Proof that every vote counts: 22 votes won councilman re-election to east Honolulu seat

Proof that every vote counts: 22 votes won councilman re-election to east Honolulu seat

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Hawaii went to sleep on Tuesday night, east Honolulu was poised to have a new city councilman. But everyone woke up to a surprise winner.

Councilman Trevor Ozawa won by a very narrow margin over his challenger Tommy Waters.

After early results, Ozawa was nearly neck-and-neck with Waters, a former state representative. As the night progressed, he built on that lead, but it remained too close to call.

But by the final printout around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ozawa regained the lead — by just 22 votes.

The square-off is a little bit of déjà vu: In 2014, Ozawa defeated Waters by just 41 votes.

If Waters had won, the outcome of the race could have shifted the balance of power on the council. That’s because Ozawa is a vocal critic of Mayor Kirk Caldwell, while Waters supports the administration.

On Wednesday morning, Ozawa was waving to drivers, waking up a winner.

“It was definitely close. We knew like last time, if it’s meant to be,” Ozawa said.

On the council, Ozawa is in the majority in his opposition to the mayor.

After his re-election, the council’s makeup is expected to remain the same — Caldwell’s council friends in the minority.

“It’s either his way or the highway. Political pressure on people,” Ozawa said, about the mayor.

Caldwell supported Waters in the election.

On Tuesday night, while Waters was ahead, the mayor said it’s been hard to move things through the council with so much opposition. “It’s just a lot more pilikia,” he said.

Councilman Brandon Elefante, who also won re-election, downplayed the differences between council members and says the council needs to work together on moving contentious issues like rail forward.

“I’m willing to work whether it was Tommy who won or Trevor. I’m willing to work with both,” he said.

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