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Sunday, September 21, 2014         

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Governor fills Senate seats

Abercrombie chooses a former legislative colleague and a current House member

By B.J. Reyes

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Gov. Neil Abercrombie turned to present and past legislative experience in filling two Senate vacancies yesterday.

The governor named state Rep. Maile Shimabukuro and former state Sen. Malama Solomon -- an ally of Abercrombie's from their days in the Legislature -- to fill vacancies created by the resignations of Colleen Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) and Dwight Takamine (D, Hilo-Hawi).

"Maile and Malama were selected from a group of fine candidates with outstanding credentials," Abercrombie said in a news release. "They are dedicated public servants who will help move the state forward in these difficult economic conditions."

Both said the economy and helping public education would be among their priorities in the Senate.

Shimabukuro, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, has represented the 45th House District (Waianae-Makua) since 2003. Abercrombie will appoint her successor.

Noting that there are fewer members in the Senate than the House, "Bills are able to move faster," Shimabukuro said. "I think it will be an exciting chance for me to try to push things through."

Solomon served in the Senate from 1983 to 1998 and as an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee from 1980 to 1982. She was the lieutenant governor candidate on the 2006 Democratic ticket with Randy Iwase that lost to Linda Lingle.

Solomon is a former University of Hawaii-Hilo affiliate professor and a Hawaiian-studies teacher.

"I worked with the governor when he was a state senator in the Legislature, so the governor and I have an excellent working relationship," Solomon said by phone from the Big Island. "And I just feel that I could be of great service to our district.

"I know our needs and our priorities, and I felt comfortable putting my hat, so to speak, back in the ring."

Hanabusa and Takamine are leaving their elected offices with two years remaining on their terms. By law the governor must appoint a replacement who lives in the district from a list provided by the party of the departing member.

Hanabusa was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last month and will head to Washington, D.C., when the new Congress convenes next year. Abercrombie has appointed Takamine director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, subject to Senate confirmation.






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