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Candidate Spotlight II

The second in a series of political snapshots of candidates whose names will appear on the ballots in next month’s primary election.

July 12, 2012
Maui Weekly Staff , The Maui Weekly

With the Aug. 11 primary election less than a month away, candidates hoping to claim--and in some cases, reclaim--seats in the Hawai'i State Senate, House of Representatives and Maui County Council are stepping up efforts to win over their constituents. While much attention has been focused on the presidential and congressional races this election cycle, the upcoming county and state elections are just as significant to Maui County voters.

In order to keep our readers informed and engaged in the political process, the Maui Weekly concludes its series of political snapshots with profiles of some of the candidates who hope to soon become one of the nine members of the Maui County Council. It's important to note that three incumbent candidates--Mike White, who currently holds the Makawao-Ha'iku-Pa'ia residency seat, West Maui Councilmember Elle Cochran and Bob Carroll, who represents the East Maui district--will run unopposed in next month's primary election.

Kahului Residency Seat

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Maui attorney Don Guzman is one of three candidates who hope to represent the Kahului District on the Maui County Council, an office that will soon be vacated by longtime Councilmember Joe Pontanilla, who is running for the state House of Representatives.

Three contenders have tossed their hats in the ring to fill the Kahului residency seat on the Maui County Council. The office will be up for grabs following the impending departure of longtime Councilmember Joe Pontanilla, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the state House of Representatives' District 9 seat.

Republican hopeful Erin McLaughlin is a newcomer to the political arena. "I am an educated guy and I know the Constitution," he said. "So I decided to run." McLaughlin will square off against one of the two Democratic candidates, Alan Fukuyama and Don Guzman.

Fukuyama, who is also a small business owner, is running on a platform of "bringing common sense back to government."

His primary opponent, Don Guzman, is a local attorney who once served as a deputy prosecutor for the County of Maui, as well as U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono's Maui field representative.

Pukalani-Kula-'Ulupalakua Residency Seat

Gladys Baisa, who will complete three two-year terms on the Maui County Council this year, will run against challenger Richard Pohle, a retired physicist and Kula resident who is perhaps best known as the driving force behind the Upcountry Meter List Association (UMLA).

South Maui Residency Seat

Incumbent Councilmember Don Couch will square off against fellow GOP candidate Alana Kay in the primary election next month.

Kay said she entered the political arena to facilitate change in local government. "Both tourist destination and home to her residents, Maui is in many ways an example of how good life can be," she said. "I believe that our government officials should serve selflessly and take great care in making decisions that result in win-win problem solving strategies."

Councilmember Couch said he is running for reelection "because we need a vibrant economy that supplies the jobs that allow our families to prosper [and] because there is a need for continued common sense in the way we operate the county government."

Wailuku-Waihe'e-Waikapu Residency Seat

In what may be the most hotly contested race this election season, incumbent Councilmember Mike Victorino is running against two challengers--Joseph Blackburn II and Lisa Gapero, who hope to replace him as the newest representative of the Wailuku District.

Victorino, who currently serves as the chairman of the council's Water Resources Committee, said he hopes to continue serving his constituents for another term.

Blackburn, a former fire captain and police officer, said he will work on improving local infrastructure and social welfare if elected.

Gapero, who ran against Victorino in the last council race, vows to stimulate job growth and create "innovative change" if she wins the seat on the Maui County Council.

Voter Information

To learn more about these candidates and to view their respective financial disclosure statements, visit the County of Maui Website at Remember, the deadline to register for the primary election or request an absentee ballot is Thursday, July 12, and voting booths will be open on Saturday, Aug. 11. If you miss the primary election, don't worry. There's still time to participate in the parliamentary process. The deadline to register for the 2012 general election is_Monday, Oct. 8, and you can cast your ballots on "Super Tuesday," Nov. 6.

To register to vote, visit to download the WikiWiki Voter Registration (Hawai'i's registration-by-mail procedure), contact the County of Maui Office of Elections at (808) 270-7749, visit the State of Hawai'i Office of Elections Website at or call toll-free (800) 442-VOTE (8683).



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