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Kahele appointed to late father’s seat in state Senate

MEDIA RELEASE

Gov. David Ige has appointed Kaialii (Kai) Kahele to his late father’s state Senate seat.

Sen. Gil Kahele represented Senate district one which encompasses the greater Hilo area, when he died Jan. 26, 2016.

“Kai has extensive community support and is committed to completing the work of his father. He has a broad vision for the future of this district and for all of Hawaii Island that will serve his constituents well,” Ige said.

“I thank the high-quality candidates who were willing to serve and the Senate district one Nominating Committee for working so quickly to get the names to me,” he said.

“My father led by example, and community service was part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am honored to carry on his legislative initiatives. In addition, I intend to focus on job creation by strengthening workforce opportunities and small business in Hilo and the state, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for Hawaii Community College and UH-Hilo,” Kahele said.

Kahele lives in Hilo where he is a major in the Hawaii Air National Guard and a combat veteran C-17 instructor pilot.

He has been honored many times for his military service. In 2005 he was awarded a National Defense Service Medal and a USAF Air Medal for combat missions flown in Afghanistan.

Most recently Kahele received the Guard Officer of the Year award at Hickam Air Force Base (Feb. 2016).

He is also a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines, a UH-Hilo adjunct faculty member and the executive director of the nonprofit Paa Pono Milolii.

In 2015, Kai was a crew member on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s canoe Hikianalia.

Kahele is a graduate of Hilo High School and UH-Manoa where he earned a B.A. in education while playing on the UH-Manoa Men’s Volleyball team as an outside hitter. He was named Most Inspirational Player in 1997.

Kahele will take office once the state senate qualifies him and administers the oath of office.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will administer the Oath of Office at the opening of the Senate Regular Session on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

Kahele was appointed to represent Senate District 1, which comprises the greater Hilo area.

The Hawaii State Senate leadership welcomes the appointment of Kaialii Kahele to the District 1 Senate seat.

“I congratulate Kai on his appointment to the Senate,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English. “I know he has the best interests of the community at heart, and we will work with him to ensure his transition to the Senate is quick and seamless. I know Kai was well-trained by his father to handle the work of the Senate.”

“We welcome Kai to the Senate,” said Senate President, Ronald D. Kouchi. “I know he holds many of the strong convictions and commitment to community service as that of his father. I look forward to working with Kai in his new role as Senator for the first district.”

“I appreciate the work the staff of the late Senator Kahele has been doing to serve the constituents of District 1 during this time and I know they will be important in continuing to provide support for Kai as we move forward this Session,” Kouchi said.

Kahele will serve on the following Senate committees: Higher Education and the Arts (HEA), Education (EDU), Judiciary and Labor (JDL), and Tourism and International Affairs (TSI).

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