Open council seat attracts political newcomers

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Only one Hawaii County Council seat will be open because of term limits next year, and two political neophytes are already planning to run for it.

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Only one Hawaii County Council seat will be open because of term limits next year, and two political neophytes are already planning to run for it.

Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, whose District 3 seat includes Keaau, Keaukaha, Kings Landing, Panaewa, Waiakea Houselots and Waiakea Uka, said he asked Sue Lee Loy if she’d consider running for his seat now that his eight years are coming to a close.

Onishi’s former legislative aide Micah Alameda is also planning to run for the seat. Alameda, 27, who also served two years as legislative aide and committee clerk for state Sen. Gil Kahele, D-Hilo, resigned from Onishi’s office Sept 3.

“For the past several years, I’ve been searching for someone who I can trust and will continue working hard to the standards that I have set for District 3,” Onishi said in a statement earlier this month. “I have known Sue for over 20 years and she would be the person to continue working hard for our district and island. She would continue to help our seniors and our children. I know her to be honest, trustworthy and a hard worker.”

Lee Loy, 45, is an independent contractor who provides planning research services.

She serves as member of the Hawaii County Water Board, and received clearance from the Board of Ethics on Sept. 9 to continue her work on the board while she runs for office.

“It’s been a real grass-roots movement,” Lee Loy said of her decision to enter politics by running for the council seat.

Alameda, a Kamehameha Schools graduate who was raised in Keaukaha and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo, had originally planned on going into hospitality or public relations. He said joining the Young Democrats and his tenure in Honolulu working for Kahele opened his eyes to the political process.

But trying to help Hilo constituents from Honolulu was not the ideal route for him, Alameda said Friday. He sees the County Council office as the front-line in serving people in the district, he said.

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“I moved home to take a position working in the district,” he said. “I really wanted to get my hands in it.”

Candidate filing begins in February, with the primary election set for Aug. 13.