Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English announced today that he is stepping down from his Senate seat on May 1, citing lingering symptoms from a COVID-19 infection.
“Having been deemed a ‘long hauler,‘ I was diagnosed with long-term effects of COVID-19,” English said in a news release. “My new normal will require me to address some of the challenges left to my short and long-term memory and other cognitive issues derived from the virus. These challenges have placed a number of things into perspective for me, including the need to take better care of my health.”
English said he contracted COVID-19 in late November while traveling with his family outside of Hawaii. He said his symptoms were mild, but after returning to Hawaii he noticed a drop in his energy levels. He began experiencing pervasive lethargy, memory problems and a fogginess in his thought process.
English said he initially believed that he was suffering from depression, but was later diagnosed as suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19.
Tens of thousands of people throughout the country are believed to be suffering from what doctors have determined are long-term side effects from a coronavirus infection. Many of these “long haulers” had few or no symptoms from their initial infection, according to a recent study.
“I have been blessed to give back to the communities that have reared and nurtured me – it will be a daunting task to walk away from 25 years of service to my island home,” said English. “I want to thank my colleagues in the Hawai‘i State Senate and the Hawai‘i House of Representatives – in particular to the Maui delegation for bettering our home. I also want to thank the countless number of friends and family on Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi who have supported me as a member of the Maui County Council and the Hawaiʻi State Senate.”
English, who is from Hana, Maui, has served in the Senate since 2000.
Officials with the Democratic Party will identify three potential candidates to fill English’s seat. Gov. David Ige will have 60 days to pick a replacement from the list.
Senate President Ron Kouchi, in a statement, said he had come to know English as both a colleague and a friend.
“As a fellow neighbor-island senator, I’ve always admired his passion and dedication toward bettering his community,” said Kouchi. “His twenty-five years of public service will leave a lasting impact on Maui Nui and the entire state. While his presence and leadership here at the State Capitol will be missed, I wish him the best of health and look forward to many more years of continued friendship.”