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First Term House of Representative Members Talk About Their First Session

James Gonser, House Communications Office

There are 5 new Democrats in the State House of Representatives serving their first term. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka caught up with them and filed this report.    


Christopher Todd was appointed by the Governor to the fill the late Clift Tsuji’s House District 2 seat representing Keaukaha, Waiakea and central Hilo on the Big Island.   He says he’s learned a lot and has developed good relationships in the House.

“What I’d like to do going into the next session is to really push tax reform initiatives as well as some very specific and targeted education reform bills that could address some things we can all agree on.   If we can find some common ground that teachers, community and the administration can kinda agree on and deal with some of the inefficiencies.  I think that’s my goal for the next session.”

Nadine Nakamura, a former County managing director and County Council member, won the House District 14 seat on Kaua’i, representing Hanalei, Kilauea and Kapa’a.   She says traffic is the top issue on Kaua’i , followed by invasive species.

“I introduced the bill called the rose ring parakeet bill. One of the problems on Kaua’i affecting farmers, the visitor industry and the realtor industry is the proliferation of rose ring parakeets on the island.  So we need to get a handle on it before it gets out of control like the coqui frog problem on the Big Island.”

On O’ahu, Daniel Holt won a crowded primary race against 4 other Democrats in District 29, Kalihi, Palama and Chinatown.  He served as legislative director for two Senators and co-introduced the earned income tax credit bill for low income residents.

“My district has a lot of issues.  You know, homeless is obviously the easiest one as I drive to work every day and I see the tents on the side of the road.  I also see development as a big issue for our district.  OCCC is right across the street but it affects the people in my community.  Mayor Wright Housing is being redeveloped.  The proposed rail line comes down Dillingham.  And so, it’s making sure our community has a say in all of that.”

Cedric Gates challenged and won against an incumbent in District 44, Wai’anae, Makaha, and Ma’ili.   He worked as a City Council, Legislative and Congressional aide.  He introduced nearly 20 bills this session.

“One bill actually just passed out that would allow inmates to receive their ID, their social security card and birth certificate.  And my hope is that this will allow them to re-enter society more effectively and not go through many of the bumps out of incarceration.”

Sean Quinlan represents District 47,  Waialua, Punalu’u and Ka’a’awa on O’ahu’s north shore.   He was a legislative intern and is focused on traffic issues.

“It’s always going to be the highway.  Laniakea, the traffic there is a huge issue.  But just as big of an issue are Ha’ula, Ka’a’awa; the road keeps falling into the ocean.  Every year we spend millions of dollars to put medium sized rocks and do a mediocre job of repairing the roadway.  It’s something that we have to start addressing:  the long term security and safety of  Kamehameha Highway.”

All 5 Democratic Representatives plan to advance their district agendas next legislative session and all plan to run for office in 2018.   Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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