Ige appoints Hilo educator Acasio to Kahele’s former state Senate seat


Gov. David Ige on Tuesday announced the appointment of longtime educator Laura Clint Acasio to fill the state Senate District 1 seat that became vacant with the election of Kai Kahele to U.S. Congress.

The district includes the greater Hilo area.


Ige made the announcement during a press conference about COVID-19 vaccinations, and called Acasio “an engaged community leader who volunteers in a number of community organizations focusing on education, protection of our oceans and environment, among many of her passions.”

Acasio has been a substitute teacher for grades K-12 in Hawaii public schools since 1998, and has served in multiple leadership roles in the state Democratic Party, including House District 2 chair from 2018-20.

Her community work includes being a restoration volunteer for the women’s section of Hawaii Community Correctional Center, a restoration steward with Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, co-founder of the Hilo Boys and Girls Club Community, teen mentor and facilitator with the Nature Conservancy, and member of the Surfrider Foundation.

In addition, Acasio is an executive board member with Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo Public Charter School.

“I have every confidence in her ability to serve with integrity, and I look forward to working with her,” Ige said.

Senate President Ron Kouchi told reporters that Acasio will be sworn into office today when the Legislature convenes its 2021 session.

“The tradition, because Senate District 1 (and) House District 1 is where Kamehameha resided, they preside over the opening of the session,” Kouchi said. “So I did inform her that her very first duty as a member of the Hawaii state Senate will be to hold the gavel (and) convene the session.

“… With her community activism and her background as an educator, we’re looking forward to great contributions from her,”

In a statement, Acasio said she’s “honored and humbled” to be appointed.

“I commit myself to be of service and represent the voices of Senate District 1 as we face the coming challenges,” Acasio said. “I look forward to working closely with fellow Hawaii state legislators and our community at large.”


Acasio will serve out the remainder of Kahele’s term, which ends in 2022.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiittribune-herald.com.

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