The Democratic Party of Hawaii on Friday said it has received six applications from interested members to fill the vacant Senate District 7 seat, previously held by J. Kalani English until his retirement on May 1.

The seat represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

The applicants are:

  • Leo Caires of Maui, a community leader, agricultural business owner, and renewable energy executive.
  • Lynn DeCoite of Molokai, the current representative for House District 13 and a small business owner, farmer and rancher.
  • Riki Hokama of Lanai, a delegate to the 1978 Con-Con and longtime County Council member who served as Budget Chair and Council Chairman of Maui.
  • Timothy Lara of Lanai, a leader in sustainable tourism, nonprofit board member, and former Maui County Democratic Party Chair.
  • Walter Ritte of Molokai, a former high school teacher, coach, OHA Trustee and longtime community leader and advocate.
  • Yuki Lei Sugimura of Maui, the current councilmember for Upcountry Maui who also previously served as the vice chair of the Maui County Democratic Party.

Officers of the Democratic Party’s precinct clubs and House district councils within Senate District 7 will meet on Saturday via Zoom to interview the applicants and vote on the three names who will be sent to Gov. David Ige.

“All of the candidates possess a strong record of community service, and I encourage the officers of the selection body to carefully consider what each applicant brings to the table,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Democratic Party of Hawaii chair, in a press release.

“Our unique ‘canoe district’ which encompasses multiple islands deserves strong representation and an effective voice in the State Senate, said Stephen West, who will co-lead Saturday’s interviews and election.

Once voting is complete, a public announcement will be made about the three names that will be transmitted first to the State Party Chair and then to the governor, who has until June 30 to make an appointment.

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