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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 1:05 a.m., Wednesday, November 5, 2002

Maui elects new mayor, council incumbents

By Tim Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

Voters wait in line at Baldwin High School on Maui. Democrat Mazie Hirono faced Republican Linda Lingle in the race for governor of Hawai‘i in what analysts predicted would be a close contest.

Christie Wilson • The Honolulu Advertiser

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui County Councilman Alan Arakawa pulled off a stunning upset of Mayor James "Kimo" Apana, with a 1,108-vote victory over the incumbent.

The election was a rematch of the 1998 election when Apana, then a councilman, came out on top by about 2,200 votes.

Arakawa acknowledged he was an underdog, especially after losing to Apana in the nonpartisan primary.

"Nobody gave us a chance at the beginning, but we just worked hard," he said last night at his Kahului campaign headquarters. "We were outspent 7-to-1 but our campaign out-hustled them 7-to-1."

The two candidates fought a bitter campaign this time around, clashing over management style and differing views of their records. Although county elections are now nonpartisan, Apana is a Democratic stalwart who enjoyed the support of party heavy-hitters such as U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, who appeared in campaigns ads for the incumbent.

The mayor also enjoyed a sizeable advantage in campaign contributions over Arakawa, raising more than $700,000 compared with about $50,000 for his opponent.

Arakawa, 51, last ran as a Republican. He has served a total of six years on the council and is a former supervisor of the Kahului sewage treatment plant.

Apana, 40, served three terms on the council before succeeding Linda Lingle as mayor.

In the council races, all of the incumbents easily held onto their seats. In the West Maui residency seat, Jo Anne Johnson, 55, beat back a challenge from James "Kimo" Falconer, 45, vice president and general manager of Pioneer Mill in Lahaina.

South Maui incumbent Wayne Nishiki won a fifth consecutive term, despite a drunken driving arrest Aug. 30, his second DUI arrest in four years. Nishiki will be ineligible to run for reelection in two years because of term limits.

In the first contested race for the Moloka‘i seat in a decade, Councilman Danny Mateo beat Beverly Pauole-Moore, 55, a supervisor with the state Unemployment Insurance Division. Mateo, 51, was appointed to the council in August to succeed popular Pat Kawano, who died during the summer after a long illness.

In the race for the Kahului seat being vacated by Arakawa, retired phone company official Joseph Pontanilla was a winner, as was two-term LÅna‘i Councilman Riki Hokama, 49, who turned back a challenge by Georgina Kawamura, 50. Kawamura was the county’s budget director for 11 years under Republican mayors Hannibal Tavares and Linda Lingle.

Wailuku Councilman Dain Kane, 40, finished well ahead of Natalie "Tasha" Kama, a 50-year-old minister, while Upcountry incumbent Charmaine Tavares, 59, and Makawao-Pa‘ia incumbent Mike Molina, 42, cruised to victory.

Councilman Robert Carroll, 59, ran uncontested for the East Maui seat.

Also on the Maui County ballot were 19 charter amendments, including a proposal to lengthen the term limits of council members from two years to four. Voters overwhelmingly rejected that proposal.

They did, however, approve the creation of a new Department of Transportation responsible for planning and coordinating the development of new highways and public transportation.

Voters also supported less autonomy for the county Board of Water Supply, approving a measure that reduces the agency to a county department under the mayor.

A charter amendment that allocates 1 percent of real property tax revenues for acquisition of open space also was approved.