So you thought the 2008 election—and our seemingly endless coverage of it—was over? Not quite.
Per state law, the Democratic Party has submitted a list of three names to Gov. Lingle, from which she will choose the replacement for state Rep. Bob Nakasone, who died December 7. The contenders for the 9th District seat—which encompasses Wailuku, Kahului, Puunene, Makawao and Paia—are Kehau Filimoe’atu, Lance Holter and Gil Keith-Agaran.
Despite the fact that he was battling cancer, Nakasone was re-elected by a wide margin to a two-year term in November.
Lingle, a Republican, has until February 5 to maker her selection.
Nakasone, a widely respected public servant who was first elected to the state House in 1992, had been ailing for some time; speculation about who would replace him if he was unable to serve out his term began well before his death. (Concerns over Nakasone’s health led us to withhold our endorsement in that race.)
Notably absent from the list of potential replacements is former Maui Mayor James “Kimo” Apana. Apana briefly entered the 9th District race before the primary election, but withdrew and supported Nakasone when the incumbent decided to run just before the deadline.
Another name that was floated as a possible successor was Nakasone’s daughter, Joni McGinnis. According to a December 9 Honolulu Advertiser story, 5th District Rep. Roz Baker said it was Nakasone’s wish that his daughter take his place.
But the names that were left off the list are less important than the the ones that made it on. Here’s a quick look at the credentials of the nominees, each of whom, in his or her own way, seems to represent the party’s more progressive faction:
A Native Hawaiian advocate who serves as president of Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA), a non-profit that fights for affordable housing for native families, Filimoe’atu has taken a strong stance on issues ranging from water rights to development—including, notably, Wailea 670—always with an eye on the interests of the native population. She also serves on the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC).
A Paia realtor and chair of the Maui County Democratic Party, Holter, who cut his activist teeth in the Peace Corps, has twice run for the County Council and frequently involves himself in local issues including—but not limited to—the push for renewable energy and the protection of undeveloped coastal lands. (For what it’s worth, Holter was voted “Best Political Activist” by Maui Time readers in our 2007 Best of Maui poll.)
A Wailuku attorney and president of the non-profit Maui Coastal Land Trust, Keith-Agaran has a long governmental resume, having previously served as Maui County Public Works Director and, at the state level, chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, Director of Labor and Deputy Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
We’re not going to endorse here, because it’s not up to us or, more precisely, you; it’s up to Gov. Lingle, for better or worse.
What we will do is join others in asking the Governor to make a swift selection so the new 9th District Rep. can hit the ground running on Oahu. MTW