Senate confirms Governor's pick to lead OEQC

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While Democratic Rep. Jessica Wooley voted on measures in the state House, senators in the neighboring chamber were voting on her.

"I've personally sat across the conference committee table from her and found her to be intelligent, caring, capable and committed to doing what's best for our state," Sen. Mike Gabbard said.

Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Wooley to head the Office of Environmental Quality Control. Senator Clarence Nishihara believed she wasn't the right choice. He publicly accused Wooley of not keeping her word.

"Without trying to disparage her, comments that people made that they were concerned about her sense of integrity and her honesty. You can say that about a whole lot of people, about all kinds of issues, right?" he said.

"It's politics. You have to learn that anybody can say anything about you. And there's not much you can do about it," Wooley said.

Sources told Hawaii News Now that in a morning recess, Senate Democrats agreed to not criticize Wooley on the Senate floor before the vote. That didn't stop Republican Sen. Sam Slom from saying he's heard from people who say Wooley lacks balance.

"People in the farming and agricultural community. People in small business. Whether that's right or wrong, that is the perception," he said.

Wooley is an attorney and environmental advocate. She has been a state Representative since 2008. In the end, Senators confirmed her appointment by a 17 to 8 margin. Five senators voted yes with reservations.

"My first priority is just doing my job, doing the best job that I can," Wooley said afterwards.

Her one-year appointment runs through June of 2015.

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