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Who will take Tsutsui’s place?

SHAN TSUTSUI, Two men decline position

The Maui News – The first Hawaii lieutenant governor from Maui, Shan Tsutsui, left the office Wednesday while his replacement remains up in the air.

The next two people in line to replace Tsutsui according to the Hawaii Constitution, state Senate President Ron Kouchi and state House Speaker Scott Saiki, have declined the position.

State Attorney General Doug Chin, who is seeking the 1st U.S. Congressional District seat, is next in line and said Wednesday he will announce his decision “by the end of the week.”

“In the meantime, I have been in direct contact with Gov. Ige, Lt. Gov. Tsutsui and his staff,” Chin said in the news release. “The work of the LG’s office will continue. I congratulate Shan on his next chapter and applaud his many years in public office.”

The line of succession after Chin becomes murky because several officials hold interim titles and have not been confirmed by the state Senate. Following the attorney general in the line of succession is the finance director, but Wes Machida retired in December and his replacement, Laurel Johnston, has not been confirmed so is not eligible.

State Comptroller Roderick Becker would be next up, followed by the tax director and the director of human resources, both of whom are ineligible for the lieutenant governor’s position because they are interim directors.

Linda Chu Takayama took over the tax department in December, when Maria Zielinski resigned in the wake of issues related to the replacement of the department’s computer system. Ryker Wada became interim director of the Department of Human Resources Development in December following the retirement of James Nishimoto.

On Monday, Tsutsui, a Maui High School graduate, made the surprise announcement that he would not be completing the remainder of his term, which ends in December. He had announced in October that he would not be seeking re-election this year and would not pursue the open Maui County mayor seat.

In an interview with The Maui News in October, Tsutsui said that he wanted to return to Maui to be involved in the lives of his two children still at home. His oldest child began college in Oregon last year.

He will be returning to Maui and joining Seattle-based Strategies 360, a company that offers targeted public affairs, strategic communications and research services. The company has experts drawn from the worlds of government, politics, the news media, quantitative and qualitative research, advertising, marketing and creative design.

He will be senior vice president of the company, which has offices in Hawaii and 11 other western states and Washington, D.C.

Tsutsui, 46, was elected to the state Senate from Maui in 2002, rose to Senate president in 2010 and then lieutenant governor in 2012.

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