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Stories about Hawaii

Keith Hayashi assumes office as interim superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education

Keith Hayashi assumed office as interim superintendent of Hawaii’s state department of education on Aug. 1. The Hawaii State Board of Education in June appointed Hayashi to serve as the interim superintendent, after outgoing superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced she would not seek a contract renewal. Hayashi will serve in the role until the Board selects a permanent replacement.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead our public school system during this transition,” Hayashi said in a statement released by the Department of Education. “This is such a critical time for the Department and I am committed to connecting with our schools, complex areas and state office leaders to ensure that we are well prepared for the upcoming school year.”

At the time he was appointed, Hayashi was the principal of Waipahu High School, a position he had held since 2009. This is Hayashi’s second time serving as interim state superintendent; he previously held the interim role in July 2017, before the Board appointed Christina Kishimoto to the position. Hayashi also served as interim deputy state superintendent from March to June 2017.

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Christina Kishimoto

Hawaii Superintendent of Education

Superintendent of Schools (State Executive Office)



Hawaii governor appoints Linda Ann Ha‘i Clark to state House of Representatives

Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) appointed Linda Ann Ha‘i Clark (D) to the District 13 seat of the Hawaii state House on July 23. The seat became vacant in June when Ige appointed former state Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D) to the Senate to succeed Jamie Kalani English (D). Clark will serve the remainder of DeCoite’s term, which was set to expire in November 2022.

“I am extremely grateful for the appointment. I’d like to thank Gov. Ige for entrusting me. I’d also like to thank Sen. Lynn DeCoite and outgoing Sen. Kalani English for their years of service. I look forward to meeting my constituents as soon as possible,” Clark said in a statement released by Gov. Ige’s office.

At the time she was appointed, Clark worked as an independent process server for the State of Hawaii’s Child Support Enforcement Agency. 

Hawaii is one of ten states that fill state legislative vacancies through gubernatorial appointment.

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Lynn DeCoite

State legislative vacancies, 2021



Lynn DeCoite appointed to Hawaii State Senate, creating vacancy in state House

Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) appointed Lynn DeCoite (D) to the District 7 seat in the Hawaii State Senate on June 17. The seat became vacant in May when former state Sen. Jamie Kalani English (D) retired due to the long-term health effects of a past COVID-19 infection. DeCoite to serve the remainder of Kalani English’s term, which was set to expire in November 2022.

At the time she was appointed, DeCoite was serving her fourth term in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Governor Ige appointed DeCoite to represent District 13 in February 2015, after former state Rep. Mele Carroll (D) resigned. DeCoite won re-election in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

DeCoite’s appointment to the state Senate creates a vacancy in the state House. When a vacancy occurs in the Hawaii legislature, the governor must appoint a replacement within 60 days after the vacancy happens. The governor selects from a list of three prospective candidates submitted by the political party that last held the vacant seat.

Hawaii is one of ten states that fill state legislative vacancies through gubernatorial appointment.

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Hawaii State Senate Majority Leader Jamie Kalani English resigns

Hawaii State Senate Majority Leader Jamie Kalani English (D-7) resigned on May 1, citing the long-term health effects of a past COVID-19 infection. 

English said he contracted COVID-19 in November 2020. “After many discussions with my doctors, talks with those close to me and careful thought, I am announcing my retirement from the Hawai‘i State Senate, effective May 1, 2021,” English said in a press release. “Having been deemed a long hauler, I was diagnosed with long-term effects of COVID-19. My new normal will require me to address some of the challenges left to my short and long-term memory and other cognitive issues derived from the virus. These challenges have placed a number of things into perspective for me, including the need to take better care of my health.”

English represented Hawaii’s 7th state senate district from 2000 to 2021. He ran unopposed in the 2014 and 2018 general elections. He served as the Hawaii Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021. The state Senate appointed Sen. Dru Kanuha (D-3) as the new majority leader on May 5.

If there is a vacancy in the Hawaii State Legislature, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement. The political party committee that last held the vacant seat has 30 days after the vacancy to submit a list of three recommended candidates to the governor, who selects from among those three.

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Kaiali’i Kahele resigns from Hawaii state Senate to join U.S. House of Representatives

Kaiali’i Kahele (D) resigned from the Hawaii state Senate on Dec. 16 after being elected to Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele defeated Joseph Akana (R), 63% to 31%, on Nov. 3. Kahele will be sworn in to the U.S. House on Jan. 3, 2021.

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Kahele to the District 1 seat in February 2016 to replace Gil Kahele (D), Kahele’s deceased father. Kaiali’i Kahele represented District 1 from 2016 to 2020. 

According to Hawaii law, the governor appoints a replacement within 60 days when a vacancy occurs in the state Senate. The political party that last held the vacant seat has 30 days to provide the governor with a list of three prospective candidates. The party to submit a list of prospective candidates. According to a report in Big Island Video News, “The selection body will meet electronically on Wednesday, December 23, at 6:00 p.m. to identify three names to forward on to the Governor.” 

As of Dec. 21, there have been 129 state legislative vacancies in 41 states during 2020. Ninety-seven (97) of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 129 vacancies, 71 are Republican, and 58 are Democratic. Republicans have filled 49 vacancies, while Democrats have filled 48. 

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Todd Eddins joins Hawaii Supreme Court 

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

Todd Eddins was sworn in to the Hawaii Supreme Court as an associate justice on Dec. 11. Founded in 1959, the Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has five judgeships. Of the five current justices, Democratic governors appointed four, and a Republican governor—Linda Lingle—appointed one. 

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Eddins on Oct. 23 to replace retired Justice Richard W. Pollack. Pollack retired on June 30 when he met the mandatory retirement age of 70. The Hawaii State Senate unanimously confirmed Eddins on Nov. 19. Before joining the court, Eddins was a judge of the O`ahu First Circuit Court from 2017 to 2020.

Hawaii’s supreme court justices are selected using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection. The Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission forwards a list of candidates to the governor, who then appoints a candidate who must then be confirmed by the Hawaii State Senate. Justices serve renewable 10-year terms, which are approved or denied by the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission. 

Eddins was Gov. Ige’s first nomination to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Upon nominating Eddins, Gov. Ige said, “Judge Eddins has the vast knowledge and experience necessary to serve on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. He has the respect of his peers and I know that he will be a welcome addition to the state’s highest court.”  

In 2020, there have been 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, one vacancy occurred when a justice was not retained, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements. As of Dec. 14, 20 of those vacancies have been filled.  

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Hawaii senate confirms Eddins to state supreme court

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

On November 19, 2020, the Hawaii State Senate confirmed Todd Eddins to succeed Justice Richard W. Pollack on the Hawaii Supreme Court. Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Eddins to the court on October 23, 2020. Eddins is Ige’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

The seat became vacant when Pollack retired on June 30, 2020, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.

Under Hawaii law, state supreme court justices are selected through the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate.

Eddins became a judge of the O’ahu First Circuit of Hawaii in 2017 after being appointed by Gov. Ige on February 9. The Hawaii State Senate confirmed Eddins on March 3, 2017.

Before his appointment to the O’ahu First Circuit, Eddins worked as a trial lawyer for the Office of the Public Defender. He also served as a clerk for Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Eddins earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William & Mary and a J.D. from the University of Hawaii, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawaii Law Review.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of October 2020, three judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor, and one judge on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.

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At least four mayoral offices changed partisan control in the 100 largest cities Nov. 3

Twenty-nine of the 100 largest U.S. cities held mayoral elections in 2020. Of the 24 elections called so far, four party changes have taken place, with Republicans losing three offices and Democrats losing one. Democrats and independents each flipped two offices:

• In Honolulu, Hawaii, independent Rick Blangiardi won the open seat. Democratic mayor Kirk Caldwell was term-limited.

• In Irvine, California, Democrat Farrah Khan defeated incumbent Christina Shea (R).

• In San Diego, California, Democrat Todd Gloria won the open seat. The incumbent, Kevin Faulconer (R), was term-limited.

• In Scottsdale, Arizona, independent David Ortega won the open seat. Incumbent Jim Lane (R) was term-limited.

In those four cities—and in most of the nation’s largest cities—mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Democratic mayors oversaw 64 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2020.

In 15 of the 29 cities that held elections in 2020, the incumbent was Republican at the start of 2020. Twelve incumbents were Democratic, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan.

Mayoral races in Riverside and Stockton, California, remain undecided. December runoff elections for mayor will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Dec. 5); Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 12); and El Paso, Texas (Dec. 15).

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Hawaii governor appoints Eddins to state supreme court

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Todd Eddins to the Hawaii Supreme Court on October 23, 2020. Pending confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate, Eddins will succeed Justice Richard W. Pollack, who retired on June 30, 2020, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years. Eddins is Ige’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

Under Hawaii law, state supreme court justices are selected through the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate.

Eddins became a judge of the O’ahu First Circuit of Hawaii in 2017 after being appointed by Gov. Ige on February 9. The Hawaii State Senate confirmed Eddins on March 3, 2017.

Before his appointment to the O’ahu First Circuit, Eddins worked as a trial lawyer for the Office of the Public Defender. He also served as a clerk for Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Eddins earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a J.D. from the University of Hawaii, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawaii Law Review.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of October 2020, three judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor, and one judge on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.

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Finalists for open Hawaii Supreme Court seat announced September 29, Gov. Ige to make selection by October 29

Hawaii’s judicial nominating commission published its list of four nominees for a state supreme court vacancy on September 29, 2020. The nominees are Judge Todd Eddins, David Forman, Judge Darolyn Lendio Heim, and Benjamin Lowenthal. Gov. David Ige (D) will appoint one of the four to the state supreme court with consent from the state Senate. Ige has 30 days to select his nominee after receiving the list.

The vacancy occurred when Justice Richard W. Pollack reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 years and retired on June 30, 2020. Pollack joined the court in 2012. His replacement will be the first nomination Gov. Ige makes to the five-member state supreme court. The most recent appointment to the court was made in 2014 by Ige’s predecessor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D).

In Hawaii, state supreme court justices are chosen through the assisted appointment method. Under this appointment method, Hawaii’s judicial nominating committee recommends four to six potential nominees to the governor, who chooses a nominee from the list. The governor’s nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate. Justices serve 10-year terms. If they wish to serve additional terms, they must stand for retention before the state judicial nominating commission. 

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia use the assisted appointment method for their courts of last resort. Seven states use gubernatorial or legislative appointments, 15 use nonpartisan elections, and six use partisan elections.

As of October 1, 2020, 21 state supreme court seats had been vacated in 2020, 10 vacancies had been filled, and 11 remained vacant.

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Assisted appointment (judicial selection)
Hawaii Supreme Court
Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission