Rick Blangiardi and Augie T Win in Hawai’i General Election

Emma Lee, Digital Editor

     The results of the Hawai’i local elections were released on Nov. 5, 2020, Wednesday morning, after hours of delay due to long lines at polling centers. Rick Blangiardi won the Honolulu mayoral race against Keith Amemiya, and the council race for District 9 was won by comedian Augusto “Augie T” Tulba against former lawmaker Will Espero.

     “I’m really shocked that Augie Tulba won—not that I didn’t want him to. I was just surprised people voted for him because, for me, I’ve always known him to be an entertainer and comedian,” said Mililani High School Senior Nina Quingua, who attended Augie T.’s final public comedy show in March 2019. 

     Since then, Tulba retired from comedy and began pursuing the city council in Honolulu. His reputation as an entertainer, still fresh in the minds of Hawai’i residents, gave way to his new role as a politician when he won about 49 percent of the vote against Espero’s 45.6 percent. Among those who voted for him was MHS Physics teacher Steve Stinefelt, who occasionally did promotions with Tulba when they worked at the same radio station group around twenty-five years ago, with Stinefelt at the news station KHVH and Tulba at the music station KUBT (known as “I-94” until 2003). “He’s a really very intelligent guy. I have a feeling he’s gonna listen to people around him, and I know for a fact that he doesn’t need the job. He’s already full-time employed and, you know, he’s doing fine for himself,” said Stinefelt.

     Former TV executive Blangiardi was also a first-time candidate, along with Amemiya. Blangiardi’s landslide win held 58.2 percent of the vote with Keith Amemiya at 39 percent. “You know, I think both candidates are new to politics, so I think they both presented sort of fresh views. And I think that’s what people were looking for,” said MHS Japanese teacher Corey Zukeran.

     Stinefelt voted for Blangiardi. His decision was largely determined by a campaign advertisement on television from Amemiya. “He (Amemiya) was sort of likening Mr. Blangiardi to our President Donald Trump, and I know that Rick Blangiardi doesn’t agree with a lot of Trump’s things that he’s doing. And I didn’t think that really exhibited a whole bunch of class,” said Stinefelt.

     In addition to mail-in votes, many Hawai’i residents waited for hours in long lines far past the 7 p.m. cutoff to get a turn at the polls. The local races as well as the presidential election have brought a record-high for voter turnout in Hawai’i at nearly 70%—the highest since 1988. “We all have this right as Americans to vote, and I think we should all, you know, take advantage of that opportunity to voice our concerns and vote for the people who we think will serve us best,” said Zukeran.

     The newly elect Honolulu mayor will be sworn in on Jan. 2, 2020, and Tulba will officially join the Honolulu City Council.