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Isle population up to 1.4M

Ewa Gentry, Hawaii island and Maui see significant gains

By Gene Park

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:52 a.m. HST, Feb 25, 2011

Hawaii's population grew by about 12.3 percent to 1,360,301 people, with Hawaii and Maui counties seeing the largest jumps over the past decade, according to 2010 census data released this week.

Hawaii island's population grew by 36,402 to 185,079, a 24.5 percent jump. On Maui the population grew by 26,740 to 154,834, a 20.9 percent jump.

The latest census figures show that Hawaii is still far from adding a third congressional district. And the population growth will have little effect on local voting districts.

"There's likely to be some (increase in) legislators out toward the Leeward part of the island here, and possibly on the neighbor islands," said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii professor of political science.

The Ewa Gentry area saw the largest percentage growth — 359.4 percent — out of all areas in the state. In 2000 there were 4,939. By last year there were 22,690 people.

Urban Honolulu is the most populous area, with 337,256 people. Oahu grew closer to having a million people. As of 2010, Oahu had 953,207 residents.

Pearl City saw a 54 percent increase in population, to 47,698 from 30,976 people.

Rep. Chris Lee (D, Lanikai-Waimanalo) said the Pearl Harbor area saw large growth due to military housing that was not there a decade ago.

A reapportionment commission must be established before May to determine any changes in state voting districts. The leaders of the Legislature's majority and minority parties name members to serve on that commission. Each party names four members.

The eight members will select a ninth member to serve as commission chairperson.

It is tough to predict whether any Oahu districts will change. But despite the large growth on Hawaii island and Maui, neighbor islands are unlikely to see more seats in the state Legislature.

"Even if there's a lot of growth or loss, it's a lot harder to put a seat in because there are so fewer districts to balance on the neighbor islands," Lee said. "With 35 districts on Oahu, it's a lot easier to spread out. By and large, between the islands, things are gonna stay largely the same."

Milner said reapportionment will also largely depend on the political process, since it involves the two parties. But even if the neighbor islands were to gain seats, it's unlikely to see more Republican lawmakers, Milner said.

"People used to assume that if you get more representation for the neighbor islands, you'd get more Republicans," Milner said. "It's a nice theory but it hasn't happened yet. Even the most stoic Republican has to be pretty optimistic to think that's going to happen for sure."

Asians still make up the largest chunk of the state, taking up 38.6 percent of the population with about 525,100 people. There are about 135,400 native Hawaiians in the state and about 336,600 whites. Blacks saw the only decrease. There are 2.6 percent fewer blacks in Hawaii, with about 21,400, down from 22,000 in 2000.






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