(WAILUKU, Maui)—Governor Josh Green, M.D. today announced Troy Hashimoto as the Senate successor to Gil Keith-Agaran, who resigned from the post effective Oct. 31. Hashimoto said he would continue to work on key areas of affordable housing, education and health care in his new capacity.
Hashimoto currently serves as a Representative with the state House, where he is a member of the committees on Housing, Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs and Transportation. He first was appointed to the House in 2018 to fill the remainder of the term for the seat left vacant by longtime lawmaker Joseph M. Souki.
“It has been exceptional to see your leadership on housing, to see how you fight for Maui, to know that there is someone of such great conscience and care for the people,” said Gov. Green in a press conference held Thursday morning in Wailuku.
Hashimoto will serve until results of the 2024 election season, as ordered by the state’s Chief Election Officer.
Gov. Green described the current time as critical an expressed appreciation for all of those who applied, including Jason Alexander Economou and Justin V.E. Hughey who were also considered for the post.
“We thought it was very important that we had a steady hand who could help deliver for the community as we rebuild Lahaina we have an excellent additional senator now to fight for resources, to share with my team what the day-to-day needs will be in addition to the council, the mayor and the rest of the delegation,” said Gov. Green.
“After Aug. 8 happened, I think a whole new level of complexities happened,” said Hashimoto. “I think we need to really focus on how we are going to proceed here on Maui, and of course throughout the state… It really is about working together to find common ground and solutions because we have just so much at stake for us today and for our future generations.”
The governor had until Dec. 30th to make a selection from the list forwarded to him by the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i. When asked the reasoning for the speedy appointment, Gov. Green said, “I felt strongly that we shouldn’t delay. We needed to have a senator in office and engaged so that he can begin to help us put the package together for Maui. We intend to have some of the initial drafts of the Maui Recovery Package in legislation going in this month. We want to have those details and we need his manaʻo (thoughts) on this.”
In addition, Gov. Green said he departs for Japan on a state mission with the state’s First Lady next week and wanted to make sure that the senate selection was in place. “Also, if we’re fortunate enough, we have some Supreme Court Justices and others that we need to help the state of Hawaiʻi going forward. I have so much trust in him, it was easy for me to choose a person who I already felt was a colleague. But he now has to help us lead and probably advise on who should be the next representative,” said Gov. Green.
Prior to his role in the state House, Hashimoto served for nearly eight years as the executive assistance to former Council Chair Mike White, chair of the Maui County Democratic Party for four years, and a member of the state Board of Education from 2004-2005.
“I think being a former party chair here on Maui, I entrust that into party members here on Maui. Their role is to give three names and I think we’ll go through that process and see who is interested and hopefully they will give a stellar list to the governor,” said Hashimoto, noting the timeline starts today.
He didn’t have any immediate recommendations to share for potential endorsements for his house seat. The Democratic Party of Hawai‘i will submit three names to the governor within 30 days, to fill the House vacancy created by Hashimoto’s appointment.
When asked how his role in the Senate will differ from that in the House, Hashimoto said, “What I’ve been doing is working hard every single day for Central Maui and all of Maui County and the state of Hawaiʻi. I think for me, it’s a little bit of a bigger district, but I think functionally, it’s still keeping focus on all the issues we have at hand.”
Hashimoto said focus will remain on topics like schools, health care and affordable housing. “I think we do need a new central Maui middle school and expansion of our current schools. I think a lot of our schools are bursting at the seems, so that will be a top priority,” he said.
“We will have to work with the hospital. That will continue to be a big issue, bringing down their subsidy funds that they get from the state,” said Hashimoto.
“Obviously the big issue that the governor and I have been working very closely on is affordable housing. We are targeting the Waikapū area as an area where we really want to see large scale development. That’s the heart of central Maui—where the next phase will be, where people can live. So we have to get that to the finish line. There’s a lot of moving pieces to that, but we’re getting closer and closer, and so I think we need to stay focused,” said Hashimoto.
Representative Troy Hashimoto was born and raised on Maui and and grew up working on his family’s persimmon farm. He earned a bachelor’s and Master of Business Administration from the University of Denver.
Gov. Green said Hashimoto’s appointment creates an additional synergy. “Troy, who already had the wherewithal to make housing a priority and has been chair in the House (committee), his capacity combined with the finance chair in the House, Rep. [Kyle] Yamashita, is a very potent mix. We’ve seen that combo happen a couple of times in the past with previous paired leaders on Maui. It makes it possible for us to bring extra projects to Maui, and in the wake of the Lahaina wildfire, it’s going to be more important than ever,” said Gov. Green.
“I’m going to lean very heavily on the Senator to help navigate relationships with the council… We want these relationships to continue, and we really hope that in the coming, say 24-36 months, many housing projects can get approved for the good of the entire County,” said Gov. Green.