Kahele’s father died of a heart attack. While in the State House, Kahele sponsored many bills related to enhancing mental health and addiction treatment and has vowed for Veteran mental health to be a top priority.
Hawaii State Senator (1st district), 2016-2021
2020 ELECTION CONTEXT
Kahele announced his challenge to incumbent Democrat Tulsi Gabbard in January 2019. In October 2019, while running for President of the United States, Gabbard announced that she would not be seeking re-election to Congress.
Tulsi Gabbard (D), retired
MOST RECENT PROFESSION
Hawaii State Senator (District 1)
Kahele served in the Air Force. In 2016, Kahele was appointed to the Hawaii State Senate seat held by his father, Gil Kahele, following his passing. In 2018, Kahele won the seat in his own right. In 2019, Kahele was elected by his peers to serve as the Majority Floor Leader in the Senate. Kahele has also served as chair of the Committee on Higher Education, Chair of the Senate Committee on Water and Land and Vice Chair of the Committee on Education. During his time in the State Senate, Kahele has also served on the Ways and Means, Hawaiian Affairs and Housing Committees. During the 19th Annual Western Legislative Academy (WLA), Kahele was elected by legislators from other states as the class president of the Council of State Governments (CSG) West.
On The Issues
In May 2020, Kahele joined the Hawaii National Guard's COVID-19 Joint Task Force in an active duty capacity.
Kahele is a strong supporter of a single-payer “Medicare for All” system. Kahele wants to improve access to health care in rural areas and work to address the physician shortage which has worsened over the past decade.
In a 2020 Hawaii Public Health Institute Candidate Survey, Kahele indicated that he was in support of the legalization of marijuana.
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION
As a state senator, Kahele sponsored legislation to ensure mental health parity and expand access to mental health resources for Hawaiian youth, mothers and inmates. He also sponsored legislation that would allow pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists for treatment of opioid use disorder. Additionally, Kahele sponsored legislation in support of the inclusion of Native Hawaiian cultural intervention treatment programs for those living with opioid use disorder. He also co-authored failed legislation that would allow for mental health treatment of youth without parental consent.
As a member of Congress, Kahele intends to work to lower the cost of prescription drugs, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. While in the state senate, Kahele authored an unsuccessful bill applying regulations and mandates to pharmacy benefit managers.
VETERANS HEALTH CARE
Kahele wants to make combating the Veteran suicide epidemic one of his top priorities in Congress and intends to work to expand VA services and end their backlog by filling the numerous vacancies that exist within the agency. Additionally, Kahele supports the appropriation of funds to establish additional post-acute care and rehabilitation centers.
Kahele is pro-choice. Kahele supports universal access to contraceptives, opposes any attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and supports overturning the Hyde Amendment.
OTHER HEALTH CARE ISSUES
Kahele indicated that he supported various regulations that would limit accessibility for tobacco and nicotine vaporizer products, including bans on menthol flavored cigarettes and bans on flavored e-liquids. He also introduced a bill to mandate coverage of hearing aids.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kahele was a member of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa’s Rainbow Warriors NCAA Division I Mens Volleyball Team and was voted “Most Inspirational Teammate” by his team. Kahele has served as the head coach of the University Laboratory School’s Varsity Volleyball Team.