Gov. David Ige’s appointee to the District 1 state Senate seat pushed for Ige’s impeachment less than a year and a half ago through a change.org petition she posted on her public Facebook page.
Ige on Tuesday selected Laura Clint Acasio from a list of three candidates ranked by local Democratic Party officials that also included Chris Todd and Maureen Namaka Rawlins to serve out the remainder of former Sen. Kai Kahele’s term, which ends in 2022. The seat represents the greater Hilo area.
Acasio, a substitute teacher who has served in multiple leadership roles within the state Democratic Party and in nonprofits such as the Hilo Surfrider Foundation and Ka Umeke Kaeo Public Charter School, listed a number of priorities during her Dec. 23 presentation to the party officials, including a progressive state tax on extreme wealth, as well as actively addressing income equality and climate justice.
Her public Facebook page, however, has been more focused on her opposition to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea, including two July 19, 2019, posts criticizing the governor and accusing him of lying.
A third post that day included a link to a change.org petition and the words, “IMPEACH IGE!” in capital letters.
It’s not known if Ige knew about the posts before selecting Acasio, but his staff seemed unfazed by the newspaper’s questions Wednesday.
“Gov. Ige selected Ms. Acasio from a list of three names submitted to him by Hawaii Democratic Party officers in Senate District 1 on Hawaii Island. The governor stands by his appointment and believes that Ms. Acasio’s broad experience and active community engagement would best serve the district,” an Ige spokeswoman said in an email response. “He is ready to work with Ms. Acasio and all members of the Hawaii State Legislature in the best interest of the people of the state of Hawaii.”
Acasio was sworn in Wednesday morning, and as is customary for the holder of the District 1 seat, presided over the Senate until a Senate president was elected. She’s been assigned to these committees: Judiciary, Hawaiian Affairs, Human Services and Agriculture and Environment.
Acasio did not return detailed messages left with her Senate office staff and instant messaging.
Democratic Party Chairman Tyler Dos Santos-Tam said several people sent him Acasio’s change.org post.
“Senator Acasio is someone who is very passionate about the issues she cares about, and so it’s no surprise to me that on an issue like Maunakea and TMT, she would feel very strongly,” Dos Santos-Tam said.