After Hawaii’s dismal primary turnout, which actually settled many elections–only two of Hawaii County’s council seats remain to be determined, and many state-level candidates in this overwhelmingly Democratic state faced serious opposition only in the primaries–today is your last chance to influence who represents you for the next two years or four years. All polling places are open, even in the lava zone. Since the lava still hasn’t crossed the Highway but election officials weren’t sure that it wouldn’t, those registered to vote at Pahoa Community Center will be allowed to vote either there or at Hawaii Paradise Parks.
The two remaining County Council seats that will be determined today are District 9. where incumbent Margaret Wille faces Ronald S. Gonzales, and District 5, where our own Tiffany Edwards Hunt is squaring off against Daniel K. Paleka, Jr. All other races were determined in the primary because Council races in this county are non-partisan, and any candidate in a council race who wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary is considered to be elected outright. Only Districts 5 and 9 were those conditions not met–most of the incumbents won with landslides, and two ran unopposed. In the District 9 race, Wille has faced a media blitz from agribusiness interests who oppose the law that she authored, limiting the planting of genetically modified crops here, making that race the most expensive in County Council history on this island. We’ve abstained from reporting on the race between Ms. Hunt, who owns the Chronicle, and Mr. Paleka, who is running with heavy union backing, because of our inherent conflict of interest. But it’s obvious where our sympathies lie.
The other big race on the ballot is for Governor, where David Ige, who upset incumbent Neil Abercrombie in the primary. is in a three-way race with with Republican Duke Aiona and Indepent Mufi Hannemann. Frankly, I’m not that impressed with any of them. Ige’s campaign literature emphasizes his background as an electrical engineer; it’s pretty obvious where his sympathies are going to lie on development issues. But Hannemann has even more aggressively pro-construction record, and I was not at all impressed with him when I was reporting as his machinations as a plantation boss in Kau, when he bussed in plantation workers to pack hearings on a resort that later failed. Aiona is what passes for a moderate Republican circles these days, but his stances on social issues are anything but progressive. So Ige will be getting my vote by default.
We’ll cover the elections here this evening as the returns come in. It’s going to be a late night.