State Rep. and City Council candidate Charles Djou, left, and Carol Philips, a Republican candidate for state House District 46, chatted yesterday after the Republican Unity Branch event at Linda Lingle's headquarters.

Council candidates will seek
support of primary race losers

Second-place finishers are upbeat
despite the historical trend

Key Council matchups

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The six second-place finishers in Saturday's Honolulu City Council races who qualified to move on to a runoff in November will need to make history in order to win their races.

In the two elections since the city went to the nonpartisan, double-elimination system for Council races, no one who has made it into the general election after finishing second in the primary election has won in November, according to City Clerk Genny Wong.

The system requires a first-place finisher to get 50 percent of votes cast plus one vote in order to win outright on primary day. Otherwise, the two top vote-getters face off on general election day.

In 1998, Melodie Aduja and Russ Francis took incumbents Steve Holmes and Andy Mirikitani, respectively, into the second round but failed to muster enough support to overtake them. In 1994 it was Joe Pickard, Karen Iwamoto and Lei Ahu Isa who qualified for the runoff election after finishing second in the first round only to lose to Holmes, Duke Bainum and Jon Yoshimura, respectively.

Pam Witty-Oakland, who finished second in the 1st District (Waianae to Ewa) to Mike Gabbard on Saturday, said the previous pattern is not applicable this year. The five previous second-place finishers "all lost to sitting incumbents," Witty-Oakland said. "Mr. Gabbard is not the incumbent here."

She said that she has already received endorsements from John Kaopua, who finished third in the race, and Donna Broome, who placed fifth and, yesterday afternoon, was trying to reach the other three candidates in an attempt to enlist their support.

John Steelquist, who finished second Saturday to Rod Tam in District 6 (Makiki to Kalihi), also noted that the five previous cases involved incumbents.

Steelquist said he is upbeat about the upcoming general election. "(Tam) got more votes than I did, but together we didn't get much more than half," he said. "That means a lot of voters chose somebody else, and those are the people we are going to try to talk to."

Gerry Hagino, who finished second on Saturday to Donovan Dela Cruz in District 2 (Mililani Mauka to Kaneohe), pointed out that while no second-place finisher has won a Council race in the nonpartisan system, it did happen in an islandwide race.

David Arakawa garnered 46 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race for city prosecutor against Peter Carlisle and Randal Yoshida in 1996 only to lose to Carlisle six weeks later.

"So anything can happen," Hagino said.

"I like being the underdog," said Mike Nakamura, who finished second to Nestor Garcia in District 9 (Makakilo to Mililani). "It gives me more incentive and it's more of a challenge. I would rather be the underdog at this point than slightly ahead."

Nakamura said he is hoping to pick up the support of many of those who voted for other candidates, particularly those of third-place finisher and fellow Mililani resident Cliff Laboy. Garcia is from Waikele.

Bob Fishman, who finished second to state Rep. Charles Djou Saturday in the 4th District (Hawaii Kai to Waimanalo), said he, too, will be courting the other three candidates in their race as well as their supporters, as did Stan Koki, who finished second to Barbara Marshall in District 3 (Kaneohe to Waimanalo).


Key Council matchups

District 1 (Waianae Coast to Ewa)

Mike Gabbard vs. Pam Witty-Oakland
Key to victory: Gabbard will try to capitalize on his name recognition and reputation for family values. Witty-Oakland will emphasize her experience working in the community as an aide to outgoing Councilman John DeSoto.

District 2 (Mililani Mauka to Kaneohe)

Donovan Dela Cruz vs. Gerald Hagino
Key to victory: The energetic Dela Cruz will continue to emphasize his youthfulness and the need for new blood, while Hagino will be reminding people about his 14 years of legislative experience. Wooing third-place finisher Ernie Martin's votes is also critical.

District 3 (Kaneohe to Waimanalo)

Barbara Marshall vs. Stan Koki
Key to victory: Marshall will be playing up her tough TV reporter roots even more as she goes head to head against Koki, a former state senator who won the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor four years ago.

District 4 (Hawaii Kai to Ala Moana)

Charles Djou vs. Bob Fishman
Key to victory: Djou is a young, up-and-coming politician and has GOP stripes in a Republican district, while Fishman, the former city administrator, will tout his government experience and more established roots in East Honolulu.

District 6 (Makiki to Kalihi)

Rod Tam vs. John Steelquist
Key to victory: Tam is known as a master campaigner who has fought off tough challenges while a state senator. Steelquist will contend that his lengthy service on the Makiki Neighborhood Board offers voters someone who knows government but has not been directly involved.

District 9 (Makakilo to Mililani)

Nestor Garcia vs. Mike Nakamura
Key to victory: Garcia will tout his experience as a longtime member of the state House of Representatives, while Nakamura will continue to play the "integrity" card citing his years as police chief.

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