WAILUKU - The controversy over Maui County Council candidate Sol Kaho'ohalahala's residency continues.
Maui County Clerk Roy Hiraga ruled earlier this month that Kaho'ohalahala was qualified to run as a resident of Lanai. Now Bruce Harvey, one of 12 Lanai residents who previously filed challenges to Kaho'ohalahala's residency, has appealed that decision. The case is scheduled to be heard Friday by the Maui Board of Registration in Wailuku.
The time and place of the hearing have not been announced.
Also this week, Kaho'ohalahala filed a petition with the Hawaii Supreme Court asking the court to vacate Hiraga's ruling and dismiss all the residency challenges, said attorney Lance Collins.
Since the challenges were filed after the Sept. 20 first special election, they are really challenges to the election results, and only the state Supreme Court has jurisdiction over that, Collins said.
Kaho'ohalahala called the appeal a waste of time.
"I don't know what else to say," he said. "People are just vindictive, I guess."
Harvey said anyone on Lanai would know Kaho'ohalahala was not a resident.
"I've been here nine years, and I've never seen him at the gas station," he said.
Kaho'ohalahala finished first in a five-way primary race for the Lanai seat on the council. Runner-up John Ornellas is his opponent in the Nov. 4 second special election.
Kaho'ohalahala, who was born on Lanai and has previously represented the island on the council and in the state Legislature, has said he considers himself a resident, but has acknowledged living in Lahaina with his wife.
He works as an instructor at Maui Community College, and previously headed the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission.
In his ruling denying the challenges to Kaho'ohalahala's residency, Hiraga cited state law that says a person's "intention" to live in a home in the district determines whether they are a resident. He also noted that the law requires challenges to be filed before the first special election.
The appeal of the ruling keeps the issue alive even as walk-in absentee voting began Tuesday.
Harvey said he is not involved with Ornellas' campaign, but said Ornellas is a co-worker and that he has one of his campaign signs in his yard.
Harvey said he understood the ruling but believed the law was wrong.
"I believe this is the only way to bring this to people's attention," he said. "If this is the law, the law needs to be changed."
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at email@example.com.