Deputy Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen narrowly averted a runoff in the race for Hawaii County prosecutor after the second printout of primary election results was released Saturday night.
After eliminating blank votes and spoiled ballots from the equation, Waltjen had 25,907 votes, 51.5% of valid votes cast, making him the winner in the three-way primary and avoiding a showdown with runner-up Jared “Kamaka” Auna.
Auna, a defense attorney and former deputy prosecutor, had 14,297 votes or 28.4% of the tally. Christopher Bridges, also a defense attorney and former deputy prosecutor, garnered 10,031 votes, 20% of the total.
The 33-year-old Waltjen, a graduate of St. Joseph High School, University of Hawaii at Hilo and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Richardson School of Law, said he’s “very thankful and blessed to have the support so many people.”
Waltjen, who raised and spent far more money in his campaign than his opponents, will replace his boss, Prosecutor Mitch Roth. Roth is facing political newcomer Ikaika Marzo in November in a runoff race to become Hawaii County mayor. Incumbent Mayor Harry Kim took third place in the primary, out of the running after 12 years overall in two stints as the county’s chief executive.
“I feel we have very strong support of the community here and I’m very pleased with the result,” Waltjen said. “I’m looking forward to … being the elected prosecutor, so we can work hard for the community and make the community a safer place.”
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