Press "Enter" to skip to content

Kaua‘i Representative Jimmy Tokioka leaves statehouse to work for Green administration

LIHU‘E — After 26 years in elected office, Jimmy Tokioka is moving on.

The Democratic state representative, who represents portions of the East Side of Kaua‘i, announced Thursday that he would be resigning his post to accept a new role as the Airports Division Deputy of the Department of Transportation in the administration of recently elected Gov. Josh Green.

“I’m excited for the new challenge and opportunity that Governor Green and (Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Director Edwin Sniffen) have offered me,” said Tokioka. “I am going to miss the work as a legislator and a council person. It really was rewarding to help people with the needs they have.”

Tokioka cited helping constituents with unemployment services during the pandemic and constructing a new gym at Kaua‘i High School as two accomplishments he was proud of during his time in office.

His vacant state Legislature role will now be filled by the Democratic Party and Gov. Green. Local party officials will pick three names of potential replacements located within Tokioka’s old district to present to the governor, who will choose between those options within 60 days.

Some possible replacements could include former Kaua‘i County Council members who termed out this year, Arryl Kaneshiro and Mason Chock. Both served for eight years in the county council, finishing out their terms as Chair and Vice Chair respectively.

One contender throwing his hat into the ring is Kaua‘i Police Department Assistant Police Chief Bryson Ponce. Ponce, who has spent more than two decades on the force said Friday that he was very interested in the role and had reached out to Tokioka about it.

Former county council member and teacher Ross Kagawa, who narrowly missed reelection to the council this year after leaving in 2020, could also be in contention for the job.

At the state Department of Transportation, Tokioka will be working with a staff of more than 1,000 under newly appointed Director Edwin Sniffen. Tokioka said he was chosen because of his experience in hotels and tourism.

“The governor wanted to utilize my experience in the visitor industry,” said Tokioka. “He wanted to make the airports a place where locals and visitors have that destination experience, where it’s easy to get around, where the amenities are there, the concessions are there — like a resort.”

Tokioka began his career as a busboy on Kaua‘i before eventually becoming a hotel manager on the mainland. In 1996, he was elected to the Kaua‘i County Council as a Republican before switching party affiliation and winning his seat in the statehouse, which he has held since 2006.

Green also appointed several other officials this week, including state Rep. Ryan Yamane of Mililani as the new Deputy Director of the state Department of Human Resources Development.

“Representatives James Kunane Tokioka and Ryan Yamane both have accomplished records of public service in the House,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki in a statement on Thursday. “We look forward to working with them in the Administration and wish them much success in their new roles.”

Other appointees include Tia Roberts Hartsock as the first Director of the Office of Wellness and Resilience, and Mark Glick as State Energy Officer.

Hartsock previously served as the Project Director of a federal Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration initiative, Data to Wisdom, within the Child &Adolescent Mental Health Division of the Hawai‘i state Department of Health.

Glick acted as Chair of the Hawai‘i Energy Policy Forum, Specialist on Energy Policy and Innovation, Administrator of the Hawai‘i State Energy Office, and the Director of Economic Development at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

“These exceptional and experienced individuals will work to advance our community’s quality of life, sustainably develop our economy, and modernize our systems to increase government efficiency and cross-collaboration. I am confident that today’s nominees and appointments will serve the people of Hawai‘i wholeheartedly and hit the ground running to produce these promised results,” said Green.
Source: The Garden Island

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: