The 2014 election season kicks off today with the beginning of the candidate filing period, which runs through June 3.
This year, Hawaii Island voters will have their work cut out for them as they will be called upon to weigh in on a number of federal, state and county posts. The seats up for grabs include:
• One U.S. Senator: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI, was temporarily appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Dec. 26, 2012, to fill a vacancy created following the Dec. 17, 2012, death of longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. As the original term of office was to expire Jan. 3, 2017, a primary and general election will be held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled elections in 2014 to nominate and elect someone to fill the remainder of the term of office.
• One U.S. Representative: District 2, currently held by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-District 2.
• Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Seats currently held by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui.
• Three state senators: District 1, currently held by Sen. Gil Kahele, D-Hilo; District 3, currently held by Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u; and District 4, currently held by Sen. Malama Solomon, D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa and Kona.
• Seven state representatives: District 1, currently held by Rep. Mark Nakashima, D-Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo; District 2, currently held by Rep. Clift Tsuji, D-Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa and Waiakea; District 3, currently held by Rep. Richard H.K. Onishi, D-Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano; District 4, currently held by Rep. Faye P. Hanohano, D-Puna; District 5, currently held by Rep. Richard Creagan, D-Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona; District 6, currently held by Rep. Nicole E. Lowen, D-Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau; and District 7, currently held by Rep. Cindy Evans, D-North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala.
• Three at-large Office of Hawaiian Affairs Representatives.
• Nine Hawaii County Council members: District 1, currently held by Valerie Poindexter, portion of South Hilo, North Hilo, Hamakua, portion of Waimea; District 2, currently held by J Yoshimoto, portion of South Hilo; District 3, currently held by Dennis Onishi, portion of South Hilo, Portion of Keaau; District 4, currently held by Greggor Ilagan, portion of Eastern Puna; District 5, currently held by Zendo Kern, portion of Western Puna; District 6, currently held by Brenda Ford, portion of North Kona, South Kona, Ka‘u and Greater Volcano Area; District 7, currently held by Dru Mamo Kanuha, portion of South Kona, portion of North Kona; Distrct 8, currently held by Karen Eoff, North Kona; and District 9, currently held by Margaret Wille, North and South Kohala.
Republican and Democratic party chairmen for Hawaii Island said Sunday the upcoming election season is an important one, and called upon supporters to get involved early.
“I’m really excited about this campaign year,” said David Tarnas, chairman of the Hawaii County Democrats. “We’ll see if we can get Democrats of every stripe out there involved. There are important issues for everybody up for discussion in this campaign, and we’re asking people to get informed and get involved.
While every race and election will be important, he added, the Democratic party will be placing particular emphasis on the races that will likely be decided during the contested primaries.
“We want to be supportive of all the Democratic candidates in the primary, and we’ll want Democrats to get actively engaged,” he said.
Among those races he and the rest of the party will be watching closely will be the contest between “two very strong candidates” in U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz to represent the U.S. Senate district formerly held by Inouye. The race for governor, with incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie being challenged by Sen. David Ige will also be one to watch, Tarnas said.
Meanwhile, he said he will be interested to see if anyone rises to challenge Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in her re-election bid to remain as Hawaii’s District 2 U.S. House representative.
Daryl Smith, chairman of the Hawaii County Republican Party, said he was highly optimistic for the coming year, and said he anticipates GOP candidates will enter their races with plenty of momentum — much of it based on their opposition to the gay marriage bill, which passed into law after a heated special session last year.
“We had our district caucuses in Hilo (Saturday), and I was really surprised at the turnout of the people who were against the gay marriage bill. None of them were registered Republicans, but the whole group was a strong Christian turnout that I haven’t ever seen before,” he said.
“You know, you look at the news and media coverage, and there were more peole against it (the gay marriage legislation) than for it, so how did it ever make it through?”
The governor’s race will be one to watch this year, Smith said, with recent word former Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona intends to run.
“Of course, we’ll be focusing on that race,” Smith said. “We also have a couple people, I can’t say for sure, who have said they’re going to pull papers for different (state) House seats. And we have some talk about a mayoral candidate (in 2016). … But right now I can’t say for sure. We’ve had people who have said in the past ‘I’m running,’ and then they don’t pull papers.”
Smith added he will be having caucuses in Kona this weekend from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Kona Airport Pavilion No. 2, at which point he’ll have a better handle on what to expect this election season.
This year’s primary is scheduled for Aug. 9, with the general election to follow Nov. 4.
Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago and county clerks will begin issuing nomination papers and accepting completed candidate filings at various locations throughout the state. On Hawaii Island, those interested in filing for federal, state and county offices may file at two locations:
• Office of County Clerk, Elections Division
25 Aupuni St., Suite 1502, Hilo, HI 96720
Phone: (808) 961-8277
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
• Kona Elections Division
West Hawaii Civic Center
74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Building B, 2nd floor
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Phone: (808) 961-8277
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m., by appointment only.
For more information, a candidate’s manual can be viewed online at www.hawaii.gov/elections/candidates. The manual contains information on how to become a candidate for federal, state and county office, and the applicable filing fees and nomination signature requirements.
The candidate filing deadline is 4:30 p.m. June 3. For more information regarding candidate filing, go to www.hawaii.gov/elections.
Email Colin M. Stewart at email@example.com.