Democratic Party Selects Three Names for Senate District 7 Vacancy Finalists

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May 15, 2021

Members of the Maui County Democratic Party’s Senate District 7 selection body – comprised of the party’s precinct officers and district council officers who reside in Senate District 7 – have selected three names to send to Governor David Ige for his consideration to fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of Senator J. Kalani English:

  • Lynn DeCoite of Hoʻolehua, Molokaʻi, the current Representative for House District 13 and a small business owner, farmer and rancher;
  • Yuki Lei Sugimura of Kula, Maui, the current County Council Member representing Upcountry Maui who has served as the Vice Chair of the Maui County Democratic Party; and
  • Leo Caires of Kula, Maui, a community leader, agricultural business owner, and renewable energy executive.

These three names have been formally transmitted to Governor David Ige this afternoon via an electronic letter. The Governor now has until June 30 to select one of these individuals to serve as the next Senator for Senate District 7.

“These three candidates have deep roots in the district and I am confident that all of them would represent the ‘canoe district’ well. All three possess a small business background, which will help to guide Maui Nui and the entire state toward economic recovery,” said Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi Chair Tyler Dos Santos-Tam.

The finalists were chosen from a pool of six total applicants that also included consideration of: Riki Hokama of Lānaʻi, Timothy Lara  and Walter Ritte of Molokaʻi.

“Today’s selection process embodied grassroots democracy in action,” said Jonathan Starr, Chair of the party’s District 13 Council. “This process showed the passion of Maui Democrats to be involved in the community. Democrats love to participate in this type of process. Every Maui Democrat I’ve known stays involved because of a passion for some positive cause, whether it’s environment, jobs and quality of employment opportunities, healthcare, education, ag and food security, equality, etc. It’s uplifting to hang with kindred but diverse spirits. Democrats successfully came together today, considered the issues facing our district, and identified the candidates whom we felt would best represent us.”

“It was an honor to be a part of this process and to serve as a co-chair alongside my counterpart Jonathan Starr. The selection process was transparent and open to all to view. The grassroots aloha spirit is alive and well within the Democratic Party,” said Stephen West, Vice Chair of the party’s District 12 Council.

The meeting, which was conducted over Zoom and broadcast over Facebook live, was held on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. A total of 54 members of the selection body participated, and each was entitled to vote for up to three of the prospective candidates.