Cabinet jobs for lawmakers will mean more turnover in state House

It may be the largest turnover in more than two decades.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 5:42 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2022 at 12:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. Josh Green’s appointment of two veteran state lawmakers to cabinet posts will result in the largest turnover in the state House in more than two decades.

Green named former state Rep. James Tokioka as the Department of Transportation’s Deputy Director in charge of the state airports. Outgoing state Rep. Ryan Yamane will be Deputy Director at the Department of Human Resources Development.

The two have a combined 33 years of service in the House. Their departures will mean that more than a third of the House’s membership will be newcomers — the biggest turnover since 2001.

“What you lose when you lose those really experienced members is that kind of knowledge about how to manage the legislation — the kind of institutional knowledge,” said political analyst Colin Moore.

“At the same time, I think (the turnover) offers opportunities for younger members of the House to learn those skills. And certainly, the public is interested in things like term limits.”

At the DOT, Tokioka will oversee the state’s multi-billion dollar airport modernization plan.

“It’s an amazing operation. It is a city within a city,” Tokioka said of the state airports.

“And I’m really, really excited to work with the people at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Lihue Airport, Kahului, Hilo and Kona and the rest of the airports.”

Along with his experience as an elected official, Tokioka has also held management positions in the hotel and restaurant industries.

At DHRD, Yamane will oversee improvements needed in the state’s hiring processes. He has previously worked as a social worker and was the clinical director for the Hookupono Program.

Yamane said he hopes the person Green selects to replace him is a consensus builder.

“I would love to see somebody that’s committed to the community that has the dedication to listen to other constituent and will work hard with both the House and the Senate, as well as administration,” Yamane said.

Green has 60 days to appoint Tokioka’s and Yamane’s successor.