Atay wins Wailuku council seat in come-from-behind victory

After nearly 3,000 votes were counted late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, natural farm alchemist Alika Atay came from behind to defeat former Maui County Council Member Dain Kane for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu council residency seat, according to general election results posted at 5:18 a.m.

Kane led from the first printout, which had him ahead of Atay by 1,781 votes after only absentee mail-in and walk-in ballots were counted and reported. Meanwhile, Tuesday night leaders in county council races maintained their leads and held on to win seats.

Vote tallies show Atay, a leader in the SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina) movement, with 23,320 votes, or 44 percent, while Kane took 22,512 votes, or 42.5 percent. Atay’s 808-vote margin of victory may be attributed, in part at least, to votes at the Haiku Community Center where approximately 2,500 paper ballots remained to be counted after the third printout late Tuesday night.

Deputy Maui County Clerk Josiah Nishita reported late Tuesday night that the Haiku ballots were uncounted as well as about 300 late mail dropoffs and 170 duplicated ballots.

Voter turnout was “unbelievable” at Haiku, according to poll officials there.

Haiku voting Chairwoman Nadine Newlight said the precinct’s ballot machine broke down in the morning, after about 200 to 300 people passed through. She said she wasn’t sure the machine had properly counted the morning’s votes, so she made an “executive decision” to set the ballots aside and send them to the state Board of Elections to be counted by hand later.

The machine was replaced, and from 9:30 a.m. to around 5 p.m., 1,417 voters had turned in ballots, Newlight said.

Voting results from the Haiku Community Center precinct showed Atay taking 1,448 votes, or 65 percent, while Kane had 480 votes, or 21.6 percent. There were 299 blank votes, 13.4 percent.

Atay also took Haiku’s absentee walk-in voters with 251 ballots to Kane’s 79; and he received 748 mail-in votes from Haiku while Kane garnered 463.

Atay will succeed Council Member Mike Victorino, who stepped down because of term limits.

Kihei businesswoman Kelly Takaya King fought off a late surge of votes for South Maui County Council Member Don Couch to maintain her upset of the three-term council member and chairman of the council’s Planning Committee.

Late Tuesday night, King had only a 136-vote lead over Couch, who had been behind since the first printout. But according to the 5:18 a.m. voting report, she had extended her winning margin to 1,052 votes – 23,641 to 22,589.

In another much-watched race, Yuki Lei Kashiwa Sugimura defeated Napua Greig-Nakasone. Sugimura took in 23,263, or 43.9 percent, to Greig-Nakasone’s 22,211 votes, or 41.9 percent.


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