WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Neck-and-neck is an understatement in Maui County's mayoral race.
The final numbers in Saturday's Primary Election shows a tight race. Mayor Charmaine Tavares grabbed 25.4 % of the votes. Coming in second by just 1% is former Mayor Alan Arakawa, with 24.4%. Randy Piltz came in third with 19.4%.
The top two advance to the General Election, which means the Valley Isle will see old rivals battle it out once again.
It's deja vu.
Maui's current and former mayors will continue their tug-of-war in November over the County's top seat.
Arakawa is fighting to win his job back. He lost it to Tavares in 2006.
Now, both are statistically on even ground, with Arakawa trailing behind Tavares by just 268 votes in the Primary.
"I'm not nervous about this because I believe I can go head to head with Mr. Arakawa on any topic," said Tavares.
Tavares had 10 other candidates, trying to unseat her, making it a crowded race.
"A lot of their followers are not going to be happy with joining her so I'm very hopeful that they'll join our campaign," said Arakawa.
Arakawa says the long list of mayoral contenders is a sign that many are upset with Tavares and her administration.
"We've been raising all the fees, we've been raising all the trash collection fees, water rates, on a public that is suffering," he said.
"The economic downturn has really taken a toll on incumbents as we've seen across the nation. I'm just happy to be here, and I'll work hard in the General Election and hopefully people will put their faith in me again," said Tavares.
A hot button issue between them is over Transient Vacation Rentals (TVR's).
Mayor Tavares has cracked down on illegal ones.
Arakawa says, that's not fair, saying many TVR owners don't have permits due to a massive County backlog in processing them.
Arakawa says Tavares broke her promise of giving them amnesty.
"As soon as she got into office, she took up a different position," he said.
"No, I hadn't. I don't know where that came from. There's no such thing as an amnesty," said Tavares.
"Many people lost their life investments. Many people lost their jobs. Many people are in foreclosure. Now, many people have had their lives devastated," said Arakawa.
"We have laws, and we follow the law. If he was serious about the amnesty, he should've sent down a bill to the council," said Tavares.
It's a debate, among many others, that's only going to get more heated between Maui's two favorites, come November.
First on their to-do list, if elected?
Mayor Tavares says she'd continue her green mission to bring renewable energy.
Arakawa says he'd create more jobs by making Maui more business-friendly.
PRIMARY ELECTION 2010 - Mayor, County of Maui
Alan M. Arakawa- 24.4%
Sally Chow Hammond- 0.5%
Chris Hart- 10.5%
Marc Hodges- 6.1%
Sol P. Kaho'ohalahala- 10.1%
Ori Kopelman- 0.4%
Peter A. Milbourn- 0.2%
Harold Miller- 0.1%
Jonathon A. Olson- 0.3%
Randy Piltz- 19.4%
Charmaine Tavares- 25.4%