Abercrombie announces first wave of cabinet appointees - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Abercrombie announces first wave of cabinet appointees

William Aila William Aila
Richard Lim Richard Lim
Jodie Maesaka-Hirata Jodie Maesaka-Hirata
Alapaki Nahalea Alapaki Nahalea

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waianae harbormaster William Aila has a long history of challenging the government, but soon he could be helping to lead the government as the chairperson of one of Hawaii's most influential state agencies.  If the state senate signs off, Aila will lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  That's one of the key positions named today as governor-elect Neil Abercrombie puts together his cabinet.

"Even now as I speak to you I feel deeply emotional," said Governor-Elect Abercrombie.

A week away from inauguration and the governor-elect got choked up as he announced his first round of picks to lead state departments, among them William Aila who unsuccessfully ran for governor four years ago.

"I've been both on the inside and outside of this process so I think I have a unique idea of how to bring the sides together, bring the people together.  You'll never get 100 percent consensus on something but we will work towards that," said William Aila. "My first thing on the agenda is to get up to speed on where the different issues are within the department.  What the resources are, what the budgets will be like and get to work."

Abercrombie admitted the DLNR is a subject everyone thinks they know best.  As for the people that may not think Aila is the right person to handle all those opinions.

"I would say get in and join the process because it will take all of us to solve these problems," said Aila.

The Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club is thrilled with Aila's appointment.

"William Aila, Jr., a former Sierra Club Executive Committee member, is an outstanding choice.  He's extremely bright, articulate, and thoughtful.  He understands the uniqueness of Hawaii's environment and can articulate the importance of preserving our valuable resources for future generations," said Robert Harris, Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter Director, in a statement.

Richard Lim will leave the banking and financial services sector in order to lead the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

"I've spent my entire professional career in the private sector and I think Hawaii is really ready and needs a change," said Lim.

Jodie Maesaka-Hirata could be the first woman confirmed as the Director of Public Safety and hasn't had much time to figure out what she would do first.

"This is all new to me. I just found out last night so I have some time to catch my breath and really catch the wave for it," said Maesaka-Hirata.

Alapaki Nahalea and Bobby Hall were tapped to be director and deputy director of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.

"In every case in every case I almost immediately knew the person I was speaking to was going to be asked to take the responsibility and meet the obligations of these high offices," said Abercrombie.

"I think they're all fine solid appointments of course time will tell," said Dan Boylan, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst.

Abercrombie also named his communications team today. Josh Levinson will be communications director. Former Star Bulletin reporter Laurie Au will be deputy director and the lead writer and researcher. And former KHON reporter Donalyn Dela Cruz will be the press secretary.

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