Six interested in filling Sen. English’s seat

Democratic Party will hold interviews today via Zoom; public may view on Facebook


The Democratic Party of Hawaii received six applications by its deadline late Thursday night from interested party members to fill the seat of recently retired state Sen. J. Kalani English.

The applicants will be interviewed via Zoom this morning.

They 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, which includes Lanai, Molokai, East Maui, Paia and Nahiku. She is a small business owner, farmer and rancher.


• Riki Hokama of Lanai, a delegate to the 1978 Constitutional Convention and longtime Maui County Council member who served as budget chairman and council chairman.

• Timothy Lara of Lanai, a leader in sustainable tourism, nonprofit board member, and former Maui County Democratic Party chairman.

• Walter Ritte of Molokai, a former high school teacher, coach, OHA Trustee, and longtime community leader and advocate.

• Yuki Lei Sugimura of Maui, a current Maui County Council member who holds the Upcountry seat and also previously served as the vice chairwoman  of the Maui County Democratic Party.

The Senate District 7 seat represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. English retired May 1, as he continues to battle long-term effects of COVID-19.


The approximately 60 officers of the Democratic Party’s Precinct Clubs and House District Councils within Senate District 7 will meet at 10 a.m. today on Zoom to interview the applicants and vote on the three names which will be sent to the state party chairman then to Gov. David Ige. Ige has until June 30 to pick a replacement to fill the remainder of English’s term, with the next election for the seat in 2022.

At the meeting, each eligible officer will be permitted to vote for up to three candidates. Participation and discussion will be limited to the eligible precinct officers. But the public can watch the meeting, which will be livestreamed on the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Facebook page.

“I’m pleased to see that there are strong applicants from all parts of Senate District 7, including candidates from Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. 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, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

The interviews and election this morning will be led by Jonathan Starr, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s House District 13 Council, and Stephen West, vice chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s House District 12 Council.





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