State Rep. Lynn DeCoite (District 13: Haiku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai and Molokini) on Wednesday said she is putting her name in contention to succeed Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English.

She said in a press release, “After consulting with my family and encouragement from friends and supporters, I am pleased to announce that I will be putting my name forth for consideration to fill the Senate District 7 seat.”

Walter Ritte and Lynn DeCoite. 

English, who represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai and Lanai, will step down Saturday. He revealed this week that he has been suffering lingering consequences of COVID-19.

English also said be supports DeCoite to replace him. That decision, however, is up to Gov. David Ige, who has two months to name a new senator from a list of three names submitted by area party officials.

On Thursday, supporters of longtime Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte said they would be submitting his name for consideration.

“Walter is one of the great kupuna of the Hawaiian nation, and when a person of his capacity and experience decides to be part of something, it is very important that we listen,” said Sean Lester. He’s the vice chair of Precinct 13-2 on Maui, in the Haiku area, and treasurer for District 13, which includes Hana, Molokai and Haiku.

Ritte acknowledged that he is interested in the gig.

“There are so many problems we have, which the pandemic has shined a light on,” he said. “We cannot act like the problems are going to disappear because we are getting vaccines.”

Among the legislative priorities for Ritte is food independence and giving Hawaiians a “much more serious voice” at the Legislature.

For her part, DeCoite said Senate District 7 needs someone who “will foster the relationships that (English) has built and continue to ensure that resources are properly allocated to our rural communities.”

DeCoite defeated Ritte in a 2020 House Democratic primary race by a mere 94 votes, which prompted a recount that DeCoite also won.

Also on Thursday, former Maui Democratic Party chair, environmentalist and entrepreneur Timothy Lara said he also intends to seek English’s seat.

He said in a press release, “If selected for the Senate District 7 vacancy, I will not seek re-election but rather finish the last year of Senator English’s current four-year term. This would then create space for an open election in 2022 so that the people of Maui, Molokai and Lanai can choose their next senator.”

Lara, according to the press release, currently serves on the Maui Council for the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and as a director for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

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