Maui Election

Democratic Party Receives Six Applications for Senate District 7 Seat

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The Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi has received six applications from interested members to fill the vacant Senate District 7 seat, which was previously held by Senator J. Kalani English until his retirement on May 1, 2021. The Senate District 7 seat represents Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, and Kaho‘olawe.

As determined by the DPH Constitution, Article VIII, Section 9, DPH Bylaws Article IX, Sections 4 and 5, and the Party’s Procedures for Filling Legislative Mid-term Vacancies, the following candidates have submitted applications and met the requirements to be considered for inclusion on the final list of three names to be transmitted to the Governor:

  • Leo Caires of Maui, a community leader, agricultural business owner, and renewable energy executive.
  • Lynn DeCoite of Molokaʻi, the current Representative for House District 13 and a small business owner, farmer and rancher.
  • Riki Hokama of Lānaʻi, a delegate to the 1978 Con-Con, and longtime County Council member who served as Budget Chair and Council Chairman of Maui.
  • Timothy Lara, a leader in sustainable tourism, nonprofit boardmember, and former Maui County Democratic Party Chair.
  • Walter Ritte of Molokaʻi, a former high school teacher, coach, OHA Trustee, and longtime community leader and advocate.
  • Yuki Lei Sugimura of Maui, the current Councilmember for Upcountry Maui who also previously served as the Vice Chair of the Maui County Democratic Party.

The approximately 60 officers of the Democratic Party’s Precinct Clubs and House District Councils within Senate District 7 will meet on Saturday, May 15 at 10 a.m. on Zoom to interview the applicants and vote on the three names who will be sent to the Governor. At the meeting, each eligible officer will be permitted to vote for up to three different candidates.


“I’m pleased to see that there are strong applicants from all parts of Senate District 7, including candidates from Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lāna‘i. All of the candidates possess a strong record of community service, and I encourage the officers of the selection body to carefully consider what each applicant brings to the table,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi.

The interviews and election on Saturday morning will be led by Jonathan Starr, Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi’s House District 13 Council, and Stephen West, Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi’s House District 12 Council.

“Our unique ‘canoe district’ which encompasses multiple islands deserves strong representation and an effective voice in the State Senate. It is an honor to be one of the leaders facilitating this process, and I look forward to hearing from the candidates at Saturday’s meeting. It is an exciting time to be a Hawaiʻi Democrat,” said Stephen West, who will be co-leading Saturday’s interviews and election.


Participation and discussion in the Saturday morning Zoom meeting will be limited to the eligible precinct officers. However, to foster openness and transparency, the meeting will be streamed “live” on the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi’s Facebook page.

Once voting is complete, a public announcement will be made about the three names that will be transmitted first to the State Party Chair, and then to the Governor, who has until June 30 to make an appointment from the list.


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