LIHU‘E — Governor Josh Green announced Wednesday that he chose Kaua‘i County Council Member Luke Evslin to fill the seat vacated by state Rep. Jimmy Tokioka.
Evslin was chosen from a slate of three candidates put forward by the Democratic District 16 Council. The other two are nonprofit director Nikki Cristobal and former County Council Vice Chair Mason Chock.
Evslin’s district includes Lihu‘e, Hanama‘ulu, Puhi and portions of Wailua Homesteads, Koloa and ‘Oma‘o.
“I believe strongly that effective policy can help solve some of the biggest collective challenges that we face, from housing to climate change,” said Evslin at a Wednesday press conference. “I promise to work relentlessly with the governor and my new colleagues towards solutions that improve the quality of life for all of Hawai‘i, for our children, and for the generations to come.”
A Kaua‘i native and business owner, Evslin was elected to the Kaua‘i County Council in 2018, where he has introduced almost 30 pieces of legislation with a particular focus on housing policy. Most recently, he and fellow nominee Chock, have led the charge on securing a steady source of funding for affordable housing.
“On the county council he’s been a champion of legislation dealing with affordable housing,” said Green at a press conference Wednesday. “This is one of the reasons that I’m so proud to ask him to serve.”
Evslin will enter the statehouse mid-session, with his first day on the floor set for Tuesday. He is one of 18 new legislators in the House.
Evslin said his priorities would be increasing funding for affordable housing, reducing barriers for affordable housing construction, limiting speculation in the housing market, and cutting transportation costs by building close to jobs.
Tokioka, who was reelected to his ninth term in the state House in November 2022, vacated the seat in January to accept a job as state Department of Transportation Airports Division deputy director in the Green administration.
“I think it’s great that (Evslin) has legislative experience and has been part of the county council,” Tokioka told The Garden Island. “It’s helpful when you have an individual who has dealt with the community before, to understand what to do when issues come up and when constituents contact his office. I’m sure he’ll fit right in at the state Capitol.”
Evslin’s appointment leaves a vacant Kaua‘i County Council seat that will be filled by a majority vote from the six remaining members.
Ross Kagawa, who finished eighth in the November 2022 election, has expressed interest in the role. Ninth-place finisher Fern Anuenue Holland has also expressed interest.
Holland cited her top issues as addressing the drug problem, environmental issues and the affordable housing crisis.
“With my degree and my educational background, my focus on environment and the issues that particularly matter to the Kaua‘i community, I feel like a lot of people here can resonate the things that I’m most committed to,” she said.
Nikki Cristobal said although she was not picked, she will continue to work in the community as the operator of the Kamawaelualani nonprofit and the principal investigator for the Missing &Murdered Native Hawaiian Women and Girls Report.
“My main function for throwing my name into the ring was to resist the narrative that the Legislature is a place for those who are mostly men and longtime politicians. I hope that I at least contributed, in a small way, to showing our Kaua‘i girls that their voices are valid and the power resides within them to create their own change in our community,” she said in a statement.
“It was a privilege to be nominated alongside Luke Evslin and Mason Chock, and I know both of them will do great things as leaders of Kaua‘i.”
Green also announced that he picked Trish La Chica to fill the House District 37 seat vacated by state Rep. Ryan Yamane, who took a Green appointment to become deputy director of the state Department of Human Resources Development. District 37 includes portions of Mililani and surrounding areas of O‘ahu.
Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island
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