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Boone bypasses DeLeon and will face U‘u-Hodgins in council race

DeLeon had been leading Boone on Saturday night before the last batch of ballots had been counted

U‘u-Hodgins

First-time political candidate Nohe U’u-Hodgins said she was “super, super excited” as she led the race for the Maui County Council’s Makawao-Paia-Haiku residency seat.

“I’m going to take a minute to enjoy this moment, spend time with my family,” she said Saturday night, before regrouping for the general election.

She finished first among five candidates in the race with 11,922 votes, or 30.2 percent, as of Sunday afternoon.

The Makawao resident and her family members were gathered at her parents’ house in Paia on election night.

U’u-Hodgins, a permit facilitator and daughter of carpenter union representative Bruce U’u, was the top fundraiser among council candidates, raising about $63,000.

Boone

She said she thought it was her message that resonated with voters.

“We need affordable housing. We need a balance of culture and housing and the environment so we can continue to live here,” she said. “We all know somebody who has left and wants to come home.

“I think that’s the message that reaches most people. We just all hope to continue to live here.”

Meanwhile, a surge of more than 3,000 votes propelled Nara Boone over Dave DeLeon into second place in the Makawao-Haiku-Paia race.

Boone had been trailing DeLeon with 4,865 votes, or 17.1 percent, to DeLeon’s 5,622 votes, or 19.7 percent, as of the second printout at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. DeLeon went to sleep in the lead at about 11 p.m. and woke up on Sunday to find that Boone had closed the gap and finished with 7,608 votes, or 19.3 percent, to DeLeon’s 7,258 votes, or 18.4 percent, as of 1 p.m. Sunday.

DeLeon

“There was a part of me that just knew not to panic until the final word, the final say,” Boone said Sunday. “I’m not somebody that takes no for an answer, and even when I hear no, I often look at like OK, what’s another possibility, what’s another way to make this work? So I wasn’t feeling particularly pessimistic when I went to bed.”

DeLeon said Sunday afternoon that “I would’ve liked to have tried to keep on going, but when it’s over, it’s over.”

He acknowledged that had he advanced, he would have had to face U’u-Hodgins’ strong organizational backing — she raised more than any other council candidate during the April-to-June period, with some top donations coming from developers and unions. Boone, meanwhile, had been one of the progressive Maui Pono Network’s endorsed “Maui ‘Ohana Candidates” for the primary election.

“It was a combination of factors,” DeLeon said of his loss. “I knew this would kind of be a squeeze, because on one side you have the resources of the carpenters union and Nohe, and on the other side I had the resources of the ‘Ohana, and I’m just basically a single candidate operator in the middle.”

Boone said she didn’t see her matchup with U’u-Hodgins in the general election as a union versus ‘Ohana type of race.

“I think that Nohe and I and Dave, I think we all want what’s best for the islands, but we see the solution differently,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that it’s OK to be pro one thing without being anti something else.”

Daniel Smith finished fourth in the Makawao-Haiku-Paia race with 2,982 votes, followed by Aram Armstrong with 1,808 votes as of 1 p.m. Sunday.

The seat is being vacated by Council Member Mike Molina, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor, finishing fifth of eight candidates.

In the South Maui race, the other open seat on the council, Tom Cook was the top vote-getter with 34.9 percent or 13,759 votes.

“I joke with my friends that this is my second election, so I’m a second-year apprentice,” he said. “I have a lot to learn.”

Compared with the last time he ran for the seat, COVID wasn’t such an issue in the campaign.

“People have been so helpful,” he said. “Local people coming together, it’s a beautiful thing. The happy, powerful side of politics is what I’ve witnessed this campaign.”

Cook, a contractor, already is thinking about ways to tackle the shortage of affordable housing in the county.

In the general election, he will face Robin Knox, an environmental scientist who finished second with 31 percent or 12,242 votes, closing down the gap from the second printout when she had 8,241 votes to Cook’s 10,586.

Knox was endorsed by Council Member Kelly King, who is vacating the seat after her unsuccessful run for mayor, finishing third to Richard Bissen and Mayor Michael Victorino.

Knox didn’t return a call seeking comment Saturday night.

Dennis O’Shea, a retired fire captain, Naval Reserves veteran and business owner, received 3,307 votes, or 10.3 percent.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com. Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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