Souki endorses Justin Woodson in bid for House

Wailuku representative and House Speaker Joe Souki has endorsed Justin Woodson for election to the Central Maui 9th House seat he was appointed to by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, according to an announcement from Woodson.

Woodson, a Democrat, has checked out nomination papers but has yet to file officially as a candidate for the seat that covers Kahului, Puunene, old Sand Hills and Maui Lani.

“Representative Woodson has been a valuable asset to the Maui delegation in the state House and served as an important part of our team over the past two years,” Souki is quoted as saying in the announcement.

Former Maui Mayor James “Kimo” Apana, also a Democrat, has already filed as a candidate for the seat.

Apana, 51, works as a businessman and Realtor. He served as mayor from 1999 to 2003.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Woodson to the Kahului House seat when former representative and now state Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran was named to the Central Maui state Senate seat. That seat was vacated when Shan Tsutsui was appointed as lieutenant governor. He replaced Brian Schatz, who left the position to fill the U.S. Senate seat that opened when longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye died Dec. 17, 2012.

Woodson said he was honored to receive Souki’s endorsement.

“I have enjoyed working with him to accomplish many great things for Maui County and the state of Hawaii over the course of my first term, and I have attempted to bring new ideas that I believe have yielded effective results.”

In November, Woodson was one of 19 House members to vote against the controversial marriage equality bill, calling the measure “divisive” and saying that he hoped to see a legislative proposal that would provide equal rights to same-sex couples while maintaining the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

East Maui Rep. Mele Carroll also voted against the measure. The Democrat has checked out but not filed nomination papers for re-election to the 13th House District seat, which also includes Paia, Molokai and Lanai. Former Molokai Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Haliniak, a Democrat, has taken out papers for the 13th House seat, but she also has checked out nomination papers for the East Maui-Upcountry-Molokai-Lanai Senate seat held by Democrat J. Kalani English and the Molokai council residency seat held by Stacy Crivello.

English and Crivello have already filed papers to reclaim their seats. A state Office of Elections printout of updated candidate papers filed as of Friday showed that Haliniak had not decided which seat to vie for.

Meanwhile, Waihee resident Christy Ann Kajiwara-Gusman announced her candidacy and checked out nomination papers for the 5th Senate District seat held by Keith-Agaran, a Democrat, who has taken out but not filed papers. Republican Joseph Kamaka of Wailuku also has nomination papers for the seat

In her announcement, Kajiwara-Gusman said education is her top priority, and she discussed her family’s 60-year history of involvement with the Democratic Party of Hawaii. Born and reared on Kauai, she has served as a party official at the Central Committee, precinct and district levels.

Wailuku Republican Cranston Kaleialoha Kapoi has filed as a candidate for the 8th House District seat held by Souki, a Democrat. The seat includes Wailuku, Waihee, Waikapu, Waiehu, Kahakuloa and Puuohala.

For the 10th House seat that includes West Maui, Maalaea and north Kihei, Democratic incumbent Rep. Angus McKelvey has officially filed as a candidate. Republican Chayne Marten has checked out but not filed nomination papers for the seat.

For the 11th House seat held by Democrat Kaniela Ing, Democrat Marie Minichino pulled nomination papers last week. Libertarian Patric R. Brock also has checked out but not filed papers. Ing has yet to check out nomination papers.

There was relatively little new activity among candidates for Maui County offices.

In the contest for Maui County mayor, Kahului resident Orion M. Kopelman filed officially as a candidate, making his second bid for the seat. In the 2010 primary contest for mayor, Kopelman finished eighth in an 11-candidate field, receiving 111 votes, or 0.4 percent. In a statement, the 52-year-old former Silicon Valley engineering executive said he plans to run Maui County more like a business that “focuses on results.”

“Some growth is inevitable, and we have to make sure we put in the necessary infrastructure,” he said. “We don’t want to become another Oahu.”

Kihei resident Alana Kay and Lahaina resident Tamara Paltin also have filed as candidates for mayor.

Mayor Alan Arakawa and Wailuku residents Carson Nemoto and Nelson Waikiki Jr. have checked out but not filed nomination papers.

South Maui Council Member Don Couch filed papers for re-election. Two others, John Fitzpatrick and Robin Knox, have signed out papers but not filed for the seat.

Former Makawao-Haiku-Paia Council Member Mike Molina, currently an executive assistant with Arakawa, officially filed papers for the seat held by Council Member Mike White, who has yet to check out nomination papers.

Lanai Council Member Riki Hokama checked out papers for re-election. Lanai Today publisher and editor Alberta de Jetley has signed out but not filed papers for the council seat.

June 3 is the deadline for candidates to file nomination papers. The primary election is Aug. 9, and the general election is Nov. 4.

* Brian Perry can be reached at