Candidates vying for three seats on the Honolulu City Council have spent tens of thousands of dollars on campaign materials ranging from social media ads to personalized jar openers in the final weeks before the primary election on Saturday. 

The biggest spender last month was former council member Ron Menor, who is running against four other candidates to represent District 8, which encompasses central Oahu.

Meanwhile, former city prosecutor Matt Weyer overtook his opponent big wave surfer Makua Rothman in terms of raising money and spending it in July as they compete to represent the North Shore area on the nonpartisan council.

Honolulu City Council with in person session and a hand full of public in person testimony.
Three seats are up for grabs on the Honolulu City Council in the primary on Saturday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Menor spent $63,629 from July 1 to July 29 on campaign supplies and services, including nearly $4,188 on social media ads and $838 on food from Zippy’s, according to the most recent reports filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission. His total spending reported since the election period began was $248,589, outpacing all candidates across the three City Council races in contention.

Last month, he raised $4,000, the maximum donation allowed, from the Hawaii Laborers Political Action Committee, raising his election total to $501,616.

Menor represented District 9 – the Ewa Beach area –  on the City Council from 2013 to 2021. But district boundaries changed this year, allowing him to run for District 8, which includes Waimalu, Newtown, Pearl City, Seaview, Crestview, Waipio Gentry, Koa Ridge, Mililani Town and Mililani Mauka.

His rival candidate Rep. Val Okimoto, meanwhile, reported spending $32,698 in July for a total of $60,209 in the election period. She spent her money on campaign mailer printing, campaign mailer postage, postage stamps, Facebook ads and water and Bento boxes for volunteers.

She raised $9,484 last month, totaling $100,073 in the election period so far.


Keone Simon, who is running for political office for a second time, spent $43,517 more than Okimoto -- with a total of $103,726 -- for the entire election period. But he only spent $12,056 in July, with the largest expense listed as $3,253 on commercial advertising at KHON.

Simon also raised $8,050 in July for an election total of $104,396.

In the first seven months of this year, Simon spent $15,000 for mentoring and training services from Hawaii Leadership Solutions, which is Councilwoman Andria Tupola's consulting business. Campaign records also show that Hawaii Leadership Solutions gave him free mentoring and training for July.

Simon also spent $2,527, totaling to more than $21,000 this year, on peer-to-peer texting from Wilkerson Public Affairs, which is Tupola's policy director Braedon Wilkerson's consulting firm. Wilkerson's firm is also helping Rothman and Republican gubernatorial candidate BJ Penn.

The other two District 8 candidates Dion Mesta and Charmaine Doran last month spent $23,944 and $2,067, respectively.

In the District 2 race, which covers the North Shore, Rothman is the front-runner for fundraising and spending.

He reported spending $25,048 last month on entertainment for rallies and professional services, for a total of $98,126 in the entire election period. In the past seven months, he spent $20,000 on professional services from Hawaii Leadership Solutions and $12,440 on professional services at Wilkerson Public Affairs.

Rothman also raised $17,061 in July for a total of $117,877.

But Weyer stepped up his game in July, spending $42,848 and raising $26,112 for election totals of $78,409  and $87,277 so far. Weyer's campaign spent most of the money last month on printing and mailing literature as well as newspaper ads.

Chad Tsuneyoshi, outgoing Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s ex-husband, reported raising $36,900 last month, totaling $60,010 for the election. He spent $6,656 on radio ads, mailers, a fundraiser and banner supplies.

Laie Community Association member Lupe Funaki reported raising $1,543 and spending $60 last month.

Farmer and North Shore Neighborhood Board Vice-Chair Racquel Achiu reported raising $4,374 and spending $5,648 last month.

 

Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, the former chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, has outraised and outspent his opponents in a bid to represent District 6, which covers portions of Kakaako, Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Papakalea, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Iwilei, Liliha, Alewa Heights, Kalihi and Kalihi Valley.

Dos Santos-Tam reported spending $41,613 in July, totaling $119,501 for the election period.

His biggest expenses last month were $14,739 on social media ads and $22,228 for postage and printings for mailers. He also spent $1,051 on jar openers as a promotional item.

"The kupuna love them and we're hoping there will be more to give out," Dos Santos-Tam said.

Dos Santos-Tam raised $15,309 last month for a total of $160,847 or the election period.

Trailing behind Dos Santos-Tam is local musician Nalani Jekins, who reported spending $32,262 in July, totaling $101,081 this election period. Her largest expense last month was $2,000 on digital ad campaigns. She also spent $205 for Uber rides.

Last month, she raised $4,805, totaling $110,619 for the election period.

Ikaika Hussey, former labor organizer for Unite Here Local 5, a union representing hospitality workers and nurses, spent $23,998 last month, mainly on campaign mailers, printing and postage, for an election total of $35,719. Hussey raised $8,054 last month, totaling $31,994.

Former Miss Hawaii Traci Toguchi raised $14,288 and spent $19,676 last month; and former congressional staffer Chad Wolke raised $8,200 and spent $17,626 this year. Chance Naauao-Ota, secretary of the Liliha/Puunui/Alewa/Kamehameha Heights Neighborhood Board, raised $3,674 but still hasn't spent any money on his campaign this election period.

City Council Chair Tommy Waters is also running for reelection in the District 4 race, which stretches from Waikiki to Hawaii Kai, but he and his challenger Kaleo Nakoa go directly to the Nov. 8 general election so don't need to file financial reports until October.

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