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Disputed candidate elected to Lanai post


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 05, 2008

WAILUKU » Former Maui County Council member Sol Kaho'ohalahala was elected to his old seat on Lanai, despite a dispute about his residency.

Kaho'ohalahala served as a Council member from Lanai from 1995 to 1998.

But State Board of Registration Chairman John Henry ruled Sunday that Kaho'ohalahala didn't fulfill the requirements of a voter to cast a ballot as a Lanai resident. However, Henry said the scope of the decision did not include whether Kaho'ohalahala was eligible as a candidate for council member from Lanai.

He claims residency via a family home in Lanai City, but his wife lives in a home in Lahaina.

The decision has raised questions from critics, including his opponent, Police Commission member John Ornellas.

Kaho'ohalahala last night called the residency challenge a "smear tactic" and said the board failed to follow the law defining residency. "Our intentions were good," he said. He said voters showed their support for his candidacy.

Maui County Clerk Roy Hiraga said he will be reviewing the board's decision.

Incumbent Maui Council members, meanwhile, appeared on their way to re-election.

Maui Council member William Medeiros defeated environmentalist Antoinette "Lucienne" De Naie for the East Maui seat, while incumbent Jo Anne Johnson of West Maui was re-elected over office account manager Alan A. Fukuyama.

Councilmember Joseph Pontanilla of Kahului won re-election against child therapist Susan L "Netra" Halperin, and Council member Gladys C. Baisa won re-election to her Upcountry seat against acupuncturist Michael S. Howden. Councilmember Michael Molina defeated his challenger Kai Nishiki for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia seat.

Her father, former Councilmember Wayne Nishiki, won in a close nonincumbent race with Don Couch, a former executive assistant and deputy planning director to Mayor Alan Arakawa. Nishiki stepped out of politics for several years after he reached the Council limit of serving five two-year terms under the county charter.

Councilmembers Danny Mateo and Michael Victorino ran unopposed.