Ron Gonzales, who faces off against District 9 incumbent County Councilwoman Margaret Wille in the Nov. 4 General Election, is the subject of two complaints filed with the county clerk this week.
The complaints question whether Gonzales plans to move permanently to Waikoloa, or is just using the Waikoloa address as a convenience so he could run in District 9 instead of facing off against District 1 incumbent Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter.
“I spent the better part of my entire life in District 9,” Gonzales told West Hawaii Today earlier this month when questioned why he didn’t run in District 1. “I believe that District 9 is the district that could use the change.”
Wille secured 1,664 votes, or 48.3 percent, against Gonzales and another challenger, Oliver “Sonny” Shimaoka, with all precincts reporting Saturday. She needed more than 50 percent to avoid the runoff. Gonzales won 968 votes, or 28.1 percent, and Shimaoka gained 812 votes, or 23.6 percent.
Poindexter easily won her second term Saturday, winning 3,091 votes, or 79.7 percent, over challenger Larry Gering’s 785 votes.
One complaint, filed Thursday by Waimea resident Matt Binder and Hawi resident Alex Achmat, challenges Gonzales’ candidacy based on his residency. At issue are Gonzales’ statements that he changed his residency to a Waikoloa address where he has been renting a room since he and his family moved to Honokaa so his children could attend Honokaa High School, his alma mater.
Gonzales resigned from the Windward Planning Commission, which required a North Hilo/Hamakua residence, on May 1, although he had apparently changed his voter registration to his Waikoloa address April 1, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.
Corporation Counsel Molly Stebbins said Thursday that County Clerk Stewart Maeda was busy putting the final touches on today’s planned election for two Puna precincts that were closed on Election Day. Her review of the Binder and Achmat complaint, however, indicates the complaint is past the June 10 deadline — 60 days prior to the primary election — for challenging a candidate.
“The deadline does not get reset now that we’re past the primary and into the general,” Stebbins said.
The other complaint, filed Tuesday by Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland, challenges Gonzales’ right to be a registered voter in the district. That complaint, based on state law, can be filed at any time.
“HRS Sec. 11-13 says that in order to become your new legal residence, it must not only be your current intention to live there permanently but you must also currently intend to abandon your old address permanently,” Hyland said in his complaint. “What kind of a move would be ‘permanent,’ as the law requires for his new registration to be legal, when he has kept his old mailing address as his permanent mailing address and has left his wife and two children behind at his old legal residence address?”
Gonzales said he hasn’t seen the complaints.
“At this point, I had no idea any complaints had been filed,” Gonzales said Thursday afternoon. “I cannot respond or comment until I have read them.”