Kapela earns Democratic nod for state House District 5 race

  • Jeanne Kapela

Jeanné Kapela secured a commanding victory over Colehour Bondera on Saturday for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the state’s 5th House District.

The seat, occupied by Richard Creagan since 2014, was up for grabs following Creagan’s June 3 decision to withdraw from the race. Kapela lost to Creagan in the 2018 primary election by a total of 487 votes.

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As expected, vote totals have been high in 2020. The state’s second printout recorded 4,645 votes in the district that stretches Kailua-Kona to Naalehu, topping 2018’s tally. Of those, Kapela has claimed 3,228 votes to Bondera’s 1,417.

The 25-year-old Kapela credited her victory to an inclusivity not seen in District 5’s history.

“Being the first woman, the first Native Hawaiian and the first person born and raised in the district, there is a level of inclusion that has never been there before,” said Kapela. “People responded in a way that they feel like their voice is being heard. In my campaign, that’s the number one thing that I’ve been focusing on: making sure everyone feels heard.”

Kapela recognized Bondera for running a spirited campaign.

“I want to congratulate my opponent for running a strong campaign and for his service to our community,” she said.

Kapela will move on to the Nov. 3 general election, where she’ll face Aloha Aina candidate Citlalli Johanna Decker and Libertarian Michael Last. As of the initial printout, Decker garnered 85 votes, while Last claimed 41.

There is no Republican candidate in the House District 5 race this year.

Should Kapela emerge victorious in the general election, she will have large shoes to fill; Creagan — a three-term incumbent — chaired the House Committee on Agriculture. Her primary focus will be on the economy, but Kapela insists there are a number of priorities on which she’s concentrating.

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“We need to diversify our economy,” said Kapela. “but also make sure we’re creating a Green New Deal, that we are fully funding our schools, that we are creating paid family leave, that we’re making sure that people, community members, keiki and kupuna feel heard, recognized and understood.”

In West Hawaii’s sixth and seventh districts, incumbents Nicole Lowen (D-North Kona) and David Tarnas (D-North Kona and South and North Kohala) will retain their seats after running unopposed in both the primary and general elections.

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