Tokioka changes parties for House run

There will be at least one vacancy on the Kaua’i County Council to be filled at the general election in November.

Kaua’i County Councilmember James Kunane “Jimmy” Tokioka announced he will switch parties, from Republican to Democrat, and run for the state House of Representatives District 15 seat (Lihu’e-Koloa) being vacated by Lihu’e Democrat Ezra Kanoho after this session.

Kanoho previously announced he will be retiring after completing his 10th consecutive two-year term, and has endorsed Tokioka to become his successor.

“Six years ago I asked Councilmember Tokioka if he was considering running in District 15. His response to me was, ‘Representative Kanoho, you and my dad worked together for many years at Hawaiian Telephone Company, and out of my respect to you and our families, I would never think of running against you for that seat,'” Kanoho said.

“I appreciated that gesture, and I know that with 10 years on the council behind him, Jimmy will make a fine state legislator,” said Kanoho.

“I am extremely pleased with Jimmy’s announcement, because he has proven himself by demonstrating the ability and commitment to serve the people of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau,” Kanoho continued.

“We are most elated with his decision to join the Democratic Party, and welcome him with open arms. I know that he has long harbored a strong interest to serve in the state Legislature, and very deeply appreciate the fact that he has deferred running only because of his respect and aloha for me,” said Kanoho.

“I feel very much comforted that some-one of Jimmy’s caliber will not only step in, but that he will perform exceedingly well. I ask the people of Kaua’i to join me in support of Jimmy Tokioka as Kaua’i’s candidate for the state representative from the 15th district.”

Tokioka has been a councilmember since 1996, serving five consecutive, two-year terms.

“Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many legislators throughout the state, and I’ve been encouraged by colleagues, friends and supporters to consider running for a statewide office,” said Tokioka.

For the past three years, Tokioka has been vice chair of the County Council. During his tenure on the council, Tokioka has served as chair of the following council committees: Intergovernmental Relations, Finance, Economic Development, and Planning.

He currently serves as chair of the Parks & Public Works Committee, and is the council’s representative to both the Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Presently, he is an executive board member for both HSAC and NACo.

“It’s been an honor to serve the people of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau for the past nine years, and I feel with the experience I’ve gained at the County Council, I’m now prepared to offer myself as a candidate at the state level,” said Tokioka.

When asked about Kanoho, Tokioka said, “Representative Kanoho has served the people of our state with the highest level of integrity and effectiveness. His accomplishments are unprecedented, and whoever follows him will have very large shoes to fill.”

When asked about what issues Tokioka would address if elected, he stated the obvious issues are the state Department of Education, the island’s infrastructure, and affordable housing.

Tokioka also stated that many people of this county do not feel comfortable going to public hearings or submitting written testimony. Tokioka said he wants to continue to be a voice for everyone, especially those who are not comfortable with the government process.

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