Political Radar

Palolo v. Pauoa

April 23rd, 2014

The state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Circuit Court can hear a legal challenge to state Rep. Calvin Say’s residency.

Six voters in Say’s Palolo state House district had questioned his residency, arguing that the Democrat actually lives with his family in Pauoa Valley.

Circuit Judge Karen Nakasone dismissed the challenge last year after holding that the Honolulu city clerk -- and not the court -- had jurisdiction over whether Say was a registered voter in the Palolo district. The state Constitution requires House lawmakers to be qualified voters in the districts they represent.

The appeals court determined that Nakasone was in error and that the Circuit Court does have jurisdiction over whether lawmakers are eligible under the Constitution to serve in the Legislature.

The appeals court sent the case back to Circuit Court for trial.

“It has been an open secret that Calvin Say has lived for years at his wife's family's Pacific Heights home,” Lance Collins, a Maui attorney representing the voters challenging Say, said in a statement. “His children attended local schools there and his wife and now adult children are all registered to vote at the Pacific Heights address. Nevertheless, Say claims residency in Palolo because of his ownership a vacant house along 10th Avenue.”

Three earlier challenges to Say’s voter registration failed.

Say was the longest-serving House speaker -- 14 years -- before losing a leadership battle last year to House Speaker Joseph Souki, dissident Democrats and minority Republicans. Say has served in the House since 1977, and he plans to run for re-election this year.

Many of Say’s allies believe the challenges to Say’s residency were politically motivated to undermine Say’s reign as speaker. Say has not denied that he shuttled between homes for family reasons, but has maintained that the Palolo home is his residence.

“That’s absolutely right,” Say said.

Say declined to comment on the specifics of the appeals court ruling, which he had not seen, but said he considers the repeated challenges to his residency part of the price of public life.

6 Responses to “Palolo v. Pauoa”

  1. innocent observer:

    can't a person have two primary residences? If it was an "open secret" that he really did not live in palolo, then why did not the constituents vote him out? perhaps they felt he was doing a credible job for them so they really did not care where is actually lived. don't believe that this should be a big deal. this seems to be a moot point, even if the law requires one to reside in the district that he represents, it is possible one can have two residences. after all, say is losing money since he is not renting out the palolo residence. surely, people has better things to do than raise a minor issue that constituents are not contesting.

  2. hossana:

    Another reason why we must stop voting for these incumbents who are arrogant and take advantage of the situation....Hanabusa was another politician that was out of district and I'm sure there are others, also.

  3. Kolea:

    The law is different for state legislators and for members of congress. State legislators are required under law to reside in their district. Members of congress are NOT required to do so. If Speaker Say does not live in his district, he appears to be breaking the law. Voters might PREFER a congressperson to live within the district. Or, as in the case of Hanabusa, a majority might decide the residency is not as important as the fact they are preferable to her last opponent.

    And, in the case of Hanabusa, she spent most of her waking hours in the First Congressional district, working right in its urban core. It is absurd to pretend because she slept a couple of miles into the Second Congressional District that she did not understand the issues of the First CD. Only a rabid partisan would pretend there was really an issue over Hanabusa's residence.

    If state law were different and did not explicitly require a legislator to live in the district, the matter would be totally in the hand of the voters. But if he IS breaking the law, then the scofflaw attitude becomes a legitimate issue. He writes the laws but doesn't feel compelled to follow them? That is an issue.

  4. Manoa_Fisherman:

    Brian Schatz represented Makiki in the House of Representatives, but appeared to live in the Kaimuki area. Allegedly, he appeared on title to a home in the Kaimuki area and supposedly was residing there because he was taking the "homeowners exemption" which requires ownership and is occupied as the "owner's principal home".

  5. Ella:

    Manoa_Fisherman, I never knew that Brian Schatz also had a residency violation issue when in the House of Representatives! The things you learn reading Political Radar and the comments! Thank you!

  6. Especially Incognito:

    Maybe they should have asked Hanabusa for her birth certificate..
    Can't be born in one district and live in another...Now she lives
    in Washington District..or renting..

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