Richards to seek state Senate seat

Kohala Councilman Tim Richards is planning to forego a final term on the County Council to run for the District 4 Senate seat vacated when the state Reapportionment Commission redrew the boundary lines on the Big Island.

The redrawn Senate district boundaries, which still face one more vote by the Reapp-ortionment Commission before becoming law, have moved Sen. Lorraine Inouye’s home address from north Hawaii District 4 to Hilo District 1. The commission next meets Wednesday.


Richards, who can serve on the council two more years before he’s term-limited, assured his County Council District 9 constituents that he won’t be abandoning them. In fact, he said in a Facebook video message last month, all of District 9 is in Senate District 4, which runs from mauka Kona to Honomu under the latest reapportionment plan.

“I want to assure Council District 9 that I won’t forget my roots. I have long been an advocate for agriculture land management and stewardship water management and stewardship seeking energy development,” Richards said, adding he sought to move “to a bigger stage, pushing for a better economy and the self-reliant agriculture that we all talk about but really need to see.”

Meanwhile, Inouye, who, perched on the boundary line between the two districts, has served in both the Hilo District 1 as well as District 4, said she’ll definitely be running. In fact, she said, she considers District 1 “quite literally my hometown.”

“Aside from being senator for Hilo several years and also Hawaii Island mayor, there are projects we started in Hilo that the community needs and wants. Quite a few of these projects have not been completed and they are critical to the health, education, cultural and or economic well-being of Senate District 1,” Inouye said. “I am committed to getting those projects done. I honestly believe SD1 needs and deserves more effective representation.”

Sen. Laura Acasio, the incumbent in District 1, was appointed by Gov. David Ige in January to fill the vacancy left by U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele’s move to Congress. She intends to run for election, saying having the district expand north to Pepeekeo is a “great opportunity.”

“Food security is one of my top priorities, and this expansion north allows us to connect to more farming,” Acasio said. “It just lends itself as part of a great opportunity, expanding our district north.”

Inouye started in District 1 in 1998, serving for 10 years before stepping out in 2008 to run for a second mayoral term. She returned to the Senate, this time in District 4, after it was created following the 2010 census.

This won’t be the first time Inouye has been tossed into a district with an incumbent. In 2002, she prevailed over the late Sen. David Matsuura for the Hilo district.

All three candidates are Democrats.

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