Kipukai Kualii, an openly gay man, has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Kauai County Council, Gay Politics has learned. The appointment makes him the third openly LGBT elected official in Hawaii.
The Kauai County Council is the local government for a group of islands that includes Kauai, one of Hawaii’s largest islands and home to nearly 60,000 Hawaiians.
Kualii ran for the council in 2010, coming up just short of the votes needed to win a seat. The son of sugar plantation working-class family, Kualii said during the campaign, “As a Councilmember, I’ll work hard to protect our agricultural lands, cultural sites, natural resources and special places for future generations to enjoy and rely on was we did.”
Kualii is a Kauai native. He earned a Business Administration degree from the University of the Pacific and has more than 20 years experience in government, labor and non-profit administration. He will have to run to retain the seat in 2012.
Kualii joins two other openly LGBT elected officials in Hawaii:
State House Rep. Blake Oshiro, who as House Majority Leader recently helped pass a statewide civil unions bill.
Kim Iwamoto, a member of the State Board of Education and the highest-ranking openly transgender elected official in the U.S.
Hawaii also has an openly lesbian member of the State Supreme Court–Justice Sabrina McKenna–who was appointed by the governor earlier this year to a ten-year term.