- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii Gov. David Ige has appointed Kaialii “Kai” Kahele to fill his late father’s state Senate seat.

Sen. Gil Kahele represented the greater Hilo area when he died on Jan. 26, 2016. Ige said Tuesday he selected Kai Kahele because he has “extensive community support and is committed to completing the work of his father.”

“He has a broad vision for the future of this district and for all of Hawai’i Island that will serve his constituents well,” Ige said.

Kahele lives in Hilo and serves as a major in the Hawaii Air National Guard and combat veteran C-17 instructor pilot. He has been honored many times for his military service, including medals for combat missions flown in Afghanistan, a news release from the governor’s office said.

Kahele is also a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, University of Hawaii-Hilo adjunct faculty member and the executive director of the nonprofit Paa Pono Milolii.

“My father led by example, and community service was part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Kahele said.

He intends to focus on job creation and advocate for Hawaii Community College and University of Hawaii-Hilo, he said.

To retain the seat, Kahele will have to win a special election in November.

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