By Stephanie Salazar
By the time Sunday night rolls around, the Big Island of Hawaii will know the final three candidates to hoping to complete the State Senate district 2 term. The new senator will replace Russell Kokubun, who resigned his seat last week to head the Department of Agriculture.
85 democratic party officials from the district are eligible to vote to determine the final three names.
And while up to 20 names were mentioned as possible senate candidates, only nine made the midnight Monday deadline for consideration. And by Wednesday, one had dropped out: County Democratic Party chairman Steve Pavao said Hilo county councilman J Yoshimoto pulled out, with no reason given.
Two names surprisingly absent from the list: state lawmaker Bob Herkes and former Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole. Also NOT among the senate hopefuls… farmer Richard Ha and former county deputy prosecutor Bill Smith.
The eight candidates will present their case to party officials on Sunday afternoon at the Puna Hongwanji in Keaau.
The names are:
Gil Kahele, who headed Neil Abercrombie’s East Hawaii campaign. He is a retired employee of the Pohakuloa Training Area and some consider him a strong candidate because of his work on the campaign.
State Representative Faye Hanohano, who narrowly won her party primary last September over young challenger and now fellow candidate, Anthony “Toni” Marzi.
Former Puna council member Gary Safarik, and from Ka’u physician Richard Creagan as well as Abundant Life store manager Susan Marie Sanford. Pavao called them long time active Democrats
Businessman Russell Ruderman runs several Island naturals stores and lives in Paradise Park, as does retired county attorney Jeani Withington a former state party chair.
Pavao says by 5pm the vote will be tallied. Three names will go to Governor Abercrombie, who is expected to make a quick choice.