As one-term U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele weighs a run for governor, Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters said Hawaii deserves a federal representative who will live and work in Washington, D.C. for the next 20 years.

“It’s all about seniority in Washington, D.C. It’s all about experience,” said Waters, who is considering running to replace Kahele, on Monday’s Spotlight Hawaii program.

“You can only get things done if you’ve been there, building relationships and work and live in Washington, D.C.”

Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters endorses Ikaika Anderson for the office of Lt. Governor at Kailua Beach Park.
Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters is “seriously considering” a run for Hawaii’s second congressional district. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Waters referenced Neil Abercombie, who represented the state’s first congressional district from 1991 until 2010.  Since then, the district, which covers urban Honolulu and the surrounding area, has changed representatives every few years.

The same is true in the second congressional district, which covers Oahu’s Windward side, North Shore and west side, plus all of the other Hawaiian islands. Since Rep. Patsy Mink’s death in office in 2002, the district has been represented by four different people.

Kahele, who took office in 2020, has been criticized recently for his use of proxy voting while home in Hawaii.

Waters said he would consider running if the CD2 opens up but wouldn’t say on Monday whether he would challenge Kahele if the congressman stays put.

“I am seriously considering it because I think it’s important to fill that seat with someone who is willing to make that commitment, someone who is willing to stay there and not use this as a stepping stone to other political offices, someone who is going to be committed to representing Hawaii nei,” he said.

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