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Chris Todd chosen to fill Tsuji’s seat in House

By Sophie Cocke; Star Advertiser; January 6, 2017
Chris Todd chosen to fill Tsuji’s seat in House

Hilo native Chris Todd has a degree in economics and political science. (Courtesy Photo)

Star Advertiser

Gov. David Ige has tapped Chris Todd to replace the late Rep. Clift Tsuji in the state House of Representatives representing Hilo, following a party selection process that raised questions about potential improprieties.

Ige chose among three candidates forwarded to him by the Hawaii County Democratic Party. Other contenders included Moana Kelii and Stacy Higa.

Todd was born and raised in Hilo and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo where he earned a degree in economics and political science, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office on Thursday announcing his appointment. He is a distribution manager for Hawaii Paper Products.

Todd also teaches football at Hilo High School, and his wife is a teacher at Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Elementary and Intermediate School.

Tsuji, who had represented the district since 2004, died in November after suffering a heart attack.

The selection of candidates by the Hawaii County Democratic Party came into question last month when one candidate who was vying for the job alleged that the vetting process was unfair.

Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, a four-term Hawaii County councilman, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he hadn’t bothered to show up for candidate interviews because he had already seen a text message that showed the three candidates who would be selected.

The text message between two Hawaii County party members predicted correctly the three candidates that were ultimately chosen by the selection committee. (Ige had nothing to do with the selection of the nominees.)

Tim Vandeveer, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said Thursday that after looking into the situation, he didn’t think that any vote rigging took place within the selection committee of the Hawaii County Democratic Party.

“Was it stupid? Yes. Did it appear improper? Yes,” he said of the texting. “In any way did it compromise the process? No.”

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