Dirty districting

I have a thing about political candidates running in districts where their residency is loose or worse.

The purpose of district representation is to have legislators and council members who can truly speak for the needs of the people in the district because they are one of them and have as much stake in the welfare of the district as their constituents.

If we’re going to allow candidates to easily parachute into districts in search of the best political opportunities for themselves, we may as well go back to at-large voting.

Obviously the voters don’t necessarily agree with me. Our last three open congressional seats have been won by candidates who didn’t live in the district in which they ran.

Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo easily won a City Council seat this year despite questions about her ties to the district, and in previous elections the late Duke Bainum won a council seat after moving into the district the day before the filing deadline and Charles Djou moved from Windward Oahu to East Honolulu to find an easier path to the council.

Which brings us to the current special election to replace Todd Apo in Council District I, where Makakilo residents Mel Kahele and Kioni Dudley admit to setting up quickie residences elsewhere in order to be eligible to run.

Kahele, who is using his daughter’s address, justifies himself by saying Makakilo used to be part of District I. And South America used to be connected to Africa.

Dudley rented an address after saying he was unable to find any other candidate actually living in the district who represents his concerns, a conceit that tells you something about his concerns.

Their residency is being challenged with the city clerk by one of the 12 other candidates, Matthew LoPresti, himself a short-timer in the district. It’s unlikely there will be a resolution  before the mail-in voting is done, leaving it to voters to sort things out.

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11 Comments on “Dirty districting”

  1. Eric Ryan Says:

    Great story, Dave. You missed one more carpetbagger, however. Willie Espero’s kid, Jason Espero, actually lives with his Mommy (Willie’s ex-wife) in Aiea. Jason’s grandparent’s (Willie’s folks) live in Soda Creek in Ewa Beach. Willie pretends to live there for residency, while actually living in an apartment in town with his girlfriend. Now, Willie’s kid, a chip off the old block, is pretending to live in Ewa Beach to qualify for the ballot. Fake residency by Hawaii politicians is a sickness which needs to be condemned by both major political parties, as well as the media. Thanks for doing your part.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Oh, well, re-apportionment will be a Page One thriller a couple of months from now. Maybe Council District One will crawl 200 feet inland along the coastline from Ka`ena Point out to Makapu`u.

    Maybe legislators should be picked by lottery – losers get to serve.

    Seriously, re-app will probably start in mid-2-late February. Get involved.

  3. Jeff Says:

    So what is the status of Colleen Hanabusa moving into CD1 as she promised to do if she won?

  4. hugh clark Says:

    I have long held districting and redistricting are politics at its rotten worst, whether you live in California or Texas where some strange geometric forms have evolved to create GOP friendly districts.

    The process is a double-edged sword that guarantees issues from the get go, from when the starting line is agreed to. Only the creators are happy in the end, even if they claim to have had no political motive. Apportionment and reapporintgment — do away with it and elect at large.

    Hwwaii Coouty had far better voter participation in elections in which all nine council members were chosen at large and they were a lot more responsible to the whole electorate. Some in the range of two times more than now.

    This island’s three separate state senate districts have little in common. The island was better served by the three at-large senators in the past. Even the late Sherwoood Greenwell, creator of single-member council districts, testified on behalf of at-large senatorial elections.

    And this rant does not even gp into the goofy “canoe districts” that defied rationale.

    Dave has well documented the mockery our recent Congress people have made of the Honolulu urban and NIsle seats. Hell, even the beloved Patsy Mink allegedly lived in a Keaukaha condo where no one ever spotted her in residence, except at election time.

    Let’s get real — and a lot more honest with one another.

  5. Kolea Says:


    Maui County still uses an odd hybrid form of voting, midway between at-large candidates and the dominant pattern. The candidates must (on paper, at least) reside in the district, but voters from across the county get to vote for them.

    I suspect the system worked well when the GOP-plantation elite dominated the island. Even if the workers were concentrated in one community enough to elect a (shudder) Democrat, the bosses could dilute the concentrated influence with voters from areas voters “knew their place” and voted as the masters dictated.

    Once the ILWU become a powerful force, it was suddenly in THEIR interest to preserve the system, particularly as snowbird voters began to cluster in certain newly developed areas.

    I believe a politician should live in the district which they are said to “represent.” And their election should depend upon their ability to maintain support in that community. It is odd if residents of Lanai chose one candidate, but another candidate proves to be more popular with voters from other parts of the county. What are the incentives for that “representative” to strengthen their ties with Lanai residents, listening to THEIR concerns, as opposed to hanging out in more densely populated areas like Wailuku-Kahului? Or bar-hopping in Lahaina?

    (NONE of this is an indictment of any particular politician.)

    As CWD points out, reapportionment is just around the corner. I suppose it is too late to get creative and start proposing multi-member districts as a means for ensuring a bit more diversity in the composition of the Lege?

    (Hey Dave, that might be a fun idea for a blog post!)

  6. Michael Says:

    lingle was mayor of Maui and she moved to Oahu to become Governor.

    I would not need to move to Hawaii
    just to give any 2 cents.

  7. charles Says:

    It’s a dilemma, no? If someone moves into a district solely to run for office and it’s pointed out time and time again that this person is a carpetbagger but the voters still vote for the person, then what?

    Are we saying we don’t trust the voters?

  8. Michael Says:

    “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”

  9. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    As for the Congressional representatives living outside their districts, that is a national issue and not one we can address here.

    Members of the US House of Representatives are not required to live in the districts they represent – only the state.

    Even though Ed Case was elected to the US House to represent the Second Congressional District while residing in Manoa, by early March, 2003, four months after his election, he and his family had bought a house in Kane`ohe and were – and still are – residing there.

    Although some prog-libs dislike Ed for his political positions, he came back to Hawai`i practically every single month during the four years he was in Congress and held dozens of community meetings. I don’t ever remember seeing Patsy Mink at any Windward O`ahu event not directly connected to a campaign event.

    Mazie has been barely better but at least she shows up in the Second Congressional District here on O`ahu once or twice a year. I don’t know about the Neighbor Islands

    Back in 2001, I attended all state re-apportionment commission meetings here on O`ahu and all but one City & County of Honolulu re-apportionment commission meetings.

    Re the state commission: Practically the first decision made was to do away with the “canoe districts” although later on, balancing the onepersononevote concept got pretty difficult in all four counties.

    Another decision made in 2001 and which will be high on the upcoming agendas will be cutting out an existing district altogether and re-drafting the boundary lines in order to create a new district out in West O`ahu.

    My prediction is that David’s and my district (District 49) will be sliced into four districts and a new one created out in the Kapolei area. Most likely David and I will be in District 51 while the area around Kailua High School and Maunawili will be put into District 50 and the Kane`ohe portion of our district will be put into Districts 47 and 48. all would be re-numbered District 48/49/50/51.

    With respect to the rules about residency, I believe that the current requirement for filing papers is that one must reside in the district at the time nomination papers are filed. However, what “reside in the district” means has not yet been clarified. A bill last session to require a year’s residency got quickly killed – and rightly so.


    On a somewhat but not completely un-related subject, I urge that all the regulars here visit the ISLAND INNOVATION FUND website at http://www.islandinnovation.org and review the more than 180 concept proposals for funding – including ours on Page 7 – which I am sure you’ll be able to pick out given its name.

    The ISLAND INNOVATION FUND has been underwritten by social entrepreneurs Pierre and Pam Omidyar and administered by the Hawai`i Community foundation.

    However, unlike other grant apps, this one encourages collaboration amongst by both the applicants as well as the public.

    Everyone is welcome to visit the website, to register, to scroll through the various proposed project concepts in subjects as diverse as children’s gardens to economic development to recycling improvements to providing elder care services, to make comments & suggestions, and to think of ways to get involved even if the project isn’t funded by the ISLAND INNOVATION FUND.

    Unfortunately, the concept proposals are not sorted by topic or island or alphabetically so you really do have to look through all 19 pages to find those which might resonate with you.

    After the Collaboration phase ends at 5 pm, Thursday, December 23, 2010, all 180+ concepts will be vetted through a similar process as all other Hawai‘i Community Foundation grant applications. Concepts that best meet the five criteria laid out in the Guidelines will be invited to submit full-on proposals.

  10. WooWoo Says:

    Off-topic: Can Garrett Toguchi possibly be any more weaselly? He was just on KITV talking about the proposed school closings… He wasted no time blaming the legislature.

  11. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Interesting. I ran against Garrett in the special BOE election back in 2002. He creamed me but I have no regrets because it made me appreciate what it takes to run for office. Wonder how bad I’d be by now?

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