Growth top issue in Maui races
By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau
With one in four residents having arrived in the past decade, according to the census, candidates are still trying to find answers for problems associated with traffic, infrastructure, affordable housing and the environment.
Both candidates for the Kahului residency seat the only race without a sitting incumbent since Alan Arakawa decided to run for mayor say these issues are among their top priorities.
James "Kimo" Falconer
Jo Anne Johnson
Bradish Johnson V
Natalie (Tasha) Kama
G. Lehua Clubb
"Remember, we live on an island," said D. Mele Carroll, chief of staff for state Sen. J. Kalani English, D-5th (Wailuku, Kahului, Upcountry). "If we keep building and building, we're going to run out of space. We need to protect our coastlines, our beaches and invest in open space. As for development, we need to find a balance.''
Joe Pontanilla, a retired GTE Hawaiian Tel manager, said he also wants to strike a balance, and the best way to do that is by involving the public from the ground up, much like community members have joined the Ka'anapali 2020 planning process in West Maui.
Development can certainly move forward, he said, but not at the expense of blocked view corridors and an overburdened shoreline.
Carroll, 38, has worked for English since he served on the council in the late 1990s and feels she's ready to apply what she's learned to her own career in office.
Pontanilla, 60, a member of the Maui Planning Commission, said he plans to draw on his business background and community service experience to get things accomplished.
"I know how to work with people and bring them together,'' he said. "Because of my goal-oriented experience in community service, I can create action plans and follow through on them.''
As for who's going to win, both agree that Pontanilla is the favorite. He ran two years ago and is better known in the community. In the nonpartisan primary, Carroll edged Pontanilla, but he could pick up many of the votes that were cast for two other candidates. Pontanilla has also garnered union endorsements.
A close race could emerge for the Moloka'i seat. Councilman Danny Mateo, 51, who was appointed to office in August to succeed the late Patrick Kawano, is facing Beverly Pauole-Moore, 55, a supervisor with the state Unemployment Insurance Division.
This is the first contested race for that seat in a decade. Kawano, who died in June after a long illness, was viewed as unbeatable for the Moloka'i seat and went unchallenged for most of his time in office.
Mateo, 51, a former Kawano aide, said traffic is the top quality-of-life issue facing the county. He said he wants to explore alternative transportation systems, including the potential for light rail.
Pauole-Moore, 55, said she wants to form a task force to address affordable housing and the vacation rentals issue. On development, foes have painted her as being pro-development, but she insists that she will work for balanced growth.
"I will always strive to keep our rural atmosphere by seeking responsible growth and planning with respect for the 'aina,'' she said.
Based on the primary election results, it would appear the incumbents are in good position to be re-elected. But three races didn't appear on the primary ballot because only two candidates had entered the race for each of those seats.
Facing the voters for the first time will be James "Kimo" Falconer, 45, vice president and general manager of Pioneer Mill in Lahaina.
Falconer said he wants to give voters an alternative to West Maui incumbent Jo Anne Johnson, 55, who won both praise and scorn during her first term for, among other things, proposing a moratorium on development, a prohibition on captive dolphins and a ban on fluoridation in private water systems used for public purposes.
Another interesting matchup is for the Lana'i seat. Riki Hokama, 49, a two-term councilman and son of longtime councilman Goro Hokama, will face Georgina Kawamura, 50, in a rematch of their battle two years ago.
Kawamura, a former member of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, was the county's budget director for 11 years under Republican mayors Hannibal Tavares and Linda Lingle. She hopes to get an election boost from Lingle, who is running for governor.
Three-term Upcountry Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares, 59, daughter of the late mayor, is being challenged by political novice Bradish Johnson V, 55, a Kula protea farmer.
In the race for the Makawao-Pa'ia seat, real estate broker and general contractor Michael Holter, 52, faces first-term incumbent Michael Molina, 42.
As for the races that saw action in the primary, Wailuku Councilman Dain Kane was the top vote-getter of all the candidates. He will be challenged by runner-up Natalie (Tasha) Kama, a 50-year-old minister of the Christian Ministry Church in Wailuku. This is her first attempt at the council after twice running unsuccessfully for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
South Maui incumbent Wayne Nishiki, a low-key campaigner, was not hurt in the primary by an Aug. 30 drunken driving arrest, his second in four years. He garnered nearly three times as many votes as runner-up G. Lehua Clubb, a Maui Prince Hotel telephone operator.
Because he ran uncontested in the primary, incumbent Robert Carroll, 59, has already won back his East Maui seat.
Although council candidates are required to run in residency districts, all nine seats are determined by a countywide vote.