Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami and Michael Poai are headed for a November runoff in the mayor’s race this election.

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Kawakami was the top vote-getter in the primary with 73% of the vote in the battle for the county’s top executive seat, while Poai grabbed 11% of the vote. Mitch McPeek had 4% and Megeso-William Denis earned 4%, according to results from the state Office of Elections.

Only the top two candidates advance to the general election.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami told dozens of his supporters gathered at the Lihue Neighborhood Center on Saturday that his reelection campaign represents change, hard work and integrity. Brittany Lyte/Civil Beat/2022

Kawakami said he does not view his commanding lead as a victory, but as a litmus test of the effectiveness of his reelection campaign in rallying voters behind a platform of hard work, integrity and change.

“We’ve been able to do a lot but there’s so much more to do and that’s why I’m asking for four more years,” he told dozens of supporters gathered at the Lihue Neighborhood Center Saturday night.

Longtime county parks employee Michael Roven Poai, 47, of Kapaa is running for mayor on a campaign to improve the island’s neglected infrastructure. 

Kawakami has presented his track record of pandemic leadership as proof that he could guide the county through any type of disaster, while Poai, a political newcomer employed by the county Parks and Recreation Department, campaigned on a commitment to make unsexy but valuable improvements to sorely neglected infrastructure, such as roads and sewers.

“I’m going to work harder in the general election,” Poai said. “Kauai’s a very small place and I know a lot of key people in the community and I believe I have a chance.”

Voters on Kauai also sorted through more than two dozen county council candidates.

Four incumbents are headed to the general election, as voters narrowed down a crowded field of candidates to 14 for the seven-seat county council.

Luke Evslin was the top vote-getter with 7.4% of the vote. He was trailed by just a few dozen votes by Bernard Carvalho who had 7.3% of the vote, Mel Rapozo, who had 6.6%, KipuKai Kuali‘i with 6.5%, Ross Kagawa with 6%, Addison Bulosan with 5.8% and Felicia Cowden with 5.5%.

Those candidates advancing to the November general election, according to the results, also include: Billy DeCosta, Fern Anuenue Holland, Lila Balmores Metzger, Shirley Simbre-Medeiros, Rachel Secretario, Nelson Mukai and Roy Saito.

All told, 19 candidates ran to fill seven seats, two of which are open due to term limits. Kauai is the only county council in the state without districts.

The 2022 general election will take place on Nov. 8.

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