By Stephanie Salazar
The finalist to fill the vacated District 2 State Senator seat were chosen last night by democratic precinct officials..
The three are: Natural food store operator Russell Ruderman, aspiring politician Anthony “Toni” Marzi, and Abercrombie campaign official Gil Kahele.
Senate District 2 covers Ka’u, Puna and Hilo. It encompasses all of House District 4, Puna, which is Faye Hanohano’s seat… part of District 5 which extends from South Kona to Ka’u and Volcano and is held by Bob Herkes… and part of District 3, Hilo, or Clifton Tsuji’s seat.
There were a few would-be candidates who showed up at the 3pm gathering at the Puna Hongwanji in Keaau. Among them, farmer Richard Ha, who was among those asked to be included in consideration night, even though they missed the Monday midnight deadline. After considering the request to delay the vote to allow more people to apply, the party officials denied the late comers a chance to try for the senate seat.
About 60 party officials from 16 precincts heard each of the nine candidates in a round robin format, then each candidate addressed the whole group. Votes were then cast by precinct, with each ranking their top three choices. And the names that appeared most frequently, were ranked.. with Ruderman first, followed by Marzi and Kahele.
Precinct officials questioned candidates on their understanding of the issues, current pending legislation such as civil unions, the economy and how their views compared with the Governor’s outlook.
The names of the candidates who were not chosen were:
State house representative Faye Hanohano
Former Puna councilman Gary Safarik
Ka’u physician Richard Creagan
Abundant Life store manager Susan Marie Sanford
And retired county attorney Jeani Withington, who is a former state party chair. Withington said she was disappointed, but found the process interesting and she was glad she tried.
The three names chosen last night will be forwarded on to state party head Dante Carpenter, who will then forward to the Governor, who is expected to make a choice soon. The 2011 legislative session begins in ten days, January 19th