Council candidates top off war chests as Election Day nears
First-term incumbent County Councilman Greggor Ilagan, facing three challengers for Puna District 4, has raked in the most campaign contributions of any of the 27 hopefuls running for nine seats.
Council members are paid $52,008 annually.
Ilagan has raised $30,270 as of July 25, according to the most recent filings with the state Campaign Spending Commission that were due this week.
Ilagan’s only contribution at the $2,000 campaign cycle limit was from Hawaii Laborers and Employers Trust Fund. The bulk of his campaign money is coming from political action committees and labor unions, according to his reports. He took in $2,377 from individuals donating $100 or less.
So far, Ilagan has reported spending $24,035 mainly for signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, handouts and campaign events rather than traditional advertising.
Ilagan said in an interview Friday that the money doesn’t influence how he votes.
“I look at an issue, I look at both sides of an issue,” he said. “I listen to people who give me money. But I also listen to people who don’t give me money.”
Basically, Ilagan said, he votes according to his “core values.” An example, he said, was in 2013 when he voted against raising property taxes.
“I voted against it knowing I might not get my projects through the administration because the mayor might be mad at me,” he said. “I look at each issue on its merits.”
Coming in second in campaign fundraising was Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi, who is unopposed for his fourth term on the council. Despite that fact, Onishi has raised $25,234, with $2,839 coming from individuals donating $100 or less.
He’s spent $27,570, primarily for advertising and fundraisers. He’s also spent money for a golf tour, canoe race and the Haari Boat Festival, according to his spending reports.
His sole $2,000 contribution was from the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund, a PAC affiliated with Pacific Resource Partnership.
Third in the money-making is Aaron Chung, collecting $22,120, with $7,270 coming from individuals giving $100 or less. Chung, running against four others for the open District 2 seat being vacated by Hilo Councilman J Yoshimoto, is financed primarily from Hilo contributors giving $500 or less. His only $2,000 contribution came from Puna Rock Co. Ltd.
In that same district, Margarita “Dayday” Hopkins was sixth in contributions with $16,227, of which $3,901 came from individuals giving $100 or less. Hopkins, who worked in the county Department of Research and Development for 24 years, addressing primarily agricultural issues, has strong backing from farmers and produce companies. Her sole $2,000 contribution comes from Hawaii Fresh Produce.
Ronald Gonzales, former chairman of the Windward Planning Commission, came in fourth by raising $17,328, of which $2,379 came from individuals donating $100 or less. He’s also had a lot of help from Forward Progress, a super PAC that spends money independently of candidates.
Gonzales is challenging Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille for the District 9 seat. Wille raised $7,935, all from individuals.
A candidate for an open Puna District 5 seat, Daniel Paleka Jr., is a come-from-behind top fundraiser in that district, coming in fifth among all council candidates. Paleka raised $17,313, with only $509 coming from individuals donating $100 or less.
Paleka reported, but did not itemize, $2,699 coming from a July 17 fundraiser. His sole $2,000 contribution came from Hawaii Laborers & Employers Trust Fund.
The only other candidate reporting raising more than $10,000 is first-term incumbent Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, who faces unfunded challenger Larry Gering for District 1. Poindexter raised $12,769, with just $575 coming from individuals donating $100 or less.
The bulk of Poindexter’s contributions come from trade and public sector labor unions.
Iolani Islander LLC, a Waimea-area rodeo arena company affiliated with Kona developer Brian A. Anderson, was the sole contributor of a $2,000 donation. Poindexter said Friday that the company was “excited” about improvements made to the Honokaa rodeo arena and her work securing funding for community gathering places in the rural Hamakua district.