LOS ANGELES — Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie on Thursday appointed Senate President Shan Tsutsui as lieutenant governor.
Tsutsui will replace Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Daniel Inouye.
Inouye, who died Dec. 17 at age 88, had served in Congress since the moment of Hawaii's statehood in 1959.
"Shan's acceptance reflects this administration's commitment to represent all the people of Hawaii as a statewide community, not one that is Oahu-centric," Abercrombie said in a statement. "As demonstrated during his time in the legislature and most recently as Senate president, Shan is extremely effective in bringing various parties together to benefit all the people of Hawaii."
Tsutsui, 41, was the first state senate president from Maui as well as the youngest. Elected to the Senate in 2002 to represent Hawaii's 4th senatorial district, his previous leadership positions included vice chair of the state senate's Ways and Means Committee and Majority Caucus Leader.
"The decision to leave the state Senate was not a choice I made lightly, but I am eager to make a meaningful contribution to the future of Hawaii as Lt. Governor," Tsutsui said in a statement. "There is much work to be done in the Senate, but I have full confidence in my colleagues at the legislature. I look forward to working with them this session in my new role."
Plans are underway to establish an additional Office of the Lt. Governor on Maui, expanding the office's reach and accessibility to all island communities. The Office of the Lt. Governor will continue to conduct business in the state capitol in Honolulu.
"In the past, neighbor island elected officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve," Abercrombie said. "In my view, this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together and the state's IT transformation plan affords greater opportunities to conduct state business from all islands."
Tsutsui earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Hawaii in 1994. He and his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, reside on Maui with their three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna.