HILO, Hawaii – Three Hawaii County Democrats are running for Hilo’s first district state senate seat.
Its a special election. The office was held by Senator Gilbert Kahele until his sudden death vacated the seat earlier this year.
Gil’s son Kaiali’i Kahele was appointed to fill in for the remainder of legislative session, and now Kai is looking to be elected to the seat for what would have been the remainder of his father’s four year term.
We interviewed the young Senator Kahele recently in Panaewa. Kahele already has one legislative session under his belt. Although he did not see his father’s final bills pass, the Hilo district saw a large number of Capital Improvement projects put into the budget.
Kahele’s opponents are well versed in the workings of politics, as well.
Kaloa Robinson has an extensive background in the legislative and administrative arena.
We spoke to Robinson several weeks ago along the Hilo bayfront, where he told us how his experience with hospitals and housing gives him a valuable perspective in the pressing issues of health care and homelessness.
The third Democrat running for the state senate seat is also a familiar name in Hilo.
Dennis “Fresh” Onishi is terming out after eight years on the Hawaii County Council. He was a late entrant into the state senate race, filing his paperwork at the 11th hour.
We spent some time with Onishi at Wailoa State Park to talk about his campaign. Fresh has a history in the county parks and recreation department, and while on the council he always urged strong communication between the local elected officials and state representatives.
Ever the hard campaigner, Senator Kahele has far surpassed his opponents in fundraising. Yet he speaks highly of his fellow Democratic candidates.
Walk in voting began on August 1st, and primary election day is August 13.
The democrat who wins the primary will go on to face Libertarian candidate Kimberly Arianoff in the November general.