Senate Democrats and House Republicans select new leadership

Sen. Shan Tsutsui
Sen. Shan Tsutsui
Donna Mercado Kim
Donna Mercado Kim
David Ige
David Ige
Sam Slom
Sam Slom

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The State Senate has a new leader.  Colleen Hanabusa is off to Congress and remaining state senators didn't waste any time naming her replacement.  The majority of Senate Democrats voted for Shan Tsutsui as the next Senate President.

"Whether you're a democrat or republican in the senate it will be my job to make sure we all work together," said Tsutsui.

The Maui senator represents Wailuku and Kahului.  He's been in the State Senate since 2002.  He was the vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee and was selected over Donna Mercado Kim who was the chair.  He also beat out Russell Kokubun who was the senate vice president last session.

"I wouldn't necessarily say leapfrog but one of the things you look at when you look at an organizational structure, is it's not just the senate president, it's all the other leadership assignments, it's the committee structure," explained Tsutsui.  "You're really voting on an entire organizational structure versus one position so that's basically what happened last night."

Tsutsui says he's humbled and excited to work with everyone.

"Senator Kim, Senator Kokubun, they're all on board. We talked this morning and they said they fully support this organizational structure and want to be a part of this team moving forward," said Tsutsui.

Mercado Kim will serve as vice president for the second time.  David Ige will chair the Ways and Means Committee.  Kokubun will chair the Water and Land Committee.

On the Republican side Sam Slom is the only member in the Senate from the GOP.

House Republicans made their new leadership appointments.  In a news release Republicans announced Gene Ward will be the Minority Leader.  Kymberly Pine will continue to serve as the Minority Floor Leader.  Cynthia Thielen remains the Assistant Minority Leader, Corinne Ching will be the Assistant Minority Floor Leader and Barbara Marumoto will be the Minority Policy Leader.  The three freshman George Fontaine, Aaron Johanson and Gil Riviere will serve as Whips.

"Our new Caucus is excited and united and ready to do the people's business, particularly regarding fiscal responsibility and job creation in the 2011 Session.  We are very pleased to have grown 33 1/3 percent representing the first net-gain in the size of caucus in 10 years," said Ward in a written statement.

House Democrats have not scheduled any meetings regarding leadership changes.

Next session begins the third Wednesday of January.

Below is a complete list of Senate leadership and committee chairs.


Shan Tsutsui

Vice President

Donna Mercado Kim

Ways & Means

David Ige

Ways & Means, Vice Chair

Michelle Kidani

Majority Leader

Brickwood Galuteria

Floor Leader

Les Ihara, Jr.

Caucus Leader

Ron Kouchi

Majority Whip

Suzanne Chun Oakland

Majority Whip

Will Espero

Judiciary and Labor

Clayton Hee

Commerce and Consumer Protection

Rosalyn Baker

Agriculture and Housing

Donovan Dela Cruz

Committee of Investigative Affairs

Donna Mercado Kim

Economic Development and Technology

Carol Fukunaga


Jill Tokuda

Energy and Environment

Mike Gabbard

Hawaiian Affairs

Brickwood Galuteria


Josh Green, M.D.

Human Services

Suzanne Chun Oakland

Public Safety and Military Affairs

Will Espero


Donna Mercado Kim

Transportation and International Affairs

J. Kalani English

Water and Land

Russell Kokubun

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