Maui County Councilmember Kelly King, who finished third in the Primary race for mayor, announced her endorsement on Tuesday of retired Judge Richard Bissen. The announcement comes as election ballots head to the homes of registered voters this week.
In the primary, King garnered 6,350 votes for 16.1% of the vote, while Bissen led in the final printout with 13,498 votes or 34%. Incumbent Mayor Michael Victorino finished in a close second with 11,794 votes, or 29.7% of votes cast in August. There were more than 7,000 people who voted for other candidates in the crowded primary, which featured a total of eight contenders.
In Tuesday’s announcement, King said she wrestled with the results, and whether or not to even make a public endorsement, noting that she ran because of a need for more transparency, collaboration and efficiency in county government.
In announcing her backing of Bissen, King said, “I was surprised at how many issues we agreed on, including the folly of fighting the Lahaina Injection Well lawsuit rather than putting that $4 million into clean water solutions, the need for more qualified, non-political director appointments, and the importance of reassigning executive administrative positions to create better efficiency in government and truly serve the public, especially when it comes to permitting and grant awards.”
Both noted that the endorsement was unsolicited, and in taking the stance, King did not seek a position for herself or anyone else.
Bissen said that both he and King agree that natural resources and the environment need better care. “We do not want to pave over Maui, we do however, want to build housing for Kamaʻāina in places that most people agree are good areas to have housing,” he said.
When asked if the endorsement provides a comfortable cushion heading into the November General Election, Bissen said, “I don’t think we’re looking at any of these endorsements or support as ways to get comfortable leads. It was more to show and demonstrate that we are inclusive and that we value everyone’s opinion and everyone’s support. That’s more what we are seeking–is for the community to understand that we can come together. You know, we’ve been so divisive over these last few years, and there’s no need for that… It’s about having everybody’s voice at the table.”
Both Bissen and Victorino have garnered endorsements from various groups, unions, and supporters.
Bissen’s endorsements this year include: The Carpenters Union Local 745; Maui Chamber of Commerce (COMPAC); Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association (HGEA) and their approximately 43,000 members Iron Workers Union Local 625; and Retired 2nd Circuit Court Judges of Maui County, Honorable Judge Eric Romanchak, Honorable Judge Harriet Holt, Honorable Judge Artemio Baxa, Honorable Judge Geronimo Valdriz, Honorable Judge Doug McNish, Honorable Judge Joe Cardoza, Honorable Judge Shackley Raffetto, & Honorable Judge Richard Komo.
Victorino’s endorsements include: the HSTA; ILWU; UPW; AFL-CIO; LiUNA Local 368; International Union of Operating Engineers; IUPAT District Council 50; Hawaiʻi Firefighters Association; Hawaiʻi Hotel & Lodging Association and the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association; Maui Chamber of Commerce; and support of the Realtors Association of Maui.