Former Judge Richard Bissen leads the Maui mayoral field with more than $176,000 in fundraising so far this year, according to new reports filed Monday with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Maui County locator map

That outpaces opponents Mayor Michael Victorino and Maui County Councilman Mike Molina, who reported raising about $116,000 and nearly $21,000, respectively, during the four-month period.

At a time when Maui County is reeling from an affordable housing crisis, a shortage of livable wages, an over-reliance on the tourism industry and the symptoms of a warming climate, all three leading candidates have identified housing, jobs and the environment as cornerstones of their campaign.

A former chief judge of the Maui 2nd Circuit Court, Bissen stepped down from his judgeship in December in the midst of his second 10-year appointment, which was set to expire in 2025. At the time he told The Maui News of his interest in leveraging his experience amassed over the course of a 35-year legal career into a bid for political office.

All three leading candidates for mayor of Maui County on Monday filed financial disclosure reports with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission. Ludwig Laab/Civil Beat/2021

Bissen’s campaign noted in an email on Monday that more than 350 statewide individual donors contributed to his coffers. He has so far outspent his rivals with more than $96,000 in expenditures. He has about $80,000 on hand.

Victorino is seeking a second four-year term after voters installed him in the county’s top office in January 2019. He defeated Councilwoman Elle Cochran by 11% in the 2018 election.

A former insurance adviser, he served on the Maui County Council for eight years before running up against term limits in 2016.

Politician wearing aloha shirt in headshot
Richard Bissen, a former judge, announced his campaign for Maui mayor in January with a platform centered on housing, jobs and the environment. 

In his annual State of the County address in March, Victorino discussed his top priorities for the year to come, which include promoting economic diversification, improving tourism management, adapting the county to the climate crisis and boosting the construction of housing for working families.

He also offered some strategies, such as setting more money aside for the county’s emergency fund, increasing dollars for housing programs and ramping up workforce training programs.

Victorino has spent about $49,000 of his campaign contributions. With nearly $124,000 still in his control, he has the greatest surplus of the three candidates.

Rounding out the election field is Molina, who serves on the County Council as the chairman of the government relations, ethics and transparency committee.

The native of Makawao is also a substitute public school teacher. Previously, he served as an executive assistant to former Mayor Alan Arakawa.

Molina has spent about $16,000 of his campaign funds and has about $9,000 on hand.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.

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