KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii’s primary elections were over as of today, but the race for Hawaii County Council District 7 is far from the finish line.
Rebecca Villegas won the night Saturday in a four-person, non-partisan race for the council position vacated by Dru Kanuha, now the Democratic nominee and substantial favorite to assume West Hawaii’s 3rd District seat in the state Senate.
Villegas edged out her nearest competitor, Kelly Drysdale, by a tally of 1,238 votes to 1,031 votes. However, Villegas fell far short of claiming a 50 percent majority — as combined, more than 1,050 ballots were cast for competitors Bronsten Kossow and Cynthia Nazara.
Still another 652 voters in the district who cast ballots at their polling places Saturday left the choice for the District 7 county council race blank.
Standard protocol dictates a runoff come November between the top two candidates, Villegas and Drysdale, with potentially close to 2,000 votes left in play to see who will represent a constituency spanning portions of both North Kona and South Kona.
Drysdale, daughter of well-known Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, said her team took the day off Sunday to rest and relax before delving into strategies for the next two months.
“It was a real nail-biter for a while there, but to have made it into the (runoff), I’m very happy,” Drysdale said. “I’m so pleased there are people out there who believe in me and believe I want to represent them and their agendas.”
As to her chances, Drysdale is optimistic considering how many votes remain available.
“That’s a significant amount of votes,” she said. “I’m hoping somehow I can find those people and get them in my camp.”
Villegas, who served as president of Kohanaiki Ohana for almost a decade and is also the former marketing manager for Kona Brewing Co., could not be reached for comment by press time Sunday.