Villegas victorious in Kona council contest


In the one contested Hawaii County Council race, Kona District 7, Rebecca Villegas cruised to victory over Kelly Drysdale.

With all precincts reporting and absentee and walk-in votes counted, Villegas has 56.6 percent of the vote with 2,920 votes, while Drysdale has 2,242 votes, 43.5 percent of the valid votes cast.


The seat is being vacated by Councilman Dru Kanuha, a Democrat who will assume the State Senate District 3 seat with a landslide win over Libertarian Michael Last. State Sen. Josh Green was elected lieutenant governor Tuesday night.

The district includes part of Kealakekua, Kona Scenic Subdivision, Kainaliu, Honalo, Keauhou, Kahaluu, Holualoa, Kona Hillcrest, Pualani Estates, Sunset View, Kuakini Heights, Kona Vistas Alii Heights, Kona Industrial and Lono Kona.

Villegas, 45, and Drysdale, 59, both of Kailua-Kona, advanced to the general after the Aug. 12 primary election. Villegas edged out Drysdale in the vote tally, but in a four-way runoff for the open seat, nobody garnered the 50 percent plus one vote required for the runoff.

Villegas has an event marketing firm after 14 years as Hawaii marketing manager for Kona Brewing Co.

Drysdale, daughter of the late Don Drysdale, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is director of logistics of Kona Coffee & Tea Co.

Both are political neophytes.

Villegas raised more than five times the money taken in by Drysdale between the primary and Oct. 22, according to reports filed with the state’s Campaign Spending Commission.

All other council races were decided during the August primary election.

Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter easily retained her District 1 seat in the primaries, defeating Abolghassem Sadegh. Poindexter had 3,470 votes, or 84.6 percent. Sadegh garnered 630 votes, or 15.4 percent.

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung fended off challenger William Halversen by a wide margin. Chung received 4,876 votes or 88.4 percent, while Halversen tallied 641 votes, or 11.6 percent.

Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara lost a contentious battle in District 4 to political newcomer Ashley Kierkiewicz. Councilwoman-elect Kierkiewicz got 2,545 votes or 60.3 percent, while the incumbent O’Hara had 1,674 votes, or 39.7 percent.

Another political newcomer will assume the District 5 seat in Puna, as well. Businessman Matt Kanealii-Klinefelder received 2,233 votes in the primary, or almost 70 percent of the valid votes cast, while Frederic “Ric” Wyrick got just over 30 percent, with 959 votes. Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, who withdrew from the race too late for her name to be removed from the ballot, tallied 443 votes, which weren’t considered valid.

Ka‘u/South Kona Councilwoman Maile Medeiros David secured re-election handily in a three-way District 6 primary race. Her 3,068 vote total represented just under 77 percent. Challengers Yumi Kawano and Richard Abbett received 499 and 422 votes, respectively, or 12.5 percent for Kawano and 10.6 percent for Abbett.

Kohala Councilman Tim Richards turned back a primary challenge from Maya Parish in District 9. Richards received 2,845 votes, or 53.8 percent, while Parish’s total was 2,267 votes, or 46.2 percent.


Hilo Councilwoman Sue Loy and Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff were unopposed in Districts 3 and 8, respectively.

Email John Burnett at

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