Bernard Akana spent only $1,323 on his campaign for mayor of Hawaii County in Hilo, Hawaii, to his incumbent opponent's $100,000, made no speeches and was so obscure some media organizations couldn't get his name right. He won, of course. His campaign secret: sitting in a Hilo shopping mall and chatting with voters.
Akana, a 69-year-old Republican, had no endorsements, no campaign workers and nine back-to-back defeats in county and state elections between 1968 and 1984. His only campaign adviser was his wife, Ina, who ran for office herself in 1986.On Tuesday, the retired electric company worker edged incumbent Democrat Dante Carpenter by 19,886 votes to 19,088.
Carpenter had been criticized for what some voters considered an arrogant style, as well as for his support of island development and because he paid his wife $15,500 to administer a campaign survey. The poll was scrapped and the money returned after the payment was disclosed.
Akana said he wants "honest-to-God affordable housing, the 911 (emergency telephone) system, a Kona municipal golf course, transportation, traffic safety, drug control, equal opportunity for the handicapped and a bayfront beach park."
Not bad for a candidate who just a few days ago was so obscure a Honolulu newspaper called him Benjamin Akana, a television reporter on election night referred to him as Akuna and a Hilo radio announcer Wednesday kept calling him Akaka.