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HI-02: Kai Kahele (D)
PROFILE

November 1, 2020 by TWN Staff

About Kahele: 

Kaialiʻi (Kai) Kahele was appointed to the Hawaiʻi State Senate by Gov. David Ige in February, 2016 following the untimely and unexpected death of his father, the late Sen. Gil Kahele. He was subsequently elected and re-elected by wide margins in 2016 and 2018. 

Kahele currently serves as the majority floor leader of the Hawaiʻi State Senate and chairman of the Senate Committee on Water and Land. Additionally, Sen. Kahele is vice chairman of Hawaiian Affairs and a member of the Committees on Ways & Means, and Higher Education. 

Kahele is also an 18-year veteran, pilot and commissioned officer in the Hawai‘i Air National Guard, United States Air Force where he continues to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel with the 201st Air Operations Group. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Lieutenant Colonel Kahele logged over 2000 hours of military flight time and has commanded dozens of combat missions in theater. 

Kahele is a graduate of Hilo High School and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where he balanced life as an NCAA Division-I student-athlete as a member of the UH Rainbow Warriors Men’s Volleyball Team while earning a B.S. in Education. 

When not serving the public in the Senate or through his duties with the National Guard, Kahele works as a commercial airline pilot with Hawaiian Airlines. He is the former executive director of a non-profit that serves rural Native Hawaiian families in South Kona. Kahele and his wife Maria live and are raising their young daughters in Hilo, Kahele’s hometown on the Island of Hawaiʻi.

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