Guz­man launches bid for mayor

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By BRIAN PERRY City Editor

WAILUKU — Maui County Coun­cil Mem­ber Don Guz­man an­nounced his can­di­dacy for mayor Thurs­day evening, pack­ing in an en­thu­si­as­tic crowd of more than 700 sup­port­ers at the Velma McWayne San­tos Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in Wailuku.

“It’s a re­ally big step,” Guz­man said of run­ning for mayor, while tak­ing a break from shak­ing hands and hug­ging sup­port­ers.

In­spired by tur­moil be­tween County Coun­cil mem­bers and the Mayor’s Of­fice, he said he would strive as mayor to im­prove the work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the county’s ex­ec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive branches.

“What would that be like?” he asked. “I can serve as a bridge.”

And, he said, he wants to re­store the pub­lic’s trust in the Mayor’s Of­fice.

“I feel that I can be that bridge, and we can work to­gether,” he said. “It all starts with build­ing trust with the Mayor’s Of­fice. There’s a lack of trust there.”

In a pre­pared state­ment, he said: “Gov­ern­ment needs to re­store trust and serv­ing as mayor should be ab­sent of ar­ro­gance . . . It is the mayor’s duty to con­sider all sides, con­sult with knowl­edge­able peo­ple and build coali­tions to achieve goals.”

“I’m about mak­ing sure things are fair,” Guz­man said, main­tain­ing that he’s an ad­vo­cate for “trans­par­ent and ef­fi­cient gov­ern­ment.”

Guz­man said he thinks he’ll be the best can­di­date for mayor be­cause he has a deep un­der­stand­ing of how the county ad­min­is­tra­tion op­er­ates.

“I’m able to con­nect the dots bet­ter, and I have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of con­cepts,” he said.

In his writ­ten state­ment, he said that his lead­er­ship could bring the “right bal­ance” for the com­mu­nity in ad­dress­ing the county’s af­ford­able hous­ing cri­sis and its in­fra­struc­ture needs while pre­serv­ing its nat­u­ral re­sources and cul­tural her­itage.

“Pri­or­i­tiz­ing the com­mu­nity plans with valu­able pub­lic in­put and de­lib­er­a­tion is a must,” he said.

Mayor Alan Arakawa will com­plete his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive term as mayor next year and is in­el­i­gi­ble to seek a third con­sec­u­tive term. (He also served as mayor from 2002 to

2006.) Arakawa’s de­par­ture leaves the mayor’s seat open in the 2018 elec­tion, draw­ing in­ter­est from can­di­dates such as Guz­man, Maui County Coun­cil Mem­ber Elle Cochran and for­mer Coun­cil Mem­ber Mike Vic­torino.

In April, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsut­sui said that he was weigh­ing a cam­paign for the Maui County Mayor’s Of­fice, but he could not be reached for com­ment Thurs­day.

Cochran at­tended Guz­man’s birth­day fundrais­ing event Thurs­d­say, say­ing she has a friendly ri­valry with him.

“We need to all sup­port each other,” she said.

But she con­firmed that she’s run­ning for mayor and launched her cam­paign web­site Thurs­day.

Cochran and Guz­man hold the coun­cil’s West Maui and Kahu­lui res­i­dency seats, re­spec­tively. And, in the 2016 gen­eral elec­tion, they ran as mem­bers of the re­form-minded ‘Ohana Coali­tion and re­ceived 60.4 per­cent and 58.1 per­cent of the vote in their races. Other coun­cil can­di­dates won with voter ap­proval of 43 to nearly 49 per­cent.

Cochran said she’s heard pun­dits pre­dict that ei­ther she or Guz­man would face Tsut­sui in the mayor’s race, if Tsut­sui re­signs as lieu­tenant gov­er­nor to run.

Cochran said she’s con­cerned that she and Guz­man would split the vote the same base of vot­ers whose top is­sues in­clude the en­vi­ron­ment and Na­tive Hawai­ian is­sues. She said she’s also been a strong ad­vo­cate of re­cy­cling and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Guz­man said he thinks he has a broader base of voter sup­port. He said he’s been backed by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, de­vel­op­ers and la­bor unions.

He said he’s an­a­lyt­i­cal, does his home­work and finds a mid­dle ground.

That way, “we can start to de­velop col­lab­o­ra­tions,” he said. “We can start work­ing to­gether.”

Vic­torino also at­tended Guz­man’s fundraiser. In the past, he has made it no se­cret that he has in­tended to run for mayor.

But, “right now I’m leav­ing all my op­tions open,” he said. Those in­clude seek­ing the Cen­tral Maui 8th House District seat held by Demo­cratic Rep. Joe Souki, who was un­seated as speaker at the end of this year’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion. Vic­torino said he’d only con­sider run­ning for Souki’s seat if the long­time law­maker were to re­tire.

Or, he said he might run for his for­mer Wailuku-Wai­hee-Waikapu coun­cil seat, won last year by Coun­cil Mem­ber Alika Atay, another ‘Ohana Coali­tion-backed can­di­date.

Vic­torino said he would likely not com­mit to run­ning for an of­fice un­til mid-Fe­bru­ary.

Can­di­dates may be­gin pulling nom­i­na­tion pa­pers Feb. 1. The dead­line to de­clare as a can­di­date is June 5.

The pri­mary elec­tion is set for Aug. 11, and the gen­eral elec­tion will be held Nov. 6, 2018.

Hawaii Cam­paign Spend­ing Com­mis­sion records sub­mit­ted in July show Guz­man had a cam­paign war chest of $20,682 while Vic­torino had $4,929 and Cochran had a deficit of $58,995. Tsut­sui re­ported a sur­plus of $237,466.

Fre­quent Maui News let­ter writer Ori Kopel­man has said that he plans to run for mayor again in 2018 in pur­suit of his dream of “Mauitopia.” In Septem­ber 2014, he re­ported a cam­paign fund bal­ance of zero. There have been no re­cent fil­ings by Kopel­man.

Brian Perry can be reached at

The Maui News / BRIAN PERRY photo

Maui County Coun­cil Mem­ber Don Guz­man greets Wailuku res­i­dent Nathaniel Layaoen on Thurs­day evening at the Velma McWayne San­tos Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in Wailuku. Guz­man an­nounced his can­di­dacy for mayor dur­ing the fundraiser cel­e­brat­ing his 48th birth­day....

The Maui News / BRIAN PERRY photo

Maui County Coun­cil Mem­ber Don Guz­man awaits a bless­ing dur­ing his cam­paign fundraiser Thurs­day evening, stand­ing with son An­drew (from left), 10; wife Dr. Rose Guz­man and son Nealon, 11. Not pic­tured is daugh­ter Reese, 16.

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