Victorino vs. Cochran
Guzman is odd man out in Nov. 6 general election
Former Maui County Council Member Mike Victorino took a strong early lead in the mayor’s race and held on throughout the night to advance to the general election along with Council Member Elle Cochran on Saturday night.
Victorino finished with 13,144 percent of the votes, or 40 percent, while Cochran secured 10,003 votes, or 30.5 percent, according to the third printout with 33 of 34 precincts reporting. Council Member Don Guzman finished third with 7,873 votes, or 24 percent.
“I was surprised but not totally surprised,” Victorino said while awaiting the final results at a rally. “I think I felt very good over the last month in talking with people out there in the community. The grass-roots support was there. People believe in my message of collaboration and bringing people together, and I’ve done that. I’ve proved that through the years.”
Cochran said she was “super stoked to be advancing.”
“I’m hearing a lot of new voters don’t understand that I’m in the top two and will be advancing to the general election,” Cochran said. “They thought I lost. Now they are happy we get another chance. Yes, our work is cut out for us, but onward and upward.”
Mayor Alan Arakawa is vacating the office due to term limits. Arakawa ran against Natalie “Tasha” Kama and Deb Kaiwi in the race for the Kahului council residency seat and finished second to Kama; the two will face off again in the general election.
As in 2014, this year’s mayoral race had seven candidates, a crowded field that Victorino, Cochran and Guzman led by a comfortable margin from the get-go.
When the first results rolled in, Victorino was ahead with with 7,976 votes, or 44.7 percent. Cochran was second with 4,714 votes, or 26.4 percent of the vote, followed by Guzman with 4,140 votes, or 23.3 percent.
By the second printout, Victorino had 9,022 votes, or 43.7 percent, while Cochran had widened her lead to 5,644 votes, or 27.3 percent, to Guzman’s 4,793 votes, or 23.2 percent.
“Every election, my numbers, this is the pattern,” Cochran said. “I’m down in the beginning, and I increasingly just keep coming to the top.”
The closest challenger to the top three candidates was Orion “Ori” Kopelman, who collected 351 votes, or 1.1 percent, by the third printout.
Victorino, who served on the Maui County Council from 2007 to 2016, said that between now and the general election he plans to “work harder.”
“Keep the message simple,” he said. “Keep the message consistent, and make sure the bottom line in all of this is the people of Maui County are going to be the benefactors of what my administration plans to do. With their help, we will all be in a better place.”
Victorino said he felt there had been a lot of “nastiness” on social media surrounding Maui County’s political scene as of late.
“I’m hoping that we can stick to the issues, stick to what we’re going to do,” Victorino said. “I want to see that kind of a campaign, versus a Mainland-style campaign, if you want to use that term. For me, I will do my best to keep the high road.”
Cochran, who has represented West Maui on the council since 2011 and chairs the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, said she was encouraged by the results of council races, including the success of fellow Ohana Coalition-backed candidates.
“I think things are going to turn around for a lot of the supposed progressive candidates,” she said. “I think this is our time to prevail, and a lot of work went into it, a lot of education.”
She didn’t agree with Victorino’s take on the political scene and said she planned to run a campaign focused on her own platform.
“It’s not about comparing or contrasting or putting others down or belittling their ideas,” she said. “It’s always, I’m going to hype up and praise and bring awareness and education to what I want to do.”
Guzman, a former private practice attorney and deputy prosecutor for the county, has represented the Kahului residency seat on the council since 2013. He currently chairs the Parks, Recreation, Energy and Legal Affairs Committee and has been widely involved in the Maui Filipino community, including serving as legal counsel for the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce and earning a community service award from the Maui Filipino Community Council.
“I think the people have spoken,” Guzman said. “I think that at this point in time there are two candidates with two different agendas and represent truly, I think, it’s a division in our community. For a person like me who is a moderate candidate that represented the balance, it was probably most likely difficult to overcome the two polar sides. But I wish them the best.”
Guzman said he doesn’t plan to be involved in either administration or in a county position. Politics was always meant to be a temporary career, said Guzman, adding that he will likely go back to his private law practice in Wailuku.
“I really truly feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have served Maui County and have given all that I have acquired in my life, including my education and my skills, to better the community,” Guzman said. “The legislation that I have passed and supported, as well as drafted, I will always feel proud of and have that legacy to leave behind.”
Guzman said he wasn’t sure who he planned to support in the general election.
* Colleen Uechi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.