HILO — A contender for the County Council District 8 seat being vacated by Karen Eoff is poised to announce his candidacy.
Holeka Inaba, 25, said he’s been talking with Eoff, who’s term-limited for the North Kona seat and can’t run for re-election when her term expires next December. He’s also sought advice from state Sen. Dru Kanuha, a former District 7 councilman, as well as Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas and South Kona/Ka’‘u Councilwoman Maile David, he said Tuesday.
“I’m running for the community that has shaped me into the person that I am today. I’ve always had a career interest in education, however, recently I’ve felt the responsibility to serve my community in government,” Inaba said in a statement. “Ultimately, I believe our community deserves a leader who has unwavering integrity, the ability to give straight answers, and the capacity to make educated decisions.”
Inaba said he will engage with the community first and identify the concerns of the residents in his district. He said he’s dedicated to understanding the multitude of perspectives on various issues so that he can identify the best solution moving forward. He committed to working with all county council members in a collaborative effort to support the county.
District 8 runs from Mauna Lani Drive and Queen Kaahumanu Highway south along the coast to Old Mamalahoa Trail north of Kailua-Kona, and extends east to the Pohakuloa Training Area boundary. It includes Kailua View Estates, Malulani Gardens, Hualalai Farms, Keopu Mauka, Kona Heights, Kealakehe, Honokohau, Kaloko, Kohanaiki, Kalaoa, Keahole, Makalei, Makalawena, Puuanahulu and Waikoloa Beach Resort.
Eoff said the campaign is early and she’s not ready to endorse a candidate, but she said she encouraged Inaba to run.
“I’ve known him since he was very young. He consulted with me and I encouraged him,” Eoff said. “It’s really great that we have a chance for new members of our community to come forward to lead.”
Candidate filing runs Feb. 3 to June 2.
Inaba is the son of Don and Kawehi Inaba, the founder of Mokulele Airlines and a former director of the county Department of Research and Development. The younger Inaba currently works as a communications consultant for his mother’s business, Kupa‘a Business Planners.
He interned with Irvine, California-based AcuFocus Inc., served as the social media manager for Ke Kula o Ehunukaimalino Hawaiian immersion school in Kealakekua and worked as a donor relations assistant at Chapman University in Orange, California, where he earned a B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies and Communication Studies and a M.S. in Health and Strategic Communication.
Previously, he attended Kamehameha Schools Kapalama High School on Oahu.
Inaba currently serves on the boards of Uluhao O Hualalai, a nonprofit focused on cultural and ethnic awareness, and the West Hawaii Mediation Center.