Storm-tossed Puna Voters Get to Vote for Controversial State Rep. Faye Hanohano

Two polling places closed by Tropical Storm Iselle get chance to makeup election. Will they vote for the outspoken Hanohano?

While the political eyes statewide on Puna today are mostly waiting for results of the U.S. Senate race between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, the ballots cast today will also determine whether or not controversial Puna state Rep. Faye Hanohano is ousted from her seat.

Hanohano, who was first elected in 2006, has been involved in several highly publicized incidents. The best-known was the use of several racial slurs in her complaint about a lack of Native Hawaiian art in her office in 2013, accompanied by a threat to cut funding for state art. This year, she berated a testifier who wanted to protect sharks and rays, which Hanohano claimed were her food sources. For this intimidating and abusive behavior, she was given a letter of reprimand by state House Speaker Joe Souki.

The controversy plaguing the incumbent prompted five other Democrats to challenge the seemingly vulnerable Hanohano in the primary election for House District 4. By the end of Saturday’s primary election, attorney Joy San Buenaventura had more than twice the votes of Hanohano—558 to 260—but it’s not over yet.

Two precincts ravaged by Tropical Storm Iselle on Friday left the independent rural district without power, digging out of damaged homes and roads blocked by fallen trees. The storm danger prompted the state Office of Elections to call for an unprecedented delay in voting for two precincts in Hanohano’s district, which encompasses Hawaiian Acres, Pahoa and Kapalama Those two precincts already know that Hanohano is trailing San Buenaventura. However, with some 6,800 votes at stake in today’s election, it’s still anyone’s game.

Results are expected to be available this evening. Early news reports showed people standing in line to vote.