In the closest Maui County Council race on Tuesday, attorney Don Guzman defeated businessman Alan "Al" Fukuyama by 17 percentage points, 23,415 votes to 14,903, for the Kahului residency seat.
Up until the second printout, Fukuyama appeared to be within striking distance of Guzman, a first-time council candidate. Fukuyama had run unsuccessfully for council in the past. Both were vying for the seat vacated by Joe Pontanilla, who could not seek re-election due to term limits.
Fukuyama could not be reached for comment after the final printout. After the first printout, which had him trailing by 10 percentage points, Fukuyama said he was waiting to see more numbers.
Reached after the first printout, Guzman said: "I think we all worked hard. . . . I feel very positive. I feel very grateful for our supporters that have been with me from the beginning and stuck with me until the end."
Guzman added that he had run a "clean campaign."
"I can't express my gratitude to all my supporters," he said.
Mike Victorino appears on Akaku on Tuesday night. He won re-election, defeating Joe Blackburn II for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency seat on the County Council.
The Maui News MATTHEW THAYER photo
Guzman, 43, could not be reached after he officially captured the seat.
In the other contested County Council race involving nonincumbents, Stacy Helm Crivello will assume the vacant Molokai residency seat left by Danny Mateo because of term limits. She defeated Molokai High School teacher Wilson "Manuwai" Peters 41.5 percent (20,234) to 22.8 percent (11,116).
Incumbent Mike Victorino handily beat challenger and longtime friend Joe Blackburn II, 55.7 percent (27,147) to 27.3 percent (13,299), to return to the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency seat.
Victorino could not be reached Tuesday night.
Although he didn't win, Blackburn said he was "relieved" for not having to go through long days of campaigning while running his real estate and property management business.
"We wanted to give it our best shot. We weren't going to do it any other way," he said.
Blackburn congratulated Victorino and his wife, Joycelyn, on the victory.
"It was an interesting race," he said. "We tried to keep it more community- and issue-based and (I) thought it was important."
As for another run at politics, Blackburn said he wasn't sure.
"The toll it takes was more than I expected. It's a decision I can't make on my own," he said.
For the South Maui residency seat, Don Couch will assume his second term as he defeated Alana Kay, 55.4 percent (27,034) to 21.3 percent (10,385).
Incumbent Gladys Coelho Baisa will also return to her Upcountry seat as she crushed retired scientist and Upcountry water meter advocate Richard Pohle, 57.4 percent (27,985) to 18.5 percent (9,022).
After the second printout showing her about 7,000 votes ahead of Peters, Crivello said, "I'm grateful."
"I want to thank my opponent. I believe we both ran with complete aloha and respect for one another," she said.
She encouraged Peters to continue to become more engaged with the community.
Crivello, 66, said the first thing she will do when she assumes office will be to be mentored by the returning and outgoing council members. She also said she will immerse herself in the county and community issues.
Peters could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
After the second printout showed him with a 13,000 vote lead over Kay, Couch said he was pleased to be back on the council.
"I'm happy that people have the confidence in me to continue in the seat," he said.
He added that he wanted to hear from those who didn't vote in the race, although he said sometimes the blank votes are because some residents only vote for their district.
There were 11,330 blank votes in the South Maui race.
Couch said that in his second term, he hopes to continue as chairman of the planning committee and will work at legislation on home-based businesses and "tweaking" the short-term rental bill and look at mixed zoning issues.
Kay said her first run at politics "was really positive."
"I believe most people who met me were pleasantly surprised," she added. "They were pleased I was running."
Kay said she will run for the South Maui seat again and believed that she wasn't able to get out and campaign enough so she wasn't able to get her name out. She said her top issues were smart growth, strengthening infrastructure and returning water as a public trust resource.
Baisa said she was "very excited" to enter her fourth term on the council, where she intends to seek the body's chairmanship. She added that there is still a lot of work ahead, including completing the community plans, getting approvals of the general plan as well as taking care of the Upcountry water meter list.
Baisa added that the council members elected Tuesday will make "a wonderful team."
Opponent Pohle said: "I didn't expect to win."
But he ran for two reasons. One, Baisa was running unopposed, and he claimed that she "has done nothing" to help the Upcountry water meter issue.
He also wanted to publicize that a lack of water was not an issue but rather a matter of development.
He said the big companies could drill their own wells when "the poor little guys" could not get a water meter.
"That made me so mad, so I ran," he said.
He said he will continue to monitor the water meter issue.
Four incumbent County Council members ran unopposed: Bob Carroll of East Maui, Elle Cochran of West Maui, Mike White of Makawao-Haiku-Paia and Riki Hokama of Lanai.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.