HILO — Incumbent Kohala Councilman Tim Richards won his second term Saturday, holding off his lone challenger by claiming 2,531 votes, or 54.16 percent of the vote with all three precincts reporting Saturday night.
Challenger Maya Parish won 2,142 votes, and 409 voters left the selection blank.
Richards was cautious about his win, asking for more time to double-check the numbers after being notified by the newspaper that he had won. He’s been similarly cautious working through county budget numbers.
Richards said the county’s economic crisis caused by the volcano emergency has changed some of his priorities, but he still wants to focus on workforce housing and affordable housing. One initiative he’s working on would bring more than 1,000 workforce housing units to market, he said.
He described his plan as a “water, energy, food nexus.”
“Housing will be front and center,” Richards said. “I’m going to be working very hard on that.”
Richards, 59, of Waimea, is staff veterinarian at Veterinary Associates Inc. and a rancher. He has an advanced degree in veterinary medicine from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.
Parish, 40, of Hawi, is an educator and yoga instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree, Phi Beta Kappa, in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Parish got into politics through community organizing, and then became active in the local and state Democratic Party.
She couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Saturday night.
It wasn’t an inexpensive race. Richards spent $24,273 to Parish’s expenditures of $16,946 as of July 27, according to reports filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission.
“We have very, very different demographics across a large district,” Richards said.
That necessitated different messages and modes of getting the message out, depending on the demographic, he said.
“We probably spent a bit more, but I was up against an opponent who spent more,” he said.
District 9 includes Mauna Lani Resort, Waikoloa Village, Puako, Waikii, parts of Waimea, Puukapu Farms, Puukapu Homesteads, Puukapu Village House Lots, Lualai, Puuopelu, Lalamilo, Waiaka, Kawaihae, Kohala Ranch, Mahukona, Hawi, Kapaau and Halaula.