Gov. David Ige has appointed Kaialii Kahele — more often known as Kai — to his late father’s state senate seat representing Hilo.
Former Sen. Gil Kahele represented Senate District One when he died on Jan. 26, after suffering a series of heart attacks.
“Kai has extensive community support and is committed to completing the work of his father. He has a broad vision for the future of this district and for all of Hawaii Island that will serve his constituents well,” said Ige said in a news release today.
Kai Kahele, 41, is a major in the Hawaii Air National Guard, and is a combat veteran C-17 instructor pilot.
In 2005 he was awarded a National Defense Service Medal and a USAF Air Medal for combat missions flown in Afghanistan, and earlier this month he received the Guard Officer of the Year award at Hickam Air Force Base.
He is also a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines, and is a University of Hawaii at Hilo adjunct faculty member. In 2015, Kai Kahele was also a crew member on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s canoe Hikianalia.
He lives in the Waiakea Uka neighborhood of Hilo.