POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 04:56 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2011
The Kahala Post Office is being renamed after the late U.S. Rep. Cec Heftel, a five-term Democratic congressman and local television and radio pioneer, under a measure passed this week in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The measure, HR 2149, was co-sponsored by Democratic U.S. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono.
"Cec Heftel was known for his keen business sense and his pursuit of excellence as a broadcaster," Hirono said in a statement. "As a member of Congress, his dedication to his constituents was exceptional. Cec Heftel had a lifelong commitment to the people of Hawaii and loved this state."
Introducing the measure on the House floor on Thursday, Hanabusa noted Heftel's introduction of 160 bills as testament to his vision and farsightedness for the state and the country's future.
"He was a champion of tax reform and energy independence — an issue that is very popular today but may not have been as popular back then — always showing aloha for his constituents," Hanabusa said.
The measure was reintroduced this year after a similar proposal stalled in the House last year.
Hanabusa's predecessor, Republican Rep. Charles Djou, had introduced a proposal to rename the Makiki Post Office after Heftel, saying it was custom, after a member of Congress dies, that the successor to the seat introduce a bill to rename a post office after that person.
The practice is usually uncontroversial but requires unanimous consent from the state's delegation.
Heftel, who represented the 1st Congressional District, died Feb. 4, 2010, weeks before then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie resigned the seat to concentrate on his campaign for governor. Djou won a special election in May to fill the remainder of the term.
After Djou introduced the bill to rename the Makiki Post Office, Heftel's widow, Rebecca, objected, saying she believed her husband would have wanted such a bill sponsored by someone whose politics were more aligned with his own.
The rift within the family prompted Hirono to back away from the legislation.
Heftel made his fortune in the radio and television industries and was one of Honolulu's most successful broadcasters before setting that career aside to become active in Hawaii Democratic politics.
In 1976 he ran and won election to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 1st Congressional District. He served until 1986 when he resigned to run for governor, losing in the Democratic primary to John Waihee, who went on to become governor.