Thank goodness for ambition: A number of openings emerged this election, due to incumbents vacating seats to run for higher office — and that’s for the good, allowing some new blood into our local legislative bodies.
One main case in point was the clamor for lieutenant governor, in which Josh Green, Jill Tokuda and Will Espero all left comfy state Senate seats. They will be succeeded, respectively, by Dru Kanuha, Jarrett Keohokalole and Kurt Fevella. The latter will be a newbie to the Legislature as well as, gasp, the Senate’s sole Republican. Fevella beat Matt LoPresti, whose vacated state House seat will now be filled by Rida Cabanilla.
The 1st Congressional District race, meanwhile, lured Kaniela Ing and Beth Fukumoto away from their state House seats — and that made way for Tina Wildberger and Val Okimoto, respectively. Okimoto will help her fellow Republicans retain a five-member presence in the House; meanwhile, Andria Tupola, who gave up her House seat to run for governor, will be replaced by Stacelynn Eli.
Other newcomers to the 2019 Legislature include Sharon Moriwaki and David Tarnas, both of whom beat incumbents in the Democratic primary (she over Brickwood Galuteria, he over Cindy Evans).
Neophyte representation also will come to Wahiawa via Amy Perruso, who ousted incumbent Lei Learmont; and to Windward districts, with Lisa Kitagawa and Scot Matayoshi filling vacancies left by Keohokalole and Ken Ito, respectively, who both vied for Tokuda’s Senate opening.
All told, there will be about a dozen fresh faces in the upcoming Legislature. Hardly a wave of change — but for low-turnout, incumbent-entrenched Hawaii, not bad. Let’s hope new blood will bring new, good ideas.
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