UPDATE: Mayoral candidate Bissen gains ground, will face Victorino in general election
August 13, 2022, 9:09 PM HST
* Updated August 14, 11:01 AM
10 A.M. SUNDAY UPDATE:
Retired Circuit Court Judge Richard Bissen in the third printout gained more ground in his lead over incumbent Mayor Michael Victorino. The two secured their mayoral candidate spots in the general election this November.
Bissen edged up to 13,407 votes, or 34 %, over Victorino, who had 11,747 votes, or 29.8%, by the final report.
Maui County Council Member Kelly Takaya King had 6,350 votes, or 16%; Kim Brown, small business owner, had 2,851 votes, or 7.2%; Council Member Mike Molina had 2,068 votes, or 5.2%; Cullan Bell, small business owner, had 1,769 votes, or 4.5%; Alana Kay, author/publisher, had 244 votes, or 0.6%; and Jonah Lion, eco-tour guide, had 98 votes, or 0.2%.
In one of the most stacked mayoral races in recent history, early results showed retired Circuit Court Judge Richard Bissen with a minimal lead over incumbent Mayor Michael Victorino in Hawaii’s Aug. 13 Primary Election, signaling that the two may square off in the general election this fall.
Bissen had 13,407 votes, or 34.0%, while Victorino secured 11,747 votes, or 29.8%, according to the third printout, which was released at around 9:09 a.m. on Sunday.
Council Member Kelly King, who is leaving her South Maui residency seat for a mayoral bid, had 6,350 votes, or 16.1% after the third printout.
The candidate threw her hat in the ring at the last minute and is favored among progressives. She is known for her environmental work during her time on the council.
“It was a little sad to see the first results,” King said via phone from her watch party in Kahului Saturday evening. “It was really so positive. People really wanted a choice. I don’t think there’s that big of a difference between Bissen and Victorino.”
King said her campaign team will still hold out for the final results as in-person votes are counted.
When asked about his early lead, Bissen from his watch party in Central Maui praised his supporters and volunteers.
“They’re putting in all the work,” he said.
The retired judge is a political newcomer with a decorated resume in the judicial branch.
Although the results are not finalized, Bissen said that he will continue to strive for excellence if he is placed on the general election ballot.
When asked if he was surprised to learn about his potential competitor, Bissen said he doesn’t perceive other candidates that way.
“I don’t see myself as running against anybody,” he said. “They’re all good people. I know I’m running for something — I’m running for my three grandsons.”
Bissen said he knows who he is and where he is from. He will continue to serve Maui County regardless of the mayoral race outcomes.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “This is the place I love with the people I love.”
Mayor Michael Victorino, who was in transit on his way to Akakū: Maui Community Media, said that he was “happy, of course” to be in the position he’s in, as opposed to being “somewhere else.”
Top of mind for the incumbent is gratitude, he said. He thanked everyone who is working on his campaign, along with the voters and the community at large.
“There were a few difficult months,” he said. “They stuck by me and my campaign. This reinforces in my mind that people believe in what we are doing.”
Victorino endured one of the more difficult freshman terms due to the global pandemic, wildfires, droughts, economic hardships and other issues.
Months after Victorino took office in 2019, several wildfires swept through the county’s central plains and other areas, evacuating homes, shutting down roadways and impacting air quality.
In early 2020 and toward the end of this year, the county dealt with devastating flooding events that damaged homes, roadways and other infrastructure.
At the start of 2020, the county and the state faced the first wave of the global pandemic, which spurred mandatory shutdowns of nonessential businesses in March and a significant halt to tourism, the state’s leading industry.
Victorino said the challenging term offered great lessons.
“It showed we cannot do this without each other,” he said. “I’m proud of this community. . . And I really want to now take this next step toward economic diversification.”
This year’s mayoral race is one of the most stacked in recent history. Besides Bissen, Victorino and King, other candidates include Cullan Bell, small business owner, Kim Brown, small business owner, Alana Kay, author/publisher, Jonah Lion, eco-cultural tour guide, and Mike Molina, Maui County Council member.
Primary Elections will determine the top two vote-getters to be placed on the General Election ballot. Results of the General Election will be determined Nov. 8.