A government veteran with experience on Capitol Hill is considering a run for the Honolulu City Council.
Esther Kiaaina, executive director of the nonprofit Pacific Basin Development Council, says she is seriously considering the District 3 seat (Ahuimanu, Heeia, Haiku, Kaneohe, Maunawili, Kailua, Olomana, Enchanted Lake, and Waimanalo) being vacated by the term-limited Ikaika Anderson.
“Kailua/Waimanalo are facing a leadership transition in the upcoming election cycle,” she said via email, referring to two open state House seats, one open state Senate seat, one open City Council seat and an open congressional seat.
Kiaaina, who moved to Kailua last year, said she was approached by local political and community leaders to consider the race “given the importance of issues impacting quality of life issues for the region.”
Kiaaina served as the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas at the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Obama Administration between 2014-2017. The position involved coordinating overall federal policy for the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Previously she worked at the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Kamehameha Schools. And she worked in the offices of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and U.S. Rep. Ed Case.
Kiaaina unsuccessfully sought election to the OHA Board of Trustees and the U.S. House.
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