As a result of his involvement with I Aloha Molokai — the group fighting proposed windmill developments on Molokai — Kanohowailuku Helm has decided to run against Sen. J. Kalani English for Hawaiiʻs 7th Senate District seat.
A report yesterday in the Honolulu Civil Beat said that Helm, president of IAM, has pulled papers with the state Election Office to run as an independent against English, the incumbent Democrat. The 7th District includes Molokai, Lanai, Kaho’olawe, Hana and East and Upcountry Maui.
Helm is a local, a father of three, who comes from one of the most well-known and respected families on Molokai. The farmer, fisherman, musician and two-time Na Hoku Hanohano award nominee has just recently become involved in state politics.
IAM lobbied in opposition to SB 2785, the newly passed legislation creating the regulatory framework for an interisland undersea electric cable. The group tried to persuade lawmakers at the state capital and also started an international petition to fight this project, estimated to cost around $1 billion.
Helmʻs frustration with the political process can be seen in the two videos he has made regarding SB 2785. The first video questions why legislators would vote yes “with reservations” when they appeared to oppose the bill, which would require Hawaiian Electric Company customers to reimburse HECO for its infrastructure improvements.
The second video, also released on the Civil Beat, is titled, “Naming Names: Voter’s Guide Aims to Bring Common Sense To Hawaii.” Helm makes the case that the Democratic Party holds a monopoly over politics in Hawaii, which must change. Helm would like to bring together what he calls “small d” Democrats with Republicans.
Another Molokai resident will also challenge English for the senate seat he has held since 2000. Barbara Haliniak, of Kaunakakai, former president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, filed papers March 19 to be the Democratic nominee. She will face English in the primary election Aug. 11.
At the end of the Civil Beat column yesterday, the staff-written piece speculates about Helm’s future: “Could tiny Molokai with the charismatic Helm at the helm be the one to unite the dissidents into a new political force?”