House committee reviews challenge to state lawmaker’s residency

Rep. Calvin Say

The longest-serving lawmaker in Hawaii’s Legislature is once again being challenged over where he lives.

A group of voters is claiming state Rep. Calvin Say, D-Palolo, Kaimuki, St. Louis Heights, does not live in his district.

This is the first time this kind of challenge has come before a special House committee and could ultimately cost Say his seat in the House.

Some have been asking for nearly a decade if Say actually lives in his 10th Avenue home. The former House Speaker has faced previous challenges about his residency, claiming he lives here while his family lives at his in-laws’ home in Pauoa.

“I also think it’s reasonable that he spends a lot of time there having dinner and staying with the family when he can, but that does not change intent,” said Say’s attorney Bert Kobayashi.

“One oversight or slip-up, if you will, to this disciplined use of the 10th Avenue address was the address used by the city’s real property tax division regarding the sending of notices of tax assessments and bills,” said Lance Collins, the petitioners’ attorney.

Notices were sent to the Pauoa home, according to Collins.

After Friday’s hearing, we tried to talk to Say, but he wouldn’t comment. “At the advice of counsel, no,” he said.

10th Avenue, Palolo
10th Avenue, Palolo

So KHON2 went to the address listed as his home in Palolo, knocked on doors and talked to residents.

We talked to three of his neighbors and they all say the same thing. Say does live there and comes home every night.

“He goes to dinners and fundraisers, so if someone wants to come here and see at 7 or 8 o’clock to see if he’s home, he won’t be home. He comes home maybe 9, 10 o’clock at night,” said neighbor Stephanie Nipp.

But the current petition before the House committee includes testimony from neighbors who claim he does not live there, and petitioners say they submitted bills showing low water use at the home.

“If everyone feels he doesn’t live there, presumes he doesn’t live there and he keeps getting re-elected to office, what does that say about his constituents’ feelings on the matter?” said John Hart, communication chair for Hawaii Pacific University.

The committee will hold another hearing within 14 days to go over its findings and make recommendations to the House. They could range from dismissal of the allegations to the removal from his seat.

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