Will the third time be the charm?

Staff for the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission have again calculated staggered terms for Hawaii Senate seats, citing errors for the second time in less than two weeks.

Hawaii senators typically are elected to four-year terms, so approximately half have to run for re-election every two years. But because of reapportionment, next year all lawmakers need to run for re-election, even those who were just elected in 2010. Figuring out the staggered terms could not happen until the commission finalized new political boundaries, which happened at its Sept. 26 meeting.

At that meeting, the commission approved a plan that called for Kaneohe Sen. Jill Tokuda to be the only senator elected in 2010 to have to run for a second two-year term in 2012.

Later that week, staff sent out a revised list of staggered terms that added Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz to Tokuda’s boat as having to run for a second two-year term in 2012 after just being elected in 2010.

At a meeting this week to approve the revised plan, staff again revised the list of staggered terms.

The Hawaii Constitution lays out the rules for staggering the terms, requiring that two-year terms be assigned to 12 seats for the election immediately following the adoption of the reapportionment plan.

The 12 districts are not randomly selected, but are calculated to have had “the smallest populations of participation in the 2010 senatorial elections,” according to reapportionment staff. In other words, how many residents in a newly drawn district live in a current district that elected a senator in 2010.

Staff said the first revision was needed because they overlooked the outright election of Carol Fukunaga to District 11 in the 2010 primary election. The latest revision is due to special elections for Districts 7 and 22 being overlooked.

In the case of District 7, Kauai Sen. Ron Kouchi was elected in 2010 to fill out the remainder of former Sen. Gary Hooser’s four-year term. Likewise, Dela Cruz, who represents District 22, was elected in 2010 to fill out the remainder of former Sen. Bobby Bunda’s four-year term. Both these districts had previously been assigned to four-year terms in 2012, but are now assigned to two-year terms.

The new calculation now assigns Tokuda’s seat to a four-year term in 2014.

The commission recessed its Oct. 5 meeting until Oct. 13 at 4 p.m., when it is expected to approve the latest plan.

Here’s the latest list of terms:

Read related stories:

About the Author