House lawmaker Troy Hashimoto transfers to Hawaii Senate

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Nov. 10—Gov. Josh Green on Thursday filled one vacancy in the state Legislature and created another representing parts of Maui.

Gov. Josh Green on Thursday filled one vacancy in the state Legislature and created another representing parts of Maui.

Green picked Rep. Troy Hashimoto (D, Wailuku-Waikapu ) to fill an empty seat in the Senate following the recent resignation of Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran (D, Wailuku-Kahului-Waihee ).

Keith-Agaran, an attorney, announced in late August that he planned to leave the Senate effective Oct. 31 to pursue advocacy for victims of the Aug. 8 Maui wildfire that killed at least 99 people and destroyed around 3, 500 homes in Lahaina.

Keith-Agaran, who became a senator in 2013 and was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as vice-chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, had attracted some public concern before his retirement announcement about whether he might have a conflict of interest if he remained a lawmaker while he or his law firm represented parties in fire-related litigation that includes some cases where the state has been named as a defendant.

In August, Keith-Agaran told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that it was more important for him to represent people in his community who were injured, lost family members or suffered damage in the fire rather than remain in the Legislature.

Hashimoto, who has served in the Legislature for five years and was chair of the House Committee on Housing, was picked by Green from among three candidates selected by the Democratic Party of Hawai 'i.

The other two contenders were Jason Economou, government affairs director for the Realtors Association of Maui ; and Justin Hughey, a Maui teacher.

Under state rules, candidates may compete in the 2024 election for Hashi ­moto's Senate seat.

To replace Hashimoto in the House of Representatives, Green will select one person from three candidates that the Democratic Party of Hawai 'i has 30 days to provide to the governor.

In a statement, Green said it was a pleasure to appoint Hashimoto to the Senate. "I know, being Maui born-and-bred, he will do his utmost to help his neighbors recover and move forward into a bright future, " Green said.

Hashimoto said in a statement that he was honored and grateful for the appointment, that he has humble gratitude for the belief his Maui constituents have had in him so far, and that he promises to passionately serve the community's needs.

Senate President Ron Kouchi (D, Kauai-Niihau )

offered Hashimoto a warm welcome. "Given his character, experience as a legislator, and knowledge of the district, I am confident that he will be a valuable addition to the Senate, " Kouchi said in a statement.