Maui News

Democratic Party to Begin Process to Fill Kahele’s Senate District 1 Vacancy

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Kai Kahele. PC: Kai Kahele

Congressman-elect and current State Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele (District 1 – Hilo) officially announced today his resignation from the Hawaiʻi State Senate. Kahele, who was appointed in 2016 to fill the seat of his late father, Senator Gilbert Kahele, was elected on Nov. 3, 2020 to represent Hawaiʻi’s Second Congressional District.

During his tenure in the Hawaiʻi State Senate, Congressman-elect Kahele served as chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education (2016 – 2018) and the Senate Committee on Water and Land (2018 – 2020). He also served as Majority Whip (2017 – 2018), Majority Floor Leader (2018 – 2020), Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs andwas a member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“It has been an honor to represent and serve the people of Hilo in the Hawaiʻi State Senate for the past four years,” said Congressman-elect Kahele. “As a member of Congress, I look forward to continue working with our State leaders to rebuild our economy and create a more resilient Hawaiʻi for future generations.”


Democratic Party officers from nine precincts in Senate District 1 will convene virtually on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. to identify three names that will be transmitted to Governor Ige for consideration. The Governor has sixty days to fill the vacancy.

As Congressman-Elect Kai Kahele has submitted a letter of resignation from the State Senate District 1 seat, the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi has begun the process to identify three prospective candidates to send to Governor David Y. Ige for his consideration.

According to HRS 17-3 (b)(3), the appointee shall be at the time of the appointment, and shall have been for at least six months immediately prior to the appointment, a member of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi. Furthermore, the appointee shall, at the time of the appointment, be a resident of Senate District 1.


Interested candidates who wish to be considered and meet the qualifications above may obtain an application packet by emailing [email protected]. Applications must be received by 6 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.

Pursuant to the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi Bylaws, Article IX, Section 5, the three nominees will be chosen by a 45-member selection body comprised of the officers of Precinct Clubs 01-07, 01-08, 01-09, 02-01, 02-02, 02-03, 02-04, 02-05, and 03-01, as well as the District Officers of House Districts 1, 2, and 3 who reside within Senate District 1.

The selection body will meet electronically on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. to identify three names to forward on to the Governor.


The Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi says it is committed to filling this vacancy in a “timely and expeditious way” to ensure that Senate District 1 will be represented well before the legislative session begins.

As such, the leadership of the Hawaiʻi County Democratic Party and the State Democratic Party intend to transmit the three chosen names to Governor Ige immediately upon the adjournment of the meeting to give him sufficient time to consider a replacement before the start of the 2021 legislative session.


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