Hawai‘i County Democrats to Vote on Nominations to Fill Kahele’s Senate Seat

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The Hawai‘i County Committee of the Democratic Party will vote on seven individuals to determine who will fill the State Senate District 1 seat left vacant by Sen. Kai Kahele who was elected to the US House of Representatives.

The following individuals have been nominated to fill the seat:

  • Laura Acasio
  • Jennifer Kagiwada
  • Amy Kalili
  • Wilfred “Wil” Okabe
  • Dennis “Fresh” Onishi
  • Maureen Namaka Rawlins
  • Christopher Toshiro Todd

On Dec. 23, a virtual meeting will take place at 6 p.m. with the respective officers of the Precinct Clubs and District Councils affected by Kahele’s vacancy.

To ensure transparency, the meeting will be streamed “live” on the Hawai‘i County Facebook page up to the point of actual voting. This means party members and the general public may watch presentations by the candidates. Then, prior to the start of voting, the “live” stream will be discontinued, though the entire meeting will be recorded.


To ensure transparency and accuracy, votes will be recorded on screen – fully visible to all Precinct Club and District Council officers who are online and eligible to vote. In addition, a separate tally sheet will be maintained to verify accuracy.

Once voting is complete, a public announcement will be made about the three names that will be submitted first to the State Party Chair, and then to Gov. David Ige to make a final determination of the new State Senator for Hawai’i Island’s District 1.

There are 44 elected officers for the affected Precinct Clubs and District Councils eligible to participate in the selection process based on party rules. Micah Alameda, the elected Hawai’i County Democratic Party Dist. 2 Chair, is taking the lead in coordinating the nomination process – working closely with Dist. 1 Chair Michael Janovsky and Dist. 3 Chair Katie Kamelamela.


For the nominating meeting, the three District Chairs have appointed Jeff McKnight to assist and record the selection process. McKnight serves as the elected County Secretary for the Hawaii County Committee (HCC) and is not a voting member of this selection body.

Assisting McKnight will be Kamelamela, and also HCC members Shannon Matson and Patti Cook. Neither Matson nor Cook are voting members of the selection body.

Also attending the nominating meeting in a non-voting capacity will be HCC Chair Gerri Kahili, East Hawai’i Vice Chair Andy Kahili, State Democratic Party Chair Tyler Dos Santos-Tam and State Democratic Party Parliamentarian Dr. William Puette. Chair Dos Santos-Tam and the Parliamentarian will be available to advise and answer questions.


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