There’s a good chance three former or current council members will be running for the Puna District 4 County Council seat, following the addition this week of former Councilwoman Emily Naeole.
Naeole, who pulled papers Tuesday, said Friday that she is in the process of collecting signatures and is definitely planning to run. Current Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan has pulled papers and said he is running as well. And former Councilman Fred Blas has pulled papers for the seat in addition to the district’s state House seat but said there’s a “90 percent chance” he’s running for council.
In addition, two challengers who have not held the seat, Madeline Greene and Roy Lozano, have already filed. A sixth candidate, Alona Quartero, has pulled papers but not yet filed, according to the most recent filing report at the county Division of Elections.
“My thing is good luck to everybody. Hopefully we won’t have to fight and have evilness against each other,” Naeole said. “We’ve got to let the people decide.”
Naeole, who held the seat two terms, was unseated in 2010 by Blas, who in turn lost his seat in 2012 to Ilagan.
Colorful both in dress and spirit, Naeole was a distinctive council member who invoked strong reactions in both supporters and opponents. Former Ka‘u Councilman Bob Jacobson once accused Naeole of first-degree terroristic threatening, triggering a police investigation that failed to produce sufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges.
Naeole found herself called before the county Board of Ethics several times during her tenure, with all but one of the complaints about her dismissed. She did receive a rebuke from the board for throwing a pen across the room in frustration during a council meeting.
Blas found himself before the Ethics Board once as well, based on a complaint from constituents that he lied about being at a late-opening poll during the problematic 2012 primary election. That complaint was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction after he lost his re-election bid.
Both Naeole and Blas say Puna residents are asking them to run. Naeole said she’s been talking to people in the district, and “They realize, ‘Wow, Auntie, you’ve done a lot for us.’”
“We haven’t gotten much for a long time,” Naeole said. “Puna’s got a lot of hardship. I know about it because I’ve been here all my life.”
Blas said Friday he’s pretty sure he’s going to jump into the council race.
“I’ve done more in two years in that district than anybody,” Blas said. “I hate to be negative. … I’ve done a lot. I get things done. I don’t talk about it, I just do it.”
Ilagan couldn’t be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Greene, who chairs a Puna neighborhood group, began campaigning in November, saying not enough was being done to help the district. She said she welcomes the new interest in the district; she just wonders why it took so long.
“All of a sudden everyone wants to run,” Greene said. “It’s going to be a very interesting race.”