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Luke Evslin sworn in as new Kaua‘i representative

LIHU‘E — New Kaua‘i state Rep. Luke Evslin took his seat in House chambers for the first time on Tuesday, joining the largest freshman class of representatives in 28 years.

Evslin, who was a Kaua‘i County Council member just last week, was sworn in at the Hawai‘i state Capitol before his family, friends and new colleagues.

Gov. Josh Green selected Evslin on Feb. 15 to replace longtime state Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, who left the statehouse to join the state Department of Transportation as deputy director of the Airports Division. Evslin represents District 16, which includes Wailua, Hanama‘ulu, Kapaia, Lihu‘e, Puhi, and a portion of ‘Oma‘o.

He was chosen from a slate of progressives forwarded by the Democratic District 16 Council, including Nikki Cristobal and former county council vice chair Mason Chock.

Evslin will join a busy Legislature, which is working to address ethics reform after a series of scandals last year and adjusting to a new face in the governor’s office. He enters the house midway through the session, well after the deadline to submit new legislation.

“It’s an easier learning curve because you’re just there to learn the process and not expected to be pushing through any changes,” said Evslin in an interview with The Garden Island during the selection process. “In a way, it lowers the stakes when your only job is to learn and build relationships.”

On the county council, Evslin was a prolific bill introducer, putting forward almost 30 pieces of new legislation during his four years in office. Housing, a frequent priority of Evslin’s on the council, will be a focus of the Legislature this year as well, as a series of measures aiming to channel more funding into affordable housing construction and homeless services are making their way through the body.

Evslin and Trish La Chica, who was also sworn in Tuesday to represent District 37 (Mililani, Waipoo Gentry, Waikele on O‘ahu), are two of the 18 new lawmakers joining the House this session.

The slate of Kaua‘i legislators Evslin joined all hold leadership roles — including Senate President Ron Kouchi (District 8, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau), House Floor Leader Daynette “Dee” Morikawa (District 17, which includes the westside and South Shore), and House Majority Leader Nadine K. Nakamura (District 15, which includes the North Shore and Kapa‘a).

Nakamura along with House Speaker Scott Saiki issued their congratulations to Evslin and La Chica on Tuesday.

“We appreciate Luke and Trish responding to the call to serve their communities and the state of Hawai‘i,” said Saiki. “They bring experience, perspective and new energy to the House.”

The Legislature is set to recess for five days starting Thursday.

The Kaua‘i County Council will choose Evslin’s replacement in a special meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Ross Kagawa and Fern Anuenue Holland, the eighth- and ninth-place finishers in the November 2022 General Election, respectively, have expressed interest in the seat.


Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or
Source: The Garden Island

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