GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Charmaine Tavares spoke to supporters at her Wailuku headquarters last night as early results showed her leading mayoral incumbent Alan Arakawa. CLICK FOR LARGE
Maui votes for new mayor - again
Charmaine Tavares says housing and water will be on the top of her agenda
WAILUKU » For the second mayoral election in a row, Maui County voters have rejected an incumbent.
Maui Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares defeated incumbent Mayor Alan Arakawa, who conceded late last night.
"I just want to congratulate Charmaine and wish her the best," he said.
In 2002, Maui County voters turned away incumbent Democratic Mayor James "Kimo" Apana in favor of Arakawa.
"This is awesome. ... It just blows me away," said Tavares at her campaign headquarters in Wailuku.
Tavares, 63, daughter of the late Maui Mayor Hannibal Tavares, received a major endorsement after the primary election from Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Tavares has run as a Republican for the County Council early in her political career, but the mayoral race is nonpartisan.
Tavares' victory represents a blow to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who endorsed Arakawa before the primary.
Like her father, Tavares has attracted independent voters, including Democrats, to her campaign. She said her administration plans to deal with the issues of affordable housing and water.
"There is enough water. We just have to get it, capture it, store it and deliver it. That's what we don't have," Tavares said.
In her campaign, Tavares noted that as county parks director, she helped to institute a county program to allow young children to receive recreational supervision at schools during the summer.
Tavares, the Maui County Council's planning chairwoman, made the lack of affordable housing a major issue in her campaign and criticized the Arakawa administration for not doing enough.
Tavares said the waiting lines were long for affordable housing projects and many of the housing projects are still in the county pipeline.
She pledged to work with the private sector to get them built quickly and promised to be inclusive and listen to all points of view.
A number of residents criticized the Arakawa administration for the county's inability to deal quickly with the disposal of abandoned junk cars and for supporting the treatment of contaminated well water at Hamakuapoko.
Residents have also complained about infrastructure, including roads in west Maui, failing to keep up with traffic generated by new housing and hotel development.