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State House: Cantere and Halperin divided by 21 votes, headed for recount

Poepoe beats incumbent Clark, Cochran defeats Balinbin, Woodson wins over Peralta

Cantere

Shekinah Cantere and Netra Halperin are headed for a recount in the Republican primary for South Maui’s House District 11, after the latest results on Sunday showed Cantere ahead by a 21-vote margin.

As of 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Cantere had 678 votes, or 40.6 percent, to Halperin’s 657 votes, or 39.4 percent. Halperin had been ahead most of the evening and led with 435 votes to Cantere’s 391 as of 10:30 p.m. Saturday night. Both candidates had gone to sleep Saturday night uncertain of the final results.

“It was really close. I honestly didn’t know what to expect because this is my first time doing this and my opponent is kind of already known in the political world,” Cantere said Sunday. “I’m super blessed and humbled that many people voted for me.”

Cantere had been hopeful as the gap slowly shrank between the two candidates, going from 72 votes after the first printout to 43 votes after the second.

“I knew I would get closer because a lot of people voted in person that hadn’t tallied yet, and I was one of them that voted in person on Saturday,” Cantere said.

Halperin

Halperin went to bed at around 12:30 a.m. and said it wasn’t until about 10:30 a.m. that she saw the updated counts, “and then very shortly after that, I got the email from the Office of Elections saying that they’re going to do the mandatory recount.”

State law requires a recount of any race with a margin equal to or less than 100 votes or one-quarter of one percent of the total number of votes cast for the contest, whichever is greater. The state Office of Elections confirmed the recount is scheduled for 8 a.m. today.

Both candidates were invited to observe the recount at the county building.

“I think in this kind of case where it’s so close you want to see the votes handcounted and actually see the paper ballots,” Halperin said.

“Whatever the result is, then I’ll feel comfortable that this is the actual result.”

A total of 251 votes were left blank in the race.

In the Democratic primary for House District 11, Terez Amato pulled ahead after the first printout and never gave up the lead, finishing with 2,709 votes, or 61.2 percent, over Democratic competitor Randal Mahiai Jr.’s 966 votes, or 21.8 percent, according to results as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

In House District 13’s Democratic primary, Mahina Poepoe, the only Molokai candidate in the race and a new face to politics, beat incumbent Rep. Linda Clark with 2,382 votes, or 43 percent, to Clark’s 1,580 votes, or 28.5 percent. Chase Nomura came in third with 859 votes, or 15.5 percent.

Clark had been trailing by a little over 300 votes after the second tally released at around 10:30 p.m., showing Poepoe with 1,397 votes, or 39.8 percent, to Clark’s 1,060 votes, or 30.2 percent, before the final collection of votes widened Poepoe’s lead.

Poepoe will go on to face Republican Scott Adam and Nick Nikhilananda of the Green Party for District 13, which covers East Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

Neither Poepoe nor Clark could be reached for comment on Saturday or Sunday.

In a race to represent House District 14, which now encompasses West Maui, Kahakuloa and Waihee, former Council Member Elle Cochran took an early lead against Kahana resident Kanamu Balinbin with nearly 40 percent of the votes after the first tally.

By the second reading, Cochran slightly increased her lead to 1,444 votes, or 54 percent, to Balinbin’s 864 votes, or 32.3 percent.

She finished with 1,991 votes, or 54.8 percent, to Balinbin’s 1,133 votes, or 31.2 percent, as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

Cochran, who held the council’s West Maui residency seat from 2011 to 2018, will move on to the general election to face Republican Kelly Armstrong, who got 574 votes, and Aloha Aina candidate Leonard “Junya,” Nakoa III, who received 54 votes. Neither had an opponent in the primary.

Moving forward, Cochran wants to figure out how to engage the votes that were left blank. There were 254 blank votes after the second printout and 351 by Sunday night.

“I’m totally happy and stoked, of course, but the 254 blank votes, I definitely want to figure out where they’re at,” she said Saturday night. “I’m just going to keep working and keep my nose to the grindstone and do what I do — get out into the community and meet and greet and get as many votes from people as I can.”

Democratic incumbent Rep. Justin Woodson secured his seat for House District 9 from the start, racking up 70.8 percent of the voter pool, or 2,552 votes, to competitor Sam Peralta’s 635 votes, or 17.6 percent, after the second printout. He finished with 3,033 votes, or 68.7 percent, to Peralta’s 817 votes, or 18.5 percent. House District 9 covers Kahului, Puunene, Old Sand Hills and Maui Lani. There is no Republican challenger.

Woodson could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

Rep. Troy Hashimoto, who has no opponent in District 10, received 4,991 votes.

In House District 12, where none of the candidates had opponents in the primary, Democratic Rep. Kyle Yamashita received 4,961 votes, while Republican candidate Dan Johnson got 1,145 and the Green Party’s Summer Starr got 25 votes.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com. Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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