Carol Fukunaga was re-elected and Trevor Ozawa narrowly beat Tommy Waters in their Honolulu City Council races Tuesday night.
Fukunaga defeated Sam Aiona, 55 percent to 36 percent, for the District 6 seat, which represents much of Oahu’s urban core, including downtown Honolulu, Makiki, Punchbowl and Kalihi.
Ozawa beat Waters, who had lead most of the night, by just 47 votes. Ozawa and Waters were competing for the District 4 seat, representing East Honolulu neighborhoods, including Hawaii Kai, Kahala, Diamond Head, Aina Haina and Kaimuki.
“We are so grateful to our family, friends and neighbors for their unwavering belief in and support of our campaign,” Ozawa said in a statement. “It has been a very long and invigorating journey, and we are ready to work hard for the constituents of District 4.”
Trevor Ozawa and his family on election night.
Alana Eagle/Civil Beat
Two other open seats in the City Council were decided during the August primary with Council Chair Ernie Martin retaining his District 2 seat and Brandon Elefante winning the District 8 race. Elefante replaces Councilman Breene Harimoto, who has been elected to the Legislature.
Fukunaga, a veteran politician who spent two decades in the Hawaii Senate before taking over for Tulsi Gabbard in the City Council when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, faced stiff opposition this race.
Aiona, a former executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party, criticized Fukunaga for being an ineffective council member, arguing that she hadn’t done enough to improve the district’s dilapidated roads and address the homeless problem. This is the second runoff between the two. Aiona narrowly lost to Fukunaga in 2012.
Courtesy of Carol Fukunaga
Fukunaga was also attacked throughout the primary by AiKea UNITE HERE, a super PAC created by Local 5, a union representing hotel workers, after she deferred a union-backed bill earlier this year designed to stave off the conversion of hotels to condominiums.
Local 5 ran its own unsuccessful primary candidate, Joli Tokusato, against Fukunaga. Aikea spent $318,580, a hefty amount for a City Council race, in support of Tokusato and flooded the district with canvassers and negative ads against Fukunaga.
Waters and Ozawa, both attorneys, have agreed on many issues during the campaign, such as the need to create more affordable housing, build in the urban core and along the rail line and reduce homelessness through Housing First initiatives.
Their differences have come down more to a matter of experience.
Tommy Waters with supporters.
Alana Hong/Civil Beat
This would be the first elected office for Ozawa, who has painted himself as a political outsider not beholden to special interests. He served for about half a year as a legislative aide to Councilman Stanley Chang.
Waters, who has received support from Mayor Kirk Caldwell, served in the state House, representing Waimanalo and Lanikai from 2002 to 2008, and chaired the House Judiciary Committee. The race marks his first return to politics.
While Waters has received the bulk of union endorsements, including nods from the police, firefighters, plumbers, longshoremen and hotel workers, campaign records show that Ozawa actually received more campaign contributions from unions than Waters.
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