Filipino Candidates Win Big In Hawaii

by Atty. Emmanuel S. Tipon

Filipino American candidates winning in Hawaii’s General Election bucked the trend set in this year’s Primary that had Filipinos losing in big office races from Congressional Districts 1 and 2 to Lieutenant Governor.

The redemptive wave of Fil-Am victors in the General totaled to 18, which rivals past triumphant elections for this community.  The State Senate will have two newly elected senators in Brandon Elefante (formerly a Honolulu City Councilmember) and Henry Aquino (rising from the State House), both Democrats. They will join four veteran FilAm senators who also won their races that includes Donovan dela Cruz, the current chair of the powerful Senate Ways & Means (WAM).

Filipinos will continue their historically large presence in the Honolulu City Council with two newly elected members from the General: Tyler Dos Santos Tam, who has never served in public office, and Valerie Aquino Okimoto, a former member of the State House. Dos Santos Tam and Okimoto will join Fil-Ams Radiant Cordero and Augie Tulba whose seats were not up for reelection, to combine for 4 of 9 seats in the Council.

Getting to know two newly elected FilAm candidates

Valerie Aquino Okimoto
Valerie Aquino Okimoto, a 40-something mother of two young daughters. She is an accountant and worked as a special education teacher. She helps the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her campaign slogan was “Together, we can create a better Honolulu.”

A Republican, Valerie won the seat to represent District 8 (Mililani, Pearl City, Waipahu) in the nonpartisan Honolulu City Council.  Valerie beat veteran politician Ron Menor, an attorney, former Honolulu Council member, former former State senator and a former State representative. Okimoto obtained 19,917 votes (53.3%) to Menor’s 15,225 votes (40.8%).

Rose Martinez
A Democrat, Martinez unsuccessfully ran four times for the State House, District 40, which includes parts of Ewa Beach, before winning in this election. She is a former teacher, a legislative aide, and a health care worker. She is from Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Rose is the wife of popular radio host and announcer Florante Martinez of KNDI radio station (only Filipino-owned radio station in Hawaii).

Complete list of winners

State Senate (7 out of 25)
Lorraine Rodero Inouye (D) – Dist. 1
Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D) – Dist. 5
Joy San Buenaventura (D) – Dist. 2
Donna Mercado Kim (D) – Dist. 14
Brandon Elefante (D) – Dist. 16
Donovan de la Cruz (D) – Dist. 17
Henry Aquino (D) – Dist. 19

State House of Representatives (7 out of 51)
Greggor Ilagan (D) – Dist. 4
Della Au Belatti (D) – Dist. 26
Sonny Ganaden (D) – Dist. 30
Micah Aiu (D) – Dist. 32
Rachele Lamosao (D) – Dist. 36
Rose Martinez (D) – Dist. 40
Diamond Garcia (R) – Dist. 42

Honolulu City Council (2 out of 3)
Tyler Dos Santos Tam – Dist. 6
Valerie Aquino Okimoto – Dist. 8

Maui County Council – Molokai
Keani Rawlins-Fernandez

Kauai County Council
Addison Bulosan
Shirley Simbre-Medeiros

Green wins as Hawaii Governor
Elected Governor of Hawaii was Josh Green, a prominent physician and current Lt. Governor. He is a Democrat. Green’s father had a construction business in the Philippines during the Marcos I years and he had lived there with his father. Dr. Green said that he is “inspired by the hopes, challenges, and values of the families he cares for.”

Governor-elect Green is married to Jaime Kanani Ushiroda, a lawyer. They have a daughter Maia, 14 and a son Sam, 10

(Atty. Tipon may be reached at

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