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Search process to begin for Rep. Tsuji’s replacement


    Rep. Clift Tsuji

HILO » Members of the Hawaii Democratic Party are set to begin selecting nominees to replace state Rep. Clift Tsuji, who died last week.

Party officials from Tsuji’s district, which covers parts of the Big Island, are scheduled to interview and nominate candidates Dec. 3, a day before his funeral in Hilo. Micah Alameda, party chairman for House District 2, said the date for interviewing applicants was selected before services were announced.

“Out of respect it would have been great to hold this process after his funeral services,” Alameda said, adding that the Thanksgiving holiday presented scheduling challenges.

Tsuji died on Nov. 15 at the age of 75.

“We’re all sorry for the loss,” said Hawaii County party chairman Phil Barnes. “All the experience, all the years he’s put in working for Hilo folks.”

To fill Tsuji’s seat, the Democratic Party will submit a list of three prospective appointees, and then Gov. David Ige will make an appointment within 60 days.

The person selected for the job will complete Tsuji’s two-year term.

Alameda said three people have requested nomination applications since the party announced the vacancy to members in an email Friday. Those potential applicants include Dennis Onishi, Christopher Todd and Moana Kelii.

Onishi is a Hawaii County councilman whose term ends Dec. 5. Kelii ran unsuccessfully for the seat Onishi currently holds for County Council District 3 in the general election. Todd is a distribution manager at Hawaii Paper Products and coaches football and track and field at Hilo High School.

Applicants must be party members and residents of the district.

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