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Dems Name Other Fifth House District Finalists

January 14, 2014, 2:16 PM HST
* Updated January 14, 2:18 PM
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John Buckstead, chairman of the West Hawaii region for the Democratic Party, today released the names of the two other candidates considered to fill the state House seat vacated by Rep. Denny Coffman.

Buckstead said the others were Michael Matsukawa and Steve Sakala.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday selected Richard Creagan, an emergency room physician who lives in Ka`u, to replace Coffman as the representative of the Fifth House District.

Creagan, Matsukawa and Sakala were the finalists chosen from a list of nine applicants by the Democratic Party’s Big Island District Council.

The governor and Democratic Party officials previously declined to name the other two.

Creagan took office immediately and will serve until the Nov. 4, 2014 general election.

Matsukawa is a longtime Kailua-Kona attorney who has been active in a variety of community and government issues. He also served as Hawaii County Corporation Counsel in the early 1990s.

Sakala and his wife, Melinda, operate the Honaunau EcoRetreat Farm & Education Center.  He also serves on the board of the Kona Pacific Public Charter School and as vice president of the Kona Chapter of the Hawaii Farmers Union.

The others six who applied for the position were Abigail Au, Kaliko Chun, Barbara Dalton, Una Greenaway, Lei Kihoi and Gene “Bucky” Leslie.

Both Au and Dalton serve in Abercrombie’s Kona office. Chun is active in the community and a former candidate for the Fifth District seat, Greenaway is a Captain Cook coffee farmer, Kihoi is an attorney active in Native Hawaiian issues who was appointed by Abercrombie as a member of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, and Leslie is owner of Flowers for Mama, a Holualoa floral shop.

Four of the nine who applied – Creagan, Dalton, Greenaway and Matsukawa – are also members of the District Council. All four were recused from the selection process, the Democratic Party said in a press release.

“The ranking and selection process maximized the preferences of the council members, and folks were pleased that we are able to submit three well qualified nominees to the governor and that the process of making the selection was very fair and transparent to the voters,” Buckstead said in the release.

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