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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 27, 2002

Hawai'i County races pared down to two

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

WAIMEA, Hawai'i — Only two of nine Hawai'i County Council seats are up for grabs in the Nov. 5 election. As for the other seven seats, those races were uncontested or the winners were decided in last month's nonpartisan primary.

In the Big Island's 9th Council District, comprising North and South Kohala, Leningrad Elarionoff, 63, is seeking a third term against Deputy Sheriff Eddie Akana, 55.

In the 6th Council District of Upper Puna, Ka'u and South Kona, Bob Jacobson is trying to succeed his wife, Julie, who held the seat for two terms before quitting earlier this year to care for her elderly parents. He is being challenged by coffee farmer Brenda Domondon.

Elarionoff won 42 percent of District 9's vote in the September primary, forcing a runoff against Akana, the No. 2 finisher with 28 percent. The actual vote tally was 1,532-1,020.

Big Island Council, 6th District

Brenda Domondon

• Address: 18-4115 Hulu St., Mountain View

• Occupation: Coffee farmer

• Family: Single, three sons, five grandchildren

• One big idea: "Create employment in our district and re-establish services we have lost."

Bob Jacobson

• Address: 1672 'Ope'ape'a, Hawaiian Acres

• Occupation: Registered nurse at Kona Community Hospital

• Family: Married

• One big idea: "A fair division of services (roads and water) for our district."

Big Island Council, 9th District

Eddie Akana

• Address: P.O. Box 2286, Waimea

• Occupation: Deputy sheriff

• Family: Unmarried, five children, eight grandchildren.

• One big idea: "I will represent my district, not the whole island. I will take care of this district."

Leningrad Elarionoff

• Address: 1737 Kiana, Waimea

• Occupation: Retired police captain, two-term councilman

• Family: Married, four children, five grandchildren.

• One big idea: "Successfully combat the challenge of the 'ice' drug problem."

Taxes are a key difference between the two candidates.

Elarionoff, a native of Ka'u and retired police captain, earlier this year voted to raise the real property tax, the first such increase the county has seen in more than 30 years. Mayor Harry Kim requested the tax increase of nearly 25 percent to cover a projected budget shortfall of $7.6 million.

Increasing the tax "was the right thing to do," Elarionoff said.

Akana, a Vietnam veteran who ran unsuccessfully against the incumbent twice before, has pledged to vote against any further tax increases. He said he will focus solely on winning money for capital improvements and programs in his district and not worry about the rest of the island.

To stimulate the Big Island's economy, Akana said it is necessary to diversify local industries and eliminate burdensome regulations. He said his No. 1 priority would be to introduce a bill to strengthen laws against drug abuse and family abuse, although criminal statutes are determined by the state Legislature, not county councils.

Elarionoff, who retired in 1994 after a 27-year police career, also feels that drug abuse is the top issue facing Hawai'i County, and he said he favors financial support for police and drug education programs.

To improve the local economy, the incumbent said the county should work with the University of Hawai'i to provide job training. He'd also like to see tax incentives to attract "clean" industries that don't harm the environment.

Before the county charter was amended to bring about nonpartisan elections this year, voters in the 6th District traditionally favored Green Party candidates. That could prove helpful to Jacobson, 49, a registered nurse at Kona Community Hospital who topped a four-candidate field in the primary. His wife, Julie, was elected on the Green Party ticket, and Jacobson is even more active on environmental and development issues.

He outpolled runner-up Domondon 1,334-1,068 in the primary, with nearly 950 ballots cast for the other two candidates or left blank.

Jacobsen said "lack of jobs that pay a living wage" is the biggest issue facing the county, and he would like to pass a "living wage" ordinance similar to one approved last year by the Santa Monica City Council. The measure — staunchly opposed by hotels and other businesses — raised the hourly minimum pay to $10.50 for workers at large businesses in the city's beachfront and downtown districts.

He also opposes further development in the Hawaiian Acres subdivision where he and about 1,770 other residents live, until roads and water systems are upgraded.

Domondon, 55, is a third-generation coffee farmer from Mountain View who was born and raised in Pahala. She took over her father's farm in 1985 and started her own after Ka'u Sugar was shut down, establishing one of the few successful ventures in the area. The candidate also is a former secretary for the county corporation counsel and worked at the Legislature.

"I really feel good, even if I am a rookie without a name," she said.

Her district needs help after years of neglect, and she said her sense of community service and proven ability in agriculture can make a difference.

The county should do more to promote Big Island agricultural products and to aid small businesses, she said. Domondon said unemployment is a major issue, and she is wary of high-rise development and other projects that might not be suitable for the district.

Already elected to the Hawai'i County Council are Fred Holschuh in the 1st District (Hamakua Coast); Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd in the 2nd District (Hilo, Kaumana); James Arakaki in the 3rd District (Waiakea, Kea'au); Aaron Chung in the 4th District (Hilo, Keaukaha); Gary Safarik in the 5th District (Lower Puna); Joe Reynolds in the 7th District (Keauhou, Kealakekua); and Curtis Tyler III in the 8th District (Kailua, North Kona).