City Councilwoman Andria Tupola, who was the Republican candidate for Hawaii governor in 2018, said Wednesday she will not run for governor again next year.

Tupola also disclosed during a live-streamed public discussion Wednesday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight” show she is not vaccinated against COVID-19, but said she has some degree of natural immunity to the coronavirus because she was infected last year during a trip to Utah.

“The night of the election when I was elected as a City Council member, of course, still in my heart, I wanted to run for governor,” Tupola said Wednesday.

But the former state House minority leader said her Leeward Oahu constituents “want me to serve just as I told them I was when I ran for City Council, and so I’m going to finish my four-year term as a City Council member.”

Her four-year term on the council ends in 2024, and “for me and for my family, we prayed about it and we’re OK about that decision,” she said. However, Tupola also said she is “preparing myself” for the future.

Andria Tupuola Republican candidate for Hawaii governor greets campaign staff and volunteers in Honolulu, Hawaii. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo by Ronen Zilberman
Andria Tupola, the Republican candidate for Hawaii governor in 2018, says she will not run again in 2022. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2018

“It’s not just about winning the governor’s race, it’s about becoming the governor, being somebody that people trust, getting to the level of understanding the issues of Hawaii, and being able to solve those issues,” she said.

Tupola, 40, also expressed some concern about the coronavirus vaccine during a live Facebook appearance with her fellow Honolulu City Councilman Augie Tulba.

Tupola said her entire family was infected with the coronavirus last year in Utah, but said she and her children had no symptoms such as a runny nose or a cough. Her husband and her brother did have some symptoms, she said.

When asked if she is vaccinated, Tupola said that “I personally am trying to make sure that I’m making the best decision for my kids, and seeing as though there were some of the early on vaccinations that there were some adverse effects towards children — there is a friend of ours in Utah who he had taken the vaccine and developed (a) brain tumor, and he was a junior in high school.”

“And so I really wanted to make sure that whatever decision I make for our family is going to be correct, seeing as though we have been through the virus, we have contracted those symptoms, we’ve developed a level of immunity — to what level I don’t know because they’re still coming out with those studies as to how immune you are when you’ve already contracted it,” she said.

When asked a second time if she has been vaccinated, Tupola said she has not. She said people who have already been infected should work with their health providers “to make the best decisions for their family.”

The state Department of Health has been urgently advocating for months that eligible residents get vaccinated, and point out most of the infections and hospitalizations in the recent surge in Hawaii have been among unvaccinated residents.

Tulba said he and his family are vaccinated, but he disagrees with any plan by the mayors that would mandate vaccinations for city and county workers.

“I think we all have rights, I believe it’s a personal choice, and I don’t think anything should be mandatory, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

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