Democrat Jeanné Kapela was elected to her first term in the state House of Representatives Tuesday, easily defeating her two contenders to represent residents from Kailua-Kona to Naalehu.
Kapela garnered 8,336 with all precincts reporting. Libertarian Michael Last received 1,636 votes while Aloha Aina candidate Citlalli Johanna Decker received 842 votes.
“I’m honored to have the privilege to serve as the next representative for our community,” said Kapela in a prepared release. “It’s time to embrace a new political vision that puts people and our planet first.”
Kapela said she is eager to begin working on the critical issues facing West Hawaii.
“From day one, I will begin working to deliver economic justice, a Green New Deal, universal healthcare, and a quality education for working families,” she said. “I’m also committed to urgently combating the spread of coffee rust, which has recently been found on our island and could decimate our iconic coffee industry if left unchecked.”
Democrat Richard Creagan had held the seat since 2014 but withdrew from the race. Kapela lost to Creagan in the 2018 primary election by a total of 487 votes.
There was no Republican candidate in the House District 5 race this year.
Five other state House seats representing Hawaii Island were also decided Tuesday.
Democrat Joy San Buenaventura won her bid Tuesday for the District 2 state Senate seat representing Puna and a portion of Ka‘u, which became vacant when Russell Ruderman, owner of the Island Naturals grocery chain, decided not to run for re-election. She garnered 14,215 votes — 75.2% of votes cast — to 4,690 for Ron Ka-Ipo, a member of the new Aloha Aina Party.
Mark Nakashima, a Democrat who has represented District 1 (Hamakua, North Hilo and the northern portion of South Hilo) since 2008, tallied 71.7% of the valid votes cast to defeat Republican Hilo businesswoman Lorraine Shin, 8,845 votes to 3,487 votes.
In the race for House District 2, which encompasses Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa and Waiakea, incumbent Democrat Chris Todd will return for his second full term, garnering 9,545 votes, or 85.7%, to 1,587 votes registered by Devin McMackin Sr. of the Aloha Aina Party.
Incumbent Democrat Richard Onishi, who represents District 3 with portions of Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown Mountain View and Volcano, retained the seat he’s occupied since 2012 with 72.2% of the valid votes, defeating Republican Susan Hughes by a margin of 8,221 to 3,163.
Former County Councilman Greggor Ilagan will now represent Puna in House District 4. He received 70.1% of the vote in a three-candidate race, defeating Republican Hope Cermelj and Aloha Aina party member Desmon Haumea.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.