HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii House of Representatives on Wednesday announced the passing of former state House Representative Diana "Mele" Carroll. She died at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, February 18, with her family at her side.
Representative Carroll was re-elected on November 4, 2014 to begin her sixth term, representing the 13th House district. The 13th District is a true canoe district that includes East Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe and Molokini.
“It is a very sad day for the House,” said Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “Mele brought to the Legislature a vigorous desire to serve and deep love for Maui, Molokai and Lanai and Hawaii in general. She will be greatly missed by everyone here at the Capitol. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”
In 2005 Representative Mele Carroll started her legislative career when she received a phone call from then Governor Linda Lingle in February to represent the 13th District in the state House of Representatives. At the time she was working as the chief legislative liaison for Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of Mele's passing,” Mayor Arakawa said. “She has been a tremendous friend for several decades now, having worked with her on the Council, on the Legislature, and especially as one of my Executive Assistants during my first mayoral term. She was a great advocate for the people of Maui County, and for the State of Hawaii. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with her family during this time of grief.”
Prior to her appointment in 2005 by Governor Lingle, Rep. Carroll was responsible for representing the County of Maui at the Legislature by providing oral and written testimony, researching and drafting bills, as well as providing community updates through public forums and meetings.
As Arakawa's chief legislative liaison, she was also responsible for writing a federal grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for $2 million dollars that contributed to the purchase of Muolea Point (73 acres) in Hana, and worked with the community to develop a management plan to preserve Muolea Point, which was known as King David Kalakaua's summer home for the Alii.
Rep. Carroll served as the chair of the House Committee on Human Service (HUS) and as a member for the Committees on Health (HLT) and Housing (HSG). In her tenure as a state House Representative she has also been the chair of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, and a member of the Women's Legislative Caucus, Keiki Caucus, Kupuna Caucus, as well as the Historical Preservation Caucus.
"I believe that Maui has lost a very good representative, a person who had the whole state in her heart," said Senator Gilbert Kahele.
Rep. Carroll was a key leader and instrumental in helping secure funding for the new emergency medical helicopter service for Maui County, working with a bi-partisan coalition of community leaders.
She served as chief of staff to State Senator Kalani English for two years, in addition to serving four years as his chief of staff at the Maui County Council. She also served on the state's Cable Television Advisory Committee and the Na Ala Hele Trails Council.
"I'm going to miss her a lot. And my condolences to her family and to everyone that loved Mele. Truly a great great woman that stood for her people and stood for Hawaii," said Senator English.
Rep. Carroll's community service includes serving on the following boards of non-profit organizations: past president of the Waikikena Foundation; past president of the Maui AIDS Foundation; past vice president for the Friends of Maui County Health Organization; past board director of the `Aha Ali`i Kapuaiwa O Kamehameha V Royal Order of Kamehameha II; past board director for the Maui Adult Day Care Center; member of the Aloha Festivals Maui Steering Committee; past board director of the Na Po'e Kokua; and Paia Youth & Cultural Center. She also served as the head coach of the Lahainaluna High School's Girls Varsity Basketball team.
The former representative stated many times that serving the people of Hawaii and the 13th District was a "tremendous honor" that she would never forget, and spoke of her position and the people she serve with great admiration. The love that she showed everyone epitomized the Aloha Spirit.
Carroll resigned February 1, saying complications from her previous cancer treatments had arisen in recent months.
"She was a dear friend. She's going to be missed. I think her legacy of caring for the people of Hawaii is going to be carried by many of her colleagues as we do the work of the 2015 legislative session," said State Representative Della Au Belatti.