Political Succession Debate Stirs at the Capitol

(KHNL)  In most cases, when a lawmaker leaves office the governor names a replacement. Some say that process needs work.

"We've seen in the past that some appointments have been made really listening to the community and some appointments have been made ignoring the wishes of the community," said Rep. Brian Schatz.

Schatz supports a new proposal calling for the governor to work off a list prepared by the party of a departing lawmaker when filling a vacancy.

Governor Linda Lingle said whoever serves in the governor's office should be free to develop their own process for filling legislative vacancies.

"The process we have in place is a good one," Lingle said. "I don't think we should recreate a process just for me whereas every previous governor had some latitude, and I think that should continue."

Recent appointee Rep. Bev Harbin said it's wrong to trust political parties. Democrats did not recommend putting Harbin in the State House.

"I personally don't like the idea because the whole political appointment process within the parties is very tainted," Harbin said.

Lingle consulted with Republicans before appointing Anne Stevens to the State House last month.

"It's probably a safer bet for the governor to reach out to a committee composed of people in the party of the selectee," Stevens said.

Supporters say the proposal would protect the public.

"This is not about any particular representative or senator or council member, this is about the neighborhoods that are being represented," Schatz said.