Lingle fills vacant senate seats

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Governor Linda Lingle made two appointments Tuesday to fill vacancies created by state senators running for higher office. Laura Figueira has been named to fill the vacant Oahu North Shore seat left by Robert Bunda. Ronald Kouchi was tapped to replace Gary Hooser's Kauai senate seat. Both Bunda and Hooser resigned to seek the lieutenant governor's office.

Figueira worked for Bunda for 14 years, including a six years as his chief of staff. She was a former aide to Cec Heftel when he was a US representative and is also active in several community organizations.

Kouchi served for 22 years on the Kauai County Council, including 12 years as the chair. He has worked for the Kauai Chamber of Commerce and also with the Kauai Visitors Bureau, and has served in other public and private sector roles on Kauai.

"I have known Laura and Ron for many years, and I look forward to working with them. I appreciate their willingness to represent their respective districts and serve our state on an interim basis," said Governor Lingle in a statement.

Lingle selected the two from lists submitted by the state Democratic Party. Hawaii law requires the governor to chose replacements for legislative seats from lists sent by the party of the prior incumbent. Figueira and Kouchi will serve until voters choose new senators at the November 2 general election.

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