East vs. west
By PETER SUR
Tribune-Herald staff writer
There still exists a split between East and West Hawaii, if votes from the mayor’s race are any indication.
Mayor Billy Kenoi carried West Hawaii in his bid for re-election and Harry Kim carried East Hawaii, an analysis of the race shows.
Kenoi racked up the highest vote totals in the 5th, 6th and 7th House Districts of West Hawaii, which run from Naalehu in the south to Hawi in the north. Combined, they gave Kenoi 14,366 votes to Kim’s 10,858 votes, for a difference of 3,508 votes. That was more than enough to overcome Kim’s advantage in the Puna and Hamakua districts.
In House Districts 1 through 4, representing East Hawaii from Kukuihaele to Pahala, voters are still wild about Harry. Kim carried those districts, receiving 19,502 votes to 17,431 for Kenoi, for a difference of 2,071 votes.
Despite the closeness of the final vote, the outcome was no contest in Puna and Hamakua, where Kim raked in the votes in Tuesday’s runoff against Kim’s former executive assistant.
Nor was it close in Kona and Kohala, where Kenoi swept the precincts from Waimea to Kealakekua, and in Hilo, where the incumbent mayor did well enough to preserve his 1,437-vote margin of victory.
Puna, the birthplace of both Kim and Kenoi, broke heavily for Kim, as it did in the primary election.
Hamakua also supported Kim after its representative on the County Council, outgoing Chairman Dominic Yagong, endorsed Kim for mayor.
And in a switch from the primary election, voters in South Kona and Ka‘u (with the exception of Pahala) supported Kim over Kenoi.
But the victor was Kenoi, who has made it a point in his first term of emphasizing the importance of West Hawaii. The west side responded to the increased attention, rewarding him with the votes and giving him four more years.
That’s the assessment of Councilman-elect Dru Kanuha.
“I know a lot of people, especially in the Kona area, were pretty satisfied in the last four years” as they noticed things were getting done, Kanuha said. He said the talk of an east-west split in Hawaii County, rampant during the years of the Kim administration, had largely quieted down since Kenoi was elected.
With the new roads being built in Kona and Kenoi’s emphasis on picking department heads from West Hawaii, and the construction of the West Hawaii Civic Center, people are seeing that things are getting done, Kanuha said.
“We need to have roads, connections, and that’s what we needed. And that’s what we got,” Kanuha said.
Meanwhile in Puna, Rob Tucker, a community advocate and board member of the Friends of Puna’s Future, said the roads were the issue that kept people from voting for Kenoi.
Four years ago, Tucker attempted to work with Kenoi, but “that cooperation never materialized.”
“Whether it will at this point, I guess time will tell,” Tucker said. He faulted Kenoi for not making progress on the decades-long issue of fuel taxes, paid by Puna and Ka‘u drivers who use the 750 miles of roads within private subdivisions, that are going out of the district to roads elsewhere in the county.
Tucker, who supported Kim, said geothermal issues also hurt Kenoi’s support in the district. For example, the precinct that includes Leilani Estates, Kapoho and Puna Geothermal Venture supported Kim by a vote of 1,828 to 1,173.
“I think Harry is warmly regarded in Puna, and … I think far less so with Billy,” Tucker said.
Email Peter Sur at email@example.com.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.