Lingle fills vacant
House seat

Democrat Mele Carroll, an aide
to the Maui mayor, will represent
the 13th District

WAILUKU » Mele Carroll, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa's chief legislative liaison, is scheduled to be sworn in Monday to succeed state Rep. Sol Kaho'ohalahala.

Carroll, 40, a Democrat from East Maui and a 1982 graduate of Campbell High School on Oahu, is expected to take the oath of office at noon in the state House chambers.

Gov. Linda Lingle made the announcement of Carroll's appointment yesterday. Lingle, a Republican, was required by law to pick a successor of the same party as Kaho'ohalahala, a Democrat.

Kaho'ohalahala, who supported Carroll's selection, resigned Jan. 6 as the state House member for the 13th District (Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, East Maui) to become the executive director of the state Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

Before becoming Arakawa's legislative liaison, Carroll worked as chief of staff for Democrat Kalani English for six years, while English served as a Maui County Council member and later as state senator for the 6th District (East Maui, Lanai and Molokai).

Sen. English said he was happy about Carroll's appointment to the post.

"She knows the district, its people and the issues that affect the lives of her constituents," he said. "She's a dedicated and capable public servant."

Some Valley Isle elected officials have praised Carroll for her work in helping to secure the new air ambulance for Maui County and writing a federal grant to obtain $2 million toward the purchase of land at historic Muolea Point in East Maui.

Working under the Arakawa administration, Carroll has also concentrated on health-related topics and issues affecting East Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

With Arakawa being a Republican, Carroll said that when she was asked to join his administration, he did not talk about political parties, but focused on helping people.

"I took the job because this is what I wanted to do, serve the people the best way I could," she said.

Carroll said that before taking office she plans to resign her membership on the State Cable Television Advisory Committee and will be reviewing her volunteer roles with other groups.

She ran unsuccessfully in November against incumbent Robert Carroll for the East Maui seat on the County Council.

Lingle invited interested candidates to submit their resumes if they wanted to apply for the vacated House seat. Bipartisan screening panels narrowed the field to five, then three before Lingle made the final selection.

Arakawa praised Lingle for reaching out to Democrats in developing a selection process.

Arakawa said he is sad that Carroll is leaving his administration, but happy for her.

"I think she'll be a tremendous asset," he said.

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