Tuesday, Dec. 05, 2023 |
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There’s a new House district in town, and four candidates have lined up to compete for it.
House District 6, running down the coast from Kailua-Kona to Honaunau, was created by the state Reapportionment Commission when the island’s population grew enough to warrant an eighth House seat this year. The renumbered district includes Honaunau, Napoopoo, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Keauhou, Holualoa and parts of Kailua-Kona.
Running for the seat are Democratic candidates Ilya Barannikov, Kirstin Kahaloa and Lono Mack. The winner of the Aug. 13 primary will square off with Republican candidate Jonathan Kennealy in the general election.
Barannikov runs the non-profit arts-based mentorship program Hawaii-Fi, which aims to target young underprivileged youth and give them access to inspiring local creatives. He emigrated to the United States when he was 7 years old, fleeing the communist regime in Russia. A designer, builder and cabinet-maker, Barannikov also created large art installations for numerous public events and private owners worldwide. His top three priorities are affordable housing, education and environmental protection. His website is ilyaforkona.com .
“I’m running for office because big business and special interests have co-opted so much of our political system and I want to represent the average person in Hawaii, which is why I’ve taken the ‘Our Hawaii Pledge.’ I am the only candidate in District 6 who has promised not to take any special interest money, either now or into the future,” Barannikov said.
Kirstin Kahaloa most recently worked as portfolio manager of sustainable industry development for Kamehameha Schools. She’s previously served as community engagement lead for the Blue Zones Project, legislative aide for state Sen. Dru Kanuha and executive director for the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. Kahaloa’s work and passion center around education and advocacy for community well-being. She’s been endorsed by a number of business and labor groups. Her website is www.kahaloaforkona.com .
“Keeping Hawaii Island a place that my family can proudly call home is a driving force behind all my efforts to create a healthy economy, a healthy community, to grow more local food, and to keep our world sustainable for generations to come. In running to represent our new State House District 6 at the Capitol, I commit to bringing my experience to my service, and working hard to keep Kona a special place,” Kahaloa said.
Lono Mack was born and raised in Kailua-Kona and admitted that his “path forward was uncertain at best.”
“But thankfully, he had parents who stuck with him, and met a mentor that showed him the knowledge of business,” Mack said in a statement while referring to himself in the third person. “Through their belief and his own determination, Lono got his life on track, graduated, and eventually built his own successful business. Through the lessons taught by his mentor, Lono developed his mission statement: to positively affect the lives of the people of Hawaii. That led him to public service, where he is today running as a Democrat for the Hawaii House of Representatives.”
Mack previously ran the nonprofit 2020 Vision LLC that he formed in 2014.
Jonathan Kennealy, as the sole Republican on the ballot, will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the Nov. 8 general election. Kennealy, a former military police soldier in the Army, lists as priorities simplifying the state tax code, tackling political corruption and increasing accountability of public officials. His website is www.jonathankennealy.com .
“We as the people of Hawaii have fallen upon hard times, with the COVID-19 pandemic taking some of our family members, the state and federal government regulations suffocating many of our freedoms, our economy crashing, cost of goods skyrocketing, and many family members being forced to leave our home of Hawaii; but we are not victims,” Kennealy said on his website. “We will not allow others to force this victim mentality upon us. We are koa (warriors). We will rise up and be stronger together, helping each other as we have always done.”
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