Kauai politician Henry K. Aki

Kauai politician Henry K. Aki (1891-1967) served as a Republican senator from Kauai in the Territorial Legislature during 1925 through 1932 and was elected to the Kauai Board of Supervisors in 1942.

During his successful bid for election to the Territorial Senate of 1925-1926, Aki had voiced support for Kauai politician Charles Atwood Rice (1876-1964), who dominated territorial politics for many years as chairman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Rice, along with his brother Sheriff William Henry Rice, consequently backed Aki’s election bid during 1924 by directing their political machine — comprised of five deputy sheriffs, one for each of Kauai’s districts, and from 25 to 30 police officers — to campaign for Aki, particularly among Kauai’s plantation workers, with whom Rice enjoyed a large following.

As Charlie Fern (1892-1995), legendary editor of The Garden Island newspaper, once said: “If you had Charles Rice behind you, you were elected. That was it.”

However, in 1932, Rice withdrew his backing of Aki in retaliation for Aki having voted against him during the 1931 session and the 1932 special session of the Legislature.

Although Aki objected by stating that the “The Rice political machine has supported me all these years. Why desert me now? I am the people’s man,” the election result was predictable.

Aki suffered defeat, while Elsie Wilcox (1879-1954) and Rice won election to the Territorial Senate of 1933-1934 from Kauai.

In 1936, Henry Aki announced he would run against Elsie Wilcox in the October primary, while supporting Rice for chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

Voters found him jovial and personally likable, but the also-popular Wilcox beat him two to one, and she and Rice were elected to the Territorial Senate of 1937-1938.

Mr. Henry K. Aki and his wife, school teacher Lucy Kahumea Aki, had seven sons and four daughters.

One son, Patrick Aki, was a POW of the Japanese during World War II; another son, Raymond X. Aki, was elected to Kauai Board of Supervisors in 1959 and served as its chairman from 1961 to 1964.

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