HONOLULU, HAWAII – Gov. Linda Lingle today appointed Laura Figueira to fill the vacant O‘ahu North Shore Senate seat and Ronald Kouchi to fill the vacant Kaua‘i Senate seat. They will serve on a temporary basis until new Senators are elected in the upcoming General Election and take the oath of office. The two vacancies were created by the resignation of Robert Bunda and Gary Hooser in July.
“I have known Laura and Ron for many years, and I look forward to working with them,” Governor Lingle said. “I appreciate their willingness to represent their respective districts and serve our state on an interim basis,” she added.
Figueira, who will represent Senate District 22 (Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Hale‘iwa, Mokulē‘ia, North Shore), worked for former Senator Bunda for 14 years, including six years as chief of staff while Bunda was Senate President. She continued to serve as community liaison during Bunda’s tenure as Senate President Emeritus. In addition to overseeing the administrative and legislative affairs of the office, she represented the former Senator at neighborhood board and community association meetings, as well as served as his delegate on various ad hoc committees. Although Bunda resigned on July 16, Figueira has remained on staff while the office has continued to serve the district.
Figueira previously worked as the district director of the Honolulu office of the late Congressman Cec Heftel, as well as for the state Departments of Health and Labor and Industrial Relations.
She is a member of the Sunset Beach Community Association and the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. She is a past president of the Hale‘iwa Arts Festival; past president and current vice president of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i; and past president and current treasurer of the Hawai‘i Council on Portuguese Heritage.
Figueira attended University of Hawai‘i Hilo when it was a two-year school and transferred to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where she graduated with a degree in psychology.
Kouchi, who will represent District 7 (Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau), served for 22 years (11 terms) as a Kaua‘i County Councilman, including 12 years as Council Chair. Currently, he is a registered representative of LPL Insurance Brokerage Company and is also the director of community relations for Showe Land and Marine LLC.
Kouchi was a member of the Legislative Committee of the Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce and previously served as a lobbyist for the County of Kaua‘i at the Hawai‘i State Legislature.
He is a former director of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, served on the boards of the Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital and YMCA, and chaired the Wilcox Health Foundation’s capital campaign. He also worked as a legislative analyst for former Rep. Dennis Yamada in 1982. Kouchi attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Governor Lingle selected Figueira and Kouchi from two lists that were provided to her by the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i. The Governor was required under a law passed by the Legislature in 2006 to select a replacement for each vacant seat from separate lists of three prospective candidates submitted by the same political party as the prior incumbent. The Democratic Party submitted the two lists of names to the Governor on August 16, 2010 and the Governor sought public comments on the individuals.
Lenny Klompus is the Senior Advisor – Communications for Gov. Linda Lingle