Hawaiʻi County Democrats elect Pono Kekela as interim committee chairman

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Big Island Democrats have elected a new Hawaiʻi County interim chairman.

Pono Kekela

The Hawaiʻi County Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi picked Pono Kekela as its leader for the interim during its first quarterly meeting of 2024.

Kekela previously served as representative for state Senate District 2, which includes Hilo, Puna and portions of Kaʻū, on the Hawaiʻi Democratic Party State Central Committee.

Kekela’s election coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi in 1954, when a critical alliance was forming between organizing labor forces and communities of workers in emerging industries.


Advocacy of worker rights became the shared goal of organized labor and the emerging Democratic Party, which sought protections and respect for workers, many of whom were immigrants with language barriers and needed a unifying voice.

For these reasons, Kekela dubbed 2024 as “The Year of the Worker” to emphasize his focus on continuing to advocate for issues important to Hawaiʻi workers and their families while honoring 70 Years of Democratic values, hard work and historic achievements.

Born and raised in Hilo, Kekela graduated from Waiākea High School and went on to receive a business degree at Midland University in Nebraska.


He moved back to Hilo in January 2020 and now owns marketing and communications company Kekela Enterprises and is active in Hui ‘Ohana, the Hawai‘i Island Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.

“Living abroad exposed me to many opportunities and experiences that shaped me and influenced my decision to kōkua in our communities,” said Kekela. “Since returning home I have witnessed the communities that I grew up in had not flourished or gained the support they have needed for years. I believe that serving as chair of the Hawaiʻi County Democratic Party can be one part of achieving that objective.”

He strongly believes that the Democratic Party has a rich history and legacy of grassroots advocacy of equality and opportunity.


“So that we don’t forget those values and principles,” Kekela said, “ we need to celebrate the triumphs of our past generations so we can chart a path ahead that seeks a more meaningful and equitable life for all. We must remember to amplify the significance of our working families, our veterans, our keiki and our kūpuna who need our support and our willingness to push for transparency and accountability from our elected leaders.”

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