HONOLULU — Jill Tokuda, 46, of Kaneohe is the Democratic candidate in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, running to succeed Democrat Kai Kahele.
Tokuda’s campaign website provides the following profile: “Jill N. Tokuda served in the Hawaiʻi State Senate for 12 years, from 2006-2018, representing Kāneʻohe and Kailua on the Island of Oʻahu. During her tenure, she chaired the Ways and Means Committee, where she was responsible for balancing the state’s $14 billion budget and negotiating the final approval for fiscal measures at the Hawaiʻi Legislature. She also chaired the Labor, Education, Higher Education, and Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs committees and served as majority whip.
“Throughout her state legislative service, Jill has focused on measures which put families first – establishing the state’s first Executive Office on Early Learning to give young children and families access to preschool; creating a Special Action Team on Rental Housing to build 22,500 units by 2026; funding the Hawaiʻi Promise Program to provide free in-state tuition to qualified University of Hawaii Community College students; and supporting the Hawaiʻi Keiki Program to provide access to school nursing services in Hawaii’s public schools.
“Jill has extensive private sector experience as a small business owner of her own consulting practice. She provides strategic planning and communications, government relations, and program development support to some of Hawaiʻi’s most established foundations, nonprofit organizations, and businesses.
“Over the last two years, Jill took the lead working with the state to track billions in pandemic relief funding to Hawaii, advocating for our fair share.
“Jill is currently a co-director of CyberHawaii, an affiliate of CyberUSA, which supports workforce development in IT/cyber security/data science as well as works in the community with small businesses and nonprofits to be more cyber aware and resilient. She is also the external affairs director for the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, focused on securing public and private support for both operations, and facility expansion on Maui.
“Jill serves on the Board of the Hawaiʻi Data Collaborative and is an Advisory Board member of the Hawaiʻi Budget and Policy Center. In 2004, Jill was a key founding member and organizer of the Patsy T. Mink PAC and has continued the PAC’s mission of supporting pro-choice Hawaiʻi Democratic women running for office.
“A proud graduate of James B. Castle High School, Jill received her BA in international relations and a minor in Japanese studies from the George Washington University. Married to Kyle Michibata, they have two sons, Matt (age 13) and Aden (age 12), who now attend the same public schools as their mom did — King Intermediate and Kāneʻohe Elementary.”
Tokuda is garnering the support of many local labor organizations and national organizations and entities, including EMILY’s List, Elect Democratic Women and Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC.
In August, Tokuda won the Democratic primary, finishing first among six candidates with 58.4 percent of the vote. Her nearest competitor was Patrick Branco, a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, who received 24.7 percent.
The Republican candidate is Joe Akana, who served in the U.S. Air Force. His career experience includes working as a project manager, intelligence officer, readiness manager, business owner, real estate investor, entrepreneur, and military-intelligence analyst.
The Libertarian candidate is Michelle Tippens, a disabled veteran who served in the U.S. Army and functioned as a counterintelligence agent and an Arab linguist. She is the founder of the Hawaii Veteran’s Cannabis Alliance.
A freshman congresman, Kahele gave up the seat to run, unsuccessfully, in the Democratic primary for governor. The winner was Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
With a population of over 725,000, the district encompasses all rural and most suburban areas of Oahu/Honolulu County, as well as the entire state outside of Oahu, including the counties of Kauai, Maui, Kalawao, and Hawaii (the Big Island).
The district was previously represented by Tulsi Gabbard, Mazie Hirono (now a U.S. senator), Ed Case (now representing the 1st Congressional District), Patsy Takemoto Mink and Daniel Akaka, all Democrats.