Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022 |
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Timothy TK Wehrsig
Sue Lee Loy
Gregory A.Y. Lum Ho Jr.
Desmon A. Des Haumea
Holeka Goro Inaba
Jeff Kalani Coakley
The primary election is still months away, but incumbent Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas has already won reelection.
Villegas was the only County Council candidate to survive without any challengers in the nonpartisan race at the 4:30 p.m. Tuesday filing deadline.
“Mahalo District 7!!! I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve you for a third term,” Villegas said Wednesday. “I’m also immensely relieved. I recognize the value being able to keep working on the many issues in our community without the distraction of also running a campaign. Most of all, I’m excited for all the progress we will make together in the next two years. Thank you Kona! I cherish your vote of confidence.”
The primary election is set for Aug. 13, with mail-in ballots to start appearing in voters’ mailboxes July 26. Voter service centers open Aug. 1.
Villegas’ name remains on the ballot even though unopposed.
Other ballot contests are more contentious, and two open seats have drawn more candidates. To win in the primary, a candidate must secure more than 50% of the votes cast. Otherwise, the top two contenders go on to the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
To kick off the election season, West Hawaii Today asked each candidate for one or two sentences explaining why they’re running. Candidates appearing on the primary election ballot:
Hamakua District 1. Incumbent Heather Kimball has filed.
“I am running for reelection so that I can use my experience to continue working for the community on behalf of District 1. I have several legislative and community projects in the works that I would like the opportunity to complete, such as revising the short-term vacation rental code, addressing the affordable housing shortage, updating the dedicated and non-dedicated agricultural tax policies,addressing climate change and environmental protection, ensuring access to public open spaces and trails, and planning for long term access management to Waipio Valley,” Kimball said.
Troy Martinez has filed to challenge her.
“I am a simple man whose roots run deep in Hamakua. I have felt a great call upon my heart to ensure the voices of the people of Hamakua are heard. To safeguard and protect our farmland, natural resources, our people and our lifestyle providing a sustainable future where our kids have a place to not just survive, but to thrive,” Martinez said.
Hilo District 2. No incumbent. Five candidates have filed:
“We, as a community, are facing tough but surmountable issues including; food instability, a failing water treatment center, increased drug addiction, houselessness, and we have kūpuna who are being taxed out of their homes – together we can address each issue to create a better tomorrow. I’d be honored to use my passion, persistence, and proven problem solving skills to represent the people of District 2 in solving our shared issues and fortifying us for the future – today,” said Maurice Goulding.
“I am running for County Council because I believe I can make a difference in the financial side of things. I think we should prioritize job creation,” said William Halversen.
“I’ve been supporting women running for office and now it’s my kuleana to do my part. Hilo deserves a hard worker who takes the time to listen to people’s concerns and will fight for their needs in County Council,” said Jen Kagiwada.
“I believe in our people. Our workers, our children and our Island’s future. With more than 2 decades of leadership in community outreach and public service, I want to take my experience and put it to work for an even larger impact, a greater good: The people of Hawai’i Island,” said Matthias Kusch.
“No Big money donations here, Just the Ainaʻs grassroots for this local boy. Our Government needs more people, Not politicians. Time for the middle class to be represented. Imua!” said Timothy TK Wehrsig.
Hilo District 3. Incumbent Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy has filed.
“It’s my way to honor all our kupuna, teachers, coaches, and mentors that have selflessly given to this community. It’s because of their devotion to us that I’m committed to step up and provide leadership that helps them and serves others,” Lee Loy said.
Darcy M. Alameda has filed to challenge her.
Puna District 4. Incumbent Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz and Gregory A.Y. Lum Ho Jr. have filed.
“Over the past few years, my office has provided leadership for Puna recovery and during the COVID pandemic. My commitment to our island is unwavering. I am humbly seeking re-election to continue the good work we’re doing in partnership with community,” Kierkiewicz said.
“As a member of the National Guard and a Head Coach at Kea’au High School, I feel I’ve given a lot to the nation and the student/athletes I’ve coached throughout the years. So I felt this is the next step on this journey, giving back to the community and Hawaii County which has given me and my family so much,” Lum Ho said.
Puna District 5. Incumbent Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder and Desmon A. Des Haumea have filed.
“Aloha – I am Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder; as a father and a small business owner, I understand the challenges we all face in Puna. As the Council-Elect for District 5, I humbly ask for your vote to responsibly represent our values, our home and our future on the Hawaii County Council,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said.
“The current political environment requires all government officials to remove personal agendas and represent our people with passion and aloha. I possess the skills to bring cohesiveness within our County Council with the kuleana of working for the community at large,” Haumea said.
South Kona/Kaʻu District 6. No incumbent. Four candidates have filed.
“As a second generation farmer, and a long-time advocate for the needs of small-scale coffee and diversified farmers in Kona and Ka’u, I will listen to and work with residents on issues from housing, public transportation, health care, land use, and access to local food. Your vote will support a shift of the County Council from top-down to bottom-up, with a Councilperson who wants to represent your voices,” said Colehour Bondera.
“I am running for office in order to serve the communities of district 6 from a balanced perspective that is the result of years of community service, business experience in agriculture, and love for the ʻāina,” said Michelle M. Galimba.
“There are new, once-in-a-lifetime federal funding opportunities for infrastructure and jobs, and Kaʻū and Kona, and the whole county, cannot afford to standby and miss the opportunity. I am running for Council District 6 to maximize these opportunities while holding everyone to the highest accountability and transparency standards,” said Shane Palacat-Nelson.
“I decided to run for county council district 6 Because I’m unhappy with the way a lot of the county departments are being run and the decisions some of these departments are making that affect the people of our communities. I decided to run because I feel I have what it takes to do what is right and make the right decisions for the people of our island,” said Henry Bo Cho III.
North Kona District 8. Incumbent Holeka Goro Inaba and Lee-Ann Heely have filed.
“I am running for re-election because our community needs an experienced leader who has demonstrated responsible decision making and forward thinking. As the incumbent for my district, I will continue to serve with the integrity the public has come to know me for,” Inaba said.
“I am a great listener and skilled leader who can get things done to support our community, our people and our economy. I believe in a thriving future for our Keiki and recognize that economic development, education, community engagement, social support, housing, transportation and food are all vital for a health, thriving Hawaii,” Heely said.
Kohala District 9. No incumbent.
“Times have changed, and more than ever, people want solutions, not promises or more politics of the Same Old, Same Old. As a community advocate for many decades, I’ve solved rural issues by bringing people together and forming partnerships with government entities to find viable solutions that work best for the community,” said Jeff Kalani Coakley.
“Hawai’i Islanders have always been resilient and to move forward together, we need progress that is affordable, practical and improves the quality of life for everyone. County government plays a critical role in setting the stage for people to succeed; this is why I am entering the race motivated and above all, ready to listen to all, identify priorities and get results,” said Cindy Evans.
“My decision to run for County Council is just a continuing passion to serve my communities that I love and been raised in,” said Chris Kalei Toafili.
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