Big wave surfer Makua Rothman and longtime political insider Tyler Dos Santos-Tam have raised more than $100,000 each in campaign contributions for their bids to sit on the Honolulu City Council, according to the latest campaign finance report.

Meanwhile, Ron Menor, a former council member and state representative, outspent all 17 candidates vying for one of three City Council seats up for grabs in the Aug. 13 primary.

Rothman reported raising $100,816 from Jan. 1 to June 30 after starting this year with no money. He’s hoping to represent District 2, which encompasses a variety of neighborhoods on the North Shore.

The incumbent, Heidi Tsuneyoshi, is vacating her seat to run for governor as a Republican.

Rothman, who has benefited from supportive business owners and political action committees, spent more than $73,000 on fundraisers, T-shirts, political signs and professional services, leaving him with $17,737.

Honolulu City Council with in person session and a hand full of public in person testimony.
Nineteen people are vying for four seats on the Honolulu City Council this fall. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Dos Santos-Tam, former chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, is running for District 6, stretching from Kalihi Valley to portions of Kakaako. He’s hoping to replace Carol Fukunaga, who terms out and is running for Senate District 11.

He started with $40,593 at the beginning of this year and has raised $103,988 in the last six months. He still has $71,927 left after spending $72,654.

The nine-member City Council has four seats up for election. The only incumbent running is Tommy Waters, who represents the area from Waikiki to Hawaii Kai. He will face political newcomer Kaleo Nakoa in the Nov. 8 general election so they have until October to file their financial reports, according to the Campaign Spending Commission.

District 2 candidate Matt Weyer. Courtesy: Matt Weyer

Five candidates are vying to represent District 2, which encompasses the North Shore area.

Trailing behind Rothman in fundraising is former city prosecutor Matt Weyer who raised $61,164 in the last six months. He still has $22,878 after spending $38,286, considering he started the election with no money.

Weyer received $4,000 each from House District 25 candidate Kim Coco Iwamoto, former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Waters. He also got $1,000 from Sen. Stanley Chang and $250 from council member Esther Kiaaina.

Chad Tsuneyoshi, a political consultant, businessman and Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s ex-husband, raised $23,110 so far this year. He’s left with $8,125 after spending $14,984 on banners and fliers.

Tsuneyoshi received $4,000 from a family member, $2,000 from Local Union 293 State Legislature Fund, $3,000 from Plumbers and Pipefitters PAC Fund and $1,000 from the president of PVT Landfill.

The other District 2 candidates are Lupe Funaki and Racquel Achiu. Funaki raised $1,499 and spent $3,511, while Achiu raised $5,223 and spent $2,453.

District 6 candidate Tyler Dos Santos-Tam. Courtesy: Kat Wade

The most crowded council race is the District 6 seat with seven people hoping to represent the downtown Honolulu area.

Dos Santos-Tam and Ikaikai Hussey previously ran for the seat in 2018 but lost to Fukunaga.

Hussey has raised $13,791 in the last six months after starting this election period with $8,016 cash on hand.

He’s left with more than $7,000 after spending over $10,000 on merchant fees, beverages for campaign funders, banners and online advertisements.

Local musician Nalani Jenkins took in $53,668 in campaign contributions this year but spent $66,673, leaving her at a $9,628 deficit. She took $45,000 in loans for her campaign.

District 6 candidate Nalani Jenkins. Courtesy: Nalani Jenkins

She spent $6,624 in radio advertising and more than $18,000 for fundraising events. The rest of the money has been spent on manager services, banners and more.

Jenkins’ supporters include at least a dozen top executives from Alexander & Baldwin, AFB Construction, RM Towill, Royal Contracting Co., Pacific Power Electrical Contracting and X-Ring Security and Firearm Training.

Former Miss Hawaii Traci Toguchi raised $16,679 so far this year. She’s left with $3,743 after spending $6,656. She loaned her campaign $6,279.

She received support from BlackSand Capital, a real estate private equity firm, and City Fender and Body Service, a local automotive shop.

Chad Toshiro Wolke, a former congressional staffer, raised $15,602. His supporters include UpdatePower Corp., the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and IMF. He’s left with $9,446 after spending $5,827.

Chance Naauao-Ota, secretary of the Liliha/Puunui/Alewa/Kamehameha Heights Neighborhood Board, raised $3,398. He didn’t spend any money on his campaign as of June 30.

Dennis Nakasato didn’t file his spending report by Thursday’s deadline. He was unavailable for comment.

Five people are hoping to represent District 8, which includes Waimalu, Newtown, Pearl City, Seaview, Crestview, Waipio Gentry, Koa Ridge, Mililani Town and Mililani Mauka.

Two of them have the most political experience: Menor, who served on the City Council from 2013 to 2021 as well as the state House, and Val Okimoto, a Republican state representative.

Okimoto has raised $58,000 more in campaign contributions than Menor this year.

District 8 candidate Val Okimoto. Courtesy: Val Okimoto

Okimoto reported raising $80,208 from Jan. 1 to June 30 after starting this year with $36,905. She still has $91,653 after spending more than $17,000 this year, according to the latest campaign spending figures.

Her list of donors includes the Plumbers Political Action Committee, the Local Union 293 State Legislature Fund, the Commercial Plumbing Inc, the Lihue Airport Newsstand, The Kobayashi Group LLC, the Castle and Cooke Inc. Legislative Committee, and the executives at the Kobayashi Group.

Menor started out with more cash on hand with $462,899. He raised $20,750 this year.

Menor outspent all of his opponents across three City Council races, spending more than $117,000.

He spent his money on production for campaign material and supplies, social media advertisements, food for campaigning, and business cards.

District 8 candidate Ron Menor. Courtesy: Ron Menor

Menor received $2,500 from lawyers, $4,000 from Local 1 Political Action Committee, $2,000 from Masons Local 630, $1,000 from Kobayashi Group and $1,000 from the Hawaii Auto Dealers Elect Action Committee. He also got $500 each from Alexander & Baldwin and former state Sen. Robert Bunda.

Keone Simon, who ran unsuccessfully for House District 34, raised more than $60,000. He spent more than $79,000 and has about a $58,000 deficit.

In the last six months, he spent $15,000 for mentoring and training services from Hawaii Leadership Solutions, which is council member Andria Tupola’s consulting business. Simon also spent more than $15,000 on postage for mailers.

Starting this year with $11,506 cash on hand, Dion Mesta raised $17,383. He still has $21,882 after spending more than $7,000.

Mesta is council member Brandon Elefante’s legislative aide. Elefante gave $1,000 to support Mesta. Other notable donors are former council member Gary Okino, who donated $500; the founder of Kobayashi Group, who donated $200; and an administrative service assistant at the state Department of Education, who donated $2,000.

Charmaine Doran, who worked for the City Council for a couple of decades, raised $3,234 this year. She’s left with the same amount after spending little.

Oahu voters can expect the primary ballots in their mailboxes by July 26. City Council candidates need to earn 50% of the vote plus one in order to win outright in the primary. Otherwise the top two vote-getters will face a runoff in the November general election.

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