By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Valerie Poindexter has won the Hawaii County Council District 1 race.
Poindexter, 53, of Ookala had received 2,908 votes votes, or 61 percent, with five of eight precincts reporting.
Her opponent, Chelsea Yagong, received 1,834 votes votes, or 38 percent, losing a chance to keep the seat in the family.
Her father, Dominic Yagong, has held the seat for 12 of the last 16 years, and is stepping down from politics after an unsuccessful mayoral bid this year. His council term ends next month.
Poindexter said she believes voters were looking for a change in style and pledged to bring a more grassroots approach to the council.
“What people want is for their voices to be heard and for them not to be neglected in the community,” she said Tuesday evening.
The largely rural district includes the Hamakua Coast, North Hilo and a portion of South Hilo.
Poindexter has run on the promise to be an advocate for the district, relying on community input to help form her agenda.
She said she will prepare for the council by determining her strengths and weakness and which committees she would fit best.
Poindexter is a human resources manager at Hamakua Health Center, Ookala Community Association president and a member of several other boards and foundations, including the Brantley Center.
She has said she would step down from her job to be a full-time council member.
Training and educating Big Island residents to fill local jobs has also been a priority for her.
Chelsea Yagong, 26, of Ahualoa is a former Foodland deli manager who now teaches performing arts at Honokaa Elementary School.
She didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
Chelsea Yagong had advocated leasing 900 acres of agriculture land in Pa‘auilo, building a visitor center at Waipio Valley lookout, starting the second phase of the Sand Gulch bypass road and a sidewalk project on Lehua Street in Honokaa.
She said she was ready for the council, after learning from her father’s experiences, but would have set her own agenda.
The race was the closest out of all the council contests in the primary, with just 93 votes separating Poindexter and Chelsea Yagong at the time.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.