Keith-Agaran puts in name for Senate seat

Central Maui House Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran has submitted his name to Maui County Democratic Party officials for consideration to fill the 5th Senate District seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui.

Keith-Agaran, 50, of Kahului said he talked with family members about the possibility of succeeding Tsutsui, who last week replaced Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate to the seat vacated by the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, 88, on Dec. 17.

“They were encouraging,” Keith-Agaran said of family members.

He said he also consulted with friends, supporters and colleagues.

“Most of them pointed out the pros and cons,” he said.

Keith-Agaran said he heard some concerns from fellow House members because he had been designated to be the House majority leader.

“But when it comes down to it, I was elected to represent the community,” he said. “This is what makes the most sense.”

Troy Hashimoto, corresponding secretary for the Maui County Democratic Party, said that as of Tuesday afternoon, the party had received two applications for the vacant 5th Senate seat. He did not identify the applicants.

Keith-Agaran said he understood others were planning to apply for the position, but he declined to identify them.

Any Democrat in good standing and a resident of the Senate District may apply until 5 p.m. Thursday. Applications can be found online at On Saturday, the party’s ad-hoc nominating committee will meet to hear presentations from the applicants and then vote on three names to submit to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for appointment to Tsutsui’s former Senate seat.

If Keith-Agaran receives the appointment, then a similar process would need to be undertaken to find a replacement for his 9th House District seat. In August, Keith-Agaran beat Kahului Council Member Joe Pontanilla in a winner-take-all Democratic primary for the Central Maui House seat.