East Hawaii News

Senator Kahele Addresses Residency Issue

February 26, 2016, 5:20 PM HST
* Updated February 27, 9:50 AM
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Kaiali’i Kahele. Photo courtesy Office of Governor David Ige.

Kaiali’i Kahele. File photo: Office of Governor David Ige.

Newly appointed State Senator Kaiali’i Kahele is facing questions about where his legal main place of residence is and whether it resides in the Senate district he currently serves.

Sen. Kahele, the son of late Senator Gilbert Kahele, responded to media inquiries on Thursday about a home that is listed under his name in Miloli’i. Kahele serves District 1, which covers the greater Hilo area.

“I live in the First Senatorial District – Hilo. In 2012, I moved to Hilo and have resided in Hilo continuously from that time,” Kahele said in a statement. “At that time, my parents and I agreed to take out a mortgage to remodel their house to allow me and my family to live there. Since 2012, I have continuously had the residence in Hilo as my primary residence and have used that residence for all purposes, including voter registration.”

DLNR spokesperson Dan Dennison said that the issue has not been brought up with the Board of Land and Natural Resources, but he explained the process that is taken if it is found that Kahele, or anyone in a similar position, violates terms of its lease with DLNR.

“The lease on that particular [property] contains a breach provision. If a lessee violates the condition of the lease, we can issue a notice of default,” Dennison said. “If the lessee does not timely cure, usually within a month or two months, the DLNR Land Division can take the lease to the Board of Land and Natural Resources for termination. It is then in their hands at that point to determine what they want to do with it.”

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Dennison could not say how long the land had been owned by the DLNR. The lease was originally done through Kahele’s aunt, Sally Kahikinaokala, back in 2011.

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“In 2011, I was approached by extended family with a request to assume my Aunt’s lease for the property in question. My Aunt was in poor health and her family was afraid that the lease would be lost by our family. Under those circumstances, I agreed to pay off my Aunt’s mortgage and assume the lease with DLNR,” Sen. Kahele explained. “The matter was handled informally without legal advisors. Since I became aware of the terms of the leas, I have contacted the DLNR for the purpose of addressing the situation. I am hopeful and confident that I will be able to resolve this matter with the DLNR in the near future.”

Kahele was sworn into office on Feb. 17.

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