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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

Add one more to Maui race

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

Charmaine Tavares

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WAILUKU, Maui Maui County Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares announced yesterday she is running for mayor, a position held by her late father in the 1980s.

Tavares, 62, will challenge Mayor Alan Arakawa's re-election bid and also will face former Mayor James "Kimo" Apana, who confirmed yesterday that he will seek to return as the county's top elected leader. Arakawa upset Apana in the 2002 mayoral contest.

The councilwoman said she will strictly adhere to state campaign rules and has decided to limit donations to $2,000 per contributor, half the amount allowed for the mayor's race.

Like her father, Hannibal Tavares, and Arakawa, the Upcountry councilwoman ran as a Republican before the county switched to nonpartisan elections. She entered politics after serving as director of the Department of Parks and Recreation under her father and former Mayor Linda Lingle, now governor.

The Hana-born Tavares was long expected to run for mayor, but yesterday said she was not ready four years ago and still had work to do on the council. She has served on the council for five terms, but has to leave office because of term limits.

Renewable energy, efficient government and striking a balance between Maui County's economic interests and "aloha" and the environment are her top priorities, Tavares said. The candidate did not announce any specific initiatives, saying she will be meeting first with people familiar with the issues.

Tavares, a former educator, has been a low-key, moderate and consistent force on the council, and has been a top finisher in countywide elections over the years.

Yesterday, she did not point to any policy differences with the incumbent, instead emphasizing her management style, which Tavares said centers on consensus building.

While Arakawa has gone to lengths to address community concerns and reach out to parties on different sides of the issues, some of his positions, especially on development, have been divisive.

Arakawa yesterday said he is a longtime friend of the Tavares family and is looking forward to a lively campaign. "There is no animosity," he said. "I wish her the best. ... I love campaigns when there are lots of candidates, and over my political career I've challenged some of the best."

The mayor said he plans to focus his campaign on publicizing his first-term accomplishments, which include gains made in increasing affordable housing.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.