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Six candidates to vie for seat of disgraced former state Rep. Ty Cullen

  • COURTESY PHOTOS
                                Clockwise from top left: Corey Rosenlee, Inam Rahman, Kevin Wilson, Tesha Malama, Richard Oshiro and Luella Costales.

    COURTESY PHOTOS

    Clockwise from top left: Corey Rosenlee, Inam Rahman, Kevin Wilson, Tesha Malama, Richard Oshiro and Luella Costales.

Six Leeward Oahu residents with backgrounds in medicine, teaching and government administration are contenders to fill a state House seat vacated Feb. 8 by Ty J.K. Cullen, who faces prison time for accepting bribes.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii announced today that it received six applications that met all criteria to be considered for the position representing Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo and West Loch communities in House District 39.

The qualified candidates are:

> Luella Costales, a community and resource strategy manager for the Oahu Economic Development Board and a former Honolulu Police Commission member.

> Tesha Malama, director of planning and development for Kalaeloa at the Hawaii Community Development Authority and president of the James Campbell High School & Community Foundation.

> Richard Oshiro, a longtime Waipahu Neighborhood Board member who has worked for The Queen’s Health Systems and at the Legislature.

> Inam Rahman, a doctor and past president of the Hawaii Medical Association.

> Corey Rosenlee, a Campbell High School social studies teacher and former president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

> Kevin Wilson, a staffer who has worked for eight sessions at the Legislature.

Hawaii Democratic Party officials are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting Sunday to interview the applicants and select three to be considered for appointment to the House seat by Gov. David Ige.

Ige has until April 9 to make an appointment from the three contenders selected by party officials.

Cullen had held the seat since 2010. He was indicted on federal charges in connection with accepting bribes along with former state Sen. J. Kalani English, who resigned in 2021 and had his seat previously filled.

Cullen and English pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges in connection with taking cash and other items of value from a local businessman in return for action on legislation. The two former lawmakers face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Sunday’s virtual meeting will be streamed live on the Facebook page of the Hawaii Democratic Party, facebook.com/hawaiidems, at 2 p.m. Participation in the event is limited to elected party officers for the 39th District.

Whoever is appointed can serve out the current term that ends with a general election in November, as voters in the district then decide who will have the House seat at that point.

Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Hawaii Democratic Party chairman, in a statement thanked the candidates for applying at a challenging time.

“Each of them has expressed an interest in representing the district with integrity, ethics, and values, and in working collaboratively with community stakeholders on key issues like affordable housing, homelessness, and crime,” he said.

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