other six they are entitled to.
Other critically important numbers are five, six, seven, eight and nine — and maybe 10.
At the end of the night on Aug. 13, the top 14 candidates proceed to the general election. But history says it’s really only the top 10 who have a hope of winning in November. So, at the conclusion of the primary, candidates in slots eight, nine and 10 will be fighting to move up, and those in slots five, six and seven will be fighting to hold on. Those in the top four slots will likely just cruise to victory.
So who’s going to win?
First and foremost, clearly a winning candidate must be on the voters’ radar. Voters will choose candidates they are familiar with, whom they trust, and whom they believe share common values.
The ability to raise campaign funds is important, as is the willingness and interest of the candidate to “run a real campaign” — putting up signs and banners, holding signs along the highway, canvassing door-to-door, etc.
Campaigns cost money. To ensure that at least 13,964 voters (the minimum winning number in 2020) vote for you, is a formidable task that costs money and takes work — lot’s of work.
One way to rank candidates and judge viability is to review their state-mandated Campaign Spending Reports.
If a candidate has not yet filed a report, either they are breaking the rules or they intend to spend zero money on their campaign. While low-budget campaigns can win, zero-budget campaigns cannot.
Here is the full breakdown of the money numbers in ascending order — effective Monday, July 25, as per their Campaign Spending Reports. An asterisk indicates an incumbent. Reports can be found by entering the candidate’s name in “View Reports” at: https://csc.hawaii.gov/CFSPublic/menu/.
James Langtad — no records found; Lila Metzger — no records found; Shirley Simbre-Medeiros — no current report found; Jeffrey Lindner — $-1,481.67; Rosemarie Jauch — $-1,273.83; Melvin Rapozo — $-1,011.40; Rachel Secretario — $0; *Bill DeCosta — $26; Nelson Mukai — $269.88; Roy Saito — $437.01; Jacquelyn Nelson — $730.47; *Luke Evslin — $1,046.71; Felicia Cowden — $1,769.07; Clint Yago Sr. — $2,580.00; Fern Holland — $2,920.41; *Bernard Carvalho — $5,864.65; Addison Bulosan — $9,030.75; Ross Kagawa — $10,211.54; *KipuKai Kualii — $26,304.34.
So how do I determine who I’m voting for?
I certainly am not going to vote for someone I don’t know about or have never heard of except for the fact that their name is on the ballot.
My personal experience with the individual and/or observing them in action either while on the council or in the community is what’s most important. If I am unfamiliar with them, I will read their campaign brochure, review their website and social-media postings, and ask others in the community about them.
I only vote for candidates who are serious about winning. Are they running a real campaign? Are they working hard out in the community to earn my vote?
If they are elected, Will they be the person they say they are? Will they hold fast to the values they espouse on the campaign trail when they’re actually called to vote on the tough, sometimes controversial, issues?
At the end of the day we collectively are responsible for our governments’ leadership. We choose our leaders, and we should take the time to do it right.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.
Source: The Garden Island