Democrats claim all Big Island state House seats

HILO — Facing slim competition from challengers, Hawaii Democrats won handily all Big Island House seats Tuesday night.

District 2 Rep. Chris Todd had won 6,607 of all valid votes cast in his race — a commanding lead over the 1,331 votes claimed by his Republican challenger Grace Manipol-Larson.

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Todd said he felt confident in his first general election, having been appointed to represent District 2 — which includes parts of Hilo, Keaukaha, Panaewa and Waiakea — in 2017 by Gov. David Ige to replace his predecessor, Clift Tsuji, who died in office in 2016.

“I’ve been going door-to-door for candidates for as long as I can remember,” Todd said. “It’s eye-opening to be on this side of things.”

Todd said he hopes to address Hilo’s aging education infrastructure and explore new ways to develop the city after taking office.

“There’s a lot of things on the horizon,” Todd said. “I want to figure out how to develop Hilo responsibly.”

In District 3, which encompasses other parts of Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown and Puna, three-term Rep. Richard Onishi won with 5,710 votes, leaving Libertarian challenger Fred Fogel with 1,643 votes.

“I think the numbers are indicative of my support,” Onishi said, adding that the state’s high amount of early voters appeared likely to secure the win.

The Big Island’s remaining four seats in the state House of Representatives saw Democratic candidates run uncontested, leaving the party to sweep the field by default.

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Incumbent Mark Nakashima, who has represented District 1 — which encompasses Hamakua, North Hilo and portions of South Hilo — for five terms, won his sixth term by default after facing no challenger in the general election.

In District 4, Joy San Buenaventura won her third term as representative of Puna with no contest either in the general or the primary elections. Similarly, Nicole Lowen won a fourth term as representative of District 6 — which includes North Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa and Honokohau — without any opponents in either election.