With a Few Last Minute Arrivals, All County Council Seats Now Contested

June 8, 2016

By BRIAN PERRY – City Editor (bperry@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

All nine Maui County Council seats will be contested, and most Maui legislators face primary and/or general election opponents.

Only two Democratic Maui County legislators – Central Maui Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran and Kahului-Puunene-Old Sand Hills-Maui Lani Rep. Justin Woodson – escaped filing deadline day with no opposition, effectively getting re-elected. Two Maui senators – West-South Maui Sen. Roz Baker and East Maui-Upcountry-Molokai-Lanai Sen. J. Kalani English – are midway through four-year terms, so they can sit on the sidelines this year.


Also in the midst of four-year terms, the governor, lieutenant governor and Maui County mayor will not be running this year.

The Maui County Charter provides that council races with two or fewer candidates advance directly to the general election. This year, that will be the case in five council residency contests: East Maui Council Member Bob Carroll will take on a challenge from Shane Sinenci; West Maui Council Member Elle Cochran will face Ernest Balinbin; Kahului Council Member Don Guzman will be opposed by Vanessa Medeiros; Lanai Council Member Riki Hokama will defend his seat against Gabe Johnson; and Molokai Council Member Stacy Crivello will be tested by Keani Rawlins-Fernandez.

Two council seats are being vacated by the term-limit departures of Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu Council Member Mike Victorino and Upcountry Council Member Gladys Baisa. Those seats without hard-to-beat incumbents have attracted nine candidates overall five for the Wailuku seat and four for the Upcountry seat.

CARROLL, Robert (Bob) P.O. BOX 157 HANA 96713
SINENCI, Shane P.O. BOX 343 HANA 96713
BALINBIN, Ernest Z. Kanamu 5045 L. HONOAPIILANI RD., #6 LAHAINA 96761
ATAY, Alika P.O. BOX 3075 WAILUKU 96793
BLACKBURN, Joseph G., II P.O. BOX 1673 WAILUKU 96793
KANE, Dain P. P.O. BOX 104 WAILUKU 96793
REGAN, Keith A. 1823 WELLS ST., #2A WAILUKU 96793
STEEL, Hana S. P.O. BOX 1495 WAILUKU 96793
MEDEIROS, Vanessa A. 588 S. PAPA AVE. KAHULUI 96732
COUCH, Don P.O. BOX 1212 KIHEI 96753
DELEON, Richard 140 MANINO CIR., #101 KIHEI 96753
KING, Kelly Takaya 72 KALOLA PL. KIHEI 96753
METCALFE, Jerome V. (Tiger) P.O. BOX 1625 KIHEI 96753
FURTADO, Trinette K. 342 KULIKE RD. HAIKU 96708
KAUFMAN, Alan D. P.O. BOX 297 KULA 96790
MOLINA, Eric John P.O. BOX 881171 PUKALANI 96788
MONIZ, Stacey Suemi P.O. BOX 880761 PUKALANI 96788
SUGIMURA, Yuki Lei Kashiwa P.O. BOX 901362 KULA 96790
HOKAMA, Riki P.O. BOX 631258 LANAI CITY 96763
JOHNSON, Gabe P.O. BOX 631620 LANAI 96763
CRIVELLO, Stacy Helm P.O. BOX 1097 KAUNAKAKAI 96748

For the Wailuku seat, those candidates are: Alika Atay, one of the leaders of the SHAKA Movement for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms; Joe Blackburn, a former Maui firefighter and police officer who has tried twice before to win the seat; Dain Kane, a former council member who held the seat from 1999 to 2006; Keith Regan, the county’s managing director; and Hana Steel, the county’s recycling coordinator.

(Steel’s employment status with Maui County was incorrectly reported in a Maui News story published May 15 on Page A3. She remains the county’s recycling coordinator, although she has been placed on administrative leave with pay, “against my will and wishes” and has not reported to work since July 2014.) Steel filed a federal age discrimination complaint against Maui County, and there have been recent steps to resolve the matter, she said.

On Tuesday, county spokesman Rod Antone said he could not comment other than to say Steel is the county’s recycling coordinator, and that her pay scale ranges from $59,736 to $88,404.

Blackburn said his reason for seeking the Wailuku council residency seat is to help working families.

“We are pricing and pushing our local families out of Maui County,” he said Tuesday. “While the economy is better in 2016, housing and rentals are worse. I want to serve the silent majority, our working class of Maui.”

Blackburn said his more than three decades of work in public safety, both as a fire rescue captain and police officer, “helped me understand how our public services impact the community.”

Regan said his strength also comes from his experience in government. He said he’s the only candidate in the Wailuku council race “who has the unique experience of managing the various departments of the county and helping to formulate the county’s annual budget for a span of more than seven years.”

That experience, combined with having owned and operated a small trucking company on Maui, earning a master’s in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration and his continued community service, “I believe I am the best candidate,” Regan said.

Regan said he advocates a change to biennial budgeting for the county, and he’s critical of the current council budget system as being “time-consuming, cumbersome, inefficient and forces the entire legislative process to shut down for months . . . This is unacceptable; and it must stop.”

Kane said that over the past year he has been approached and encouraged by many people in the county to return to public service.

“I’m offering our citizens a candidacy with a proven track record of experience, with an understanding of the complex inner workings of county governance, and in particular, county legislative governance,” he said. “I’ve consistently demonstrated an ability to work with my peers to accomplish important objectives, with a focus and commitment to further our community’s interests with a sense of fairness, dignity and respect.”

Atay said he’s running for the Wailuku council seat because he believes that “decision-making should be for the community and people first, and not for corporate profit and gains.”

He said he’s running for “aloha ‘aina.”

“I’m committed to delivering and addressing the vital issues that affect the people of Maui County: from protecting our natural resources, especially our drinking water, to addressing the issue of providing truly affordable homes for local family residents, to increasing economic development in the areas of agriculture and the ‘green-collared’ job/career opportunities,” Atay said. “I strongly believe we must continue to embrace the Maui values that keeps Maui no ka oi.”

Steel did not respond to questions sent via email Tuesday morning.

For the Upcountry seat, the candidates are Women Helping Women Executive Director Stacey Moniz, kumu hula and businesswoman Napua Greig-Nakasone, community leader and former congressional field representative Yuki Lei Sugimura and Pukalani resident Eric Molina.

Moniz said she’s served as a community advocate for 30 years, and “I believe my ability to address complex challenges with multifaceted, broad-based solutions is just what our community needs right now.”

“We are facing environmental and economic challenges compounded by uncertainty and will need leaders with critical thinking skills to navigate us through,” she said. “I’m a critical problem solver who looks at the entire system before making important decisions.”

Affordable housing is the critical issue facing Maui County, Moniz said, emphasizing that more needs to be done to provide housing for the community’s entire spectrum of needs – “from ownership to affordable rentals and transitional housing for special populations like people with disabilities, elderly, domestic violence survivors, people getting out of prison or substance abuse treatment.”

Greig-Nakasone said she decided to run for office “because I feel it is my responsibility to use the education, experience and opportunities that have been afforded me to serve my community in this capacity. With the new types of challenges we face here in Maui County, it is imperative the next generation take an active role in leadership.”

She said her experiences as an educator and businesswoman make her a strong candidate.

Working with students of diverse backgrounds, “I must be able to walk a mile in their shoes to help all students come to a similar understanding,” Greig-Nakasone said. “This is a skill that is essential in leadership as this is a time when ‘building bridges’ in our community is urgent.”

Sugimura said she has been inspired to undertake community service by her father, Dr. Lester Kashiwa, a physician for the Wailuku Sugar Mill. “Growing up, patients would call for him in the middle of the night and no matter the hour, my father always answered their calls. He served the community by putting his patients first and serving the community as a whole.”

She said her Upcountry council candidacy is a continuation of her own 25 years of work on “community convening and improvement projects (that) have been built on the lessons of service from my father.”

“I want to connect our communities, preserve and perpetuate our culture and create economic opportunities for Maui County,” Sugimura said.

She said her top priorities are working families and jobs.

“I am an advocate for affordable housing, better roads and job creation,” she said. “I support smart growth by using alternative energy and recycling as ways to preserve our environment. I believe in a walkable and bikeable community where beaches, parks and roads are safer and where community happens.”

Council candidates have to reside in their districts but the entire county elects council members.

In a half-dozen state House races, there will be four primaries.

House Speaker Joe Souki will face Richard Abbett in the Democratic primary for the 8th House seat (Wailuku-Kahakuloa-Waihee-Waiehu-Puuohala-Waikapu). The winner goes on to challenge Republican Gilbert (Gil) Rebolledo, who’s uncontested in the GOP primary.

Similarly, South Maui Democratic Rep. Kaniela Ing will defend his seat in a primary against Deidre Tegarden, a former executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui and chief of protocol for former Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration. The winner of that race will go on to face Republican Daniel (Danny) Pekus.

And, Democratic Haiku-Paia-East Maui-Molokai-Lanai Rep. Lynn DeCoite has a primary challenge from Alex Haller. And, whoever wins that contest advances to the general election against Green Party candidate Nick Nikhilananda.

The Upcountry House race between Democratic Rep. Kyle Yamashita and Tiare Lawrence will be a winner-take-all contest without another party fielding a candidate.

The primary election is Aug. 13, and the general election is Nov. 8.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.

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