According to preliminary election results on Saturday, former judge Richard Bissen and Mayor Michael Victorino are in the lead with the most votes. Although some ballots are still being tallied, the early tally indicates that Victorino will compete against Bissen in the general election in November. Bissen was in the lead with about 36% of the vote, and Victorino had 33%.
In an interview conducted outside his campaign’s election night celebration at Maui’s Binhi At Ani Filipino Community Center, Bissen stated that when voters cast their ballots, what they are actually doing is placing their trust in you. They are expressing their hope to you, and we are here to give people hope.
This year’s race attracted a field of eight candidates, four of whom Bissen, Victorino, Council members Kelly King and Mike Molina are prominent Maui County leaders with decades of experience in their respective branches of government. This year’s race has been dubbed the most competitive mayoral contest in Maui’s history by some longtime political observers. According to preliminary figures, King received 14% of the vote while Molina received 5.7%.
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The top two candidates with the most votes were left in the running after Saturday’s primary. In the general election in November, those two will then square off one last time. Candidates do not run as Democrats or Republicans in any of the county elections because they are all nonpartisan. The mayor serves as the county’s main executive, choosing and removing department heads, and managing daily operations of the county government. The council, on the other hand, decides how much money is spent and how county laws and policies are to be implemented.
Top candidates for council are chosen by voters
The candidate they thought would represent them on the Maui County Council was likewise chosen by the voters. The four primary contests on the ballot with more than two candidates drew comments from the public. They will choose a candidate in November to fill each of the nine seats.
Residents of South Maui, where King has held office for the previous three two-year terms, voted overwhelmingly for Tom Cook and Robin Knox, who will compete in the main election. Contractor Cook, who ran for South Maui’s representative in the 2020 election, was defeated by King. Early results showed that Cook received close to 38% of the vote. With 29% of the vote, Knox, an environmental scientist and proprietor of a small business, won. 10% behind was Dennis O’Shea.
Nohe U’u-Hodgins, a political novice, got close to 31% of the vote for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia seat, which is now held by Molina, according to early results. 20% of the vote went to Dave Deleon, who is currently retired but had previously worked for past mayors Linda Lingle and Alan Arakawa before taking the position of government affairs director for the Realtors Association of Maui.
Yuki Lei Sugimura, an incumbent who was originally elected as a council member in 2016, held a commanding lead in the preliminary results in Upcountry with 57% of the vote. The choice between Jordan Hocker, a scholar and supporter of working families, who received 16% of the vote, and Sugimura’s re-election will be presented to voters in November. With 25% of the early ballots cast, Tasha Kama, the incumbent, successfully defended her seat in Kahului.
Buddy James Nobriga, one of her rivals and the owner of Maui Soda & Ice Works’ family business, was in second place with 24% of the early vote. The Maui County Council has been led for the past four years by a majority of progressive members, who have implemented a number of bold policies, such as raising taxes on second homes and enacting a temporary ban on the building of new hotels, which some council members are now pushing to make permanent.
Some locals have praised the moves as a departure from the status quo, which gave developers and the tourism sector priority, while others have viewed their policies as a blow to Maui’s companies and key economic drivers. The early voting totals indicate that the progressive candidates’ control on the council may be in risk, despite the fact that votes are still being tallied. The Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation have given grants to Civil Beat in order to help cover Maui County.