Ige fills Kahele’s vacant state Senate seat

  • Courtesy of Rep. Nadine Nakamura

    The Kaua‘i legislative team of Rep. James Tokioka, Rep. Nadine Nakamura, Hawai‘i Senate President Ron Kouchi, and Rep. Dee Morikawa get together, Wednesday at the opening of the State Legislature.

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige appointed long-time educator Laura Clint Acasio to the state Senate, District 1, which encompasses the greater Hilo area on Hawai‘i Island.

Acasio fills the seat previously held by U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, who was elected to Congress in November.

Acasio has been an educator with the state Department of Education since 1998, having served as a teacher and long-term substitute in grades kindergarten through 12 at 15 schools across the state. She has served in various capacities with the Hawai‘i Democratic Party since 2016, including party chair from 2018-20.

In addition, Acasio is an executive board member with Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo Public Charter School, and has served her community widely. Her work includes restoration volunteer for the Hilo Women’s Prison, restoration steward with Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, co-founder of the Hilo Boys and Girls Club Community, teen mentor and facilitator with the Nature Conservancy, and member of the Surfrider Foundation.

“Laura Acasio is an excellent representative of the community she has served for many years. I have every confidence in her ability to serve with integrity, and I look forward to working with her,” said Ige.

“I am honored and extremely humbled to accept the Senate District 1 appointment made by Gov. Ige. I commit myself to be of service and represent the voices of Senate District 1 as we face the coming challenges,” said Acasio.

“I look forward to working closely with fellow Hawai‘i state legislators and our community at large. I carry in my heart the deep meaning rooted in the State Motto: Ua Mau Ke Ea o ka ‘Aina i ka Pono,” said Acasio.

Acasio will serve out the remainder of Kahele’s term, which ends in 2022.

“We look forward to working with Senator Acasio, who will bring her lifelong Democratic values and real-world experiences as an educator and community advocate to the State Capitol,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi.

State Senate President Ronald Kouchi will again lead the 31st Hawai‘i State Legislature as Senate President.

Kouchi was elected unanimously for the sixth year in a row.

“And the tradition, because Senate House District 1 is where Kamehameha resided, they preside over the opening of the session. So I did inform her that her very first duty as a member of Hawai‘i state Senate will be to hold a gavel, convene the session and, hopefully, I will be selected by colleagues to continue as Senate president and receive the gavel from her tomorrow. She sounds excited. We are looking forward to great contributions from her.”

Wednesday marked the kick-off of the state legislature season at the Hawai‘i Capitol that has been shuttered since mid-March last year.

“On this auspicious day, we no longer say President-elect Biden, but simply President Biden and the historic election of Vice President Harris as a woman, a woman of color, a woman of Asian ancestry,” Kouchi said. “With nine women, this is a new record for women who comprise the body of the senate.”

Kouchi said he planned to reserve major comments on the budget and matters until after Gov. David Ige delivers his State of the State on Monday.

“I firmly believe we will create a better, brighter future for Hawai‘i,” Kouchi said.

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