Three nominees were selected by the Hawai‘i County Democratic Party to fill the vacancy left when Rep. Clift Tsuji (Dist. 2, Hilo) passed away on November 15, 2016. Governor David Ige today appointed Chris Todd to the State House of Representatives to fill the seat.
Todd was born and raised in Hilo, where he earned his college degree in economics and political science from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He held several positions at the Suisan Fish Market before becoming distribution manager for Hawai‘i Paper Products last year. Todd also coaches football at Hilo High School. His wife, Britney, is a teacher at Kalanianaole Middle School.
“I am happy to support the Governor’s appointment of Chris Todd to succeed Rep. Clift Tsuji in the Hawaii House of Representatives,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “Chris has big shoes to fill, but his business and coaching experience along with being born and raised in Hilo will give him a wide knowledge of the issues and concerns of Big Island residents. We miss Clift at the State Capitol but believe the District 2 seat will be in good hands.”
At least one progressive action group, the Hawai‘i chapter of the Young Progressives Demanding Action (YPDA) endorsed Moana Keli‘i, one of the other candidates to fill the seat.
“YPDA executive members held a conference call with Keli‘i to assess her stance on some of the most important issues facing Hawai‘i. We believe she will be a strong, progressive ally on many of the issues that YPDA-Hawai‘i and its nearly 800 members take most seriously, including Fight For $15 legislation, graduate student unionization, houseless advocacy and other economic justice issues with strong support from the community,” the group wrote in its endorsement, which was delivered to the governor’s office on December 7, 2016.
Keli‘i has more than 20 years of experience within the democratic party and won 40 percent of the vote in her bid for council seat (Dist. 3, Hilo), coming in just behind her incumbent rival during the last election.
“This suggests a high level of political competency. Her experience as a social worker makes us confident in her empathy for our disenfranchised and marginalized brothers and sisters,” YPDA added.
The governor is required by law to make his selection from a list of nominees submitted by the Democratic Party.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve my community. I look forward to the hard work ahead and will always keep an open door and mind,” Todd said.