Political Radar


January 13th, 2014

Hawaii County Democrats on Monday released the names of the candidates they forwarded to Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill a state House vacancy.

Abercrombie chose Richard Creagan, a doctor, to replace former Rep. Denny Coffman, who resigned for family reasons.

Michael Matsukawa, an attorney, and Steve Sakala, a farmer, were the other candidates recommended by the party. Nine candidates had applied.

The Star-Advertiser asked the governor's office last week for the three finalists before the governor appointed Creagan. The governor's office declined to release the names and referred questions to Hawaii County Democrats.

2 Responses to “Names”

  1. Guy:

    Why media's obsession with people not selected and those who will not be serving? Makes me not want to put my name in the hat for next time, or even nominate someone else.

  2. Bart Dame:

    Up until a few years ago, the Governor had the sole and arbitrary power to make appointments to fill vacancies. Governor Lingle abused that authority by appointing a former Republican candidate to a seat vacated by a Democrat. It was cynical and shocking. It "crossed a line" and provoked the Democratic Party to push for a change which allowed them to pre-screen applicants and then nominate three qualified persons to the Governor for his (or her) consideration.

    Because the public, through their legislature, approved this change, the Democratic and Republican parties, in my view, have an imperative to be transparent and trustworthy in their nomination procedures, to demonstrate they are worthy of holding such power.

    While this change was made to Hawaii statute a few years ago, the question of what might happen should one of our US Senators vacate their seat provided a strong incentive to fix the previous system. Those unhappy with the parties playing a role, should wrestle with the kinds of considerations, and temptations, a Governor would have to deal with in deciding who to appoint to a vacant US senate seat, for instance. Now imagine the considerations if the Governor must appoint someone from the other political party. How likely are they to appoint someone who would be a strong candidate for approval by the voters in the next election? The participation of the Party ensures more transparency and a dispersion of the appointing power. It ensures no weak or "fake" party member can be chosen by a Governor, particularly of the other party.

    I think the Democratic Party's SCC did a very creditable job when they nominated Brian Schatz, Colleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina to the Governor for his consideration. And I am grateful the Big Island district council has released the names of those who were nominated. I like Richard Creagan. But I also am intrigued by the idea Michael Matsukawa might have gotten appointed instead. Good work!

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