Democrats seek candidates to fill 9th House seat vacancy

Those interested in filling the District 9 state House seat vacated by Democrat Gil Keith-Agaran have until noon Friday to apply for the spot.

Any Democrat in good standing for at least six months prior to the application deadline may submit his or her name. The applicant must be a resident of House District 9, which includes Kahului and a portion of Sand Hills in Wailuku.

On Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Keith-Agaran, 50, of Kahului to succeed Shan Tsutsui in the Senate District 5 seat he vacated earlier this year to accept an appointment as lieutenant governor.

As Senate president, Tsutsui was next in line for the job after Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz was tapped by Abercrombie to fill the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye’s seat in Washington, D.C., after Inouye died Dec. 17 at 88 years old.

Applicants must fill out a “statement of candidacy” form, submit a resume not to exceed one page and complete a questionnaire, which can be obtained at or at the Law Offices of Merchant Horovitz at the Wells Street Professional Center, Suite 101, at 305 High St. in Wailuku.

Recommendations from third parties will not be considered. Only applicants may submit their names.

All applications will be date- and time-stamped and a confirmation sent to the applicant. The party chairman will determine whether all applicants are eligible by residency and in “good standing” with the party.

The Democratic Party’s District 9 Council will make up the official nominating committee and will meet on Saturday. The meeting will not be open to the public.

The committee will allow each candidate to speak for up to 10 minutes and committee members will be able to vote for up to three candidates, but not for the same person.

The final three names as identified by the nominating committee will then be transmitted to the Maui County Democratic Party chairman and the Hawaii Democratic Party chairman who will then forward the names to the governor. He has 60 calendar days following the first day of the vacancy to make an appointment to the House seat.

“This is a grass-roots effort and a wonderful opportunity to serve the people of Hawaii and the residents of the 9th District. I encourage any interested Democrats to apply,” said Dave Merchant, chairman of District 9’s Nominating Committee.

For any questions or more information, contact Merchant via email at or by phone at 344-3347.