Less than a year after taking office, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has lost his top two aides to resignation. Chief of staff Amy Asselbaye and Deputy Chief of Staff Andrew Aoki are stopping down, joining a growing list of departed Abercrombie administration officials.
“Asselbaye and Aoki informed Governor Abercrombie earlier this week of their decision to resign
in order to spend more time with their families and young children. Asselbaye has three children; Aoki has two young children,” Abercrombie’s office said in a press release Thursday afternoon.
The governor named state Comptroller Bruce Coppa as Asselbaye’s successor and said a search will begin for a new comptroller.
“Amy and Andrew and their families have sacrificed for years on behalf of the people of Hawaii and I respect their desires to want to reconnect with their families,” Abercrombie said.
“The two of them have helped me make the transition from the campaign to governing. I’m sure the transition to continued leadership in the Governor’s Office will be a smooth one,” Abercrombie’s written statement said.
Asselbaye worked for Abercrombie for more than 18 years, with most of that service in his Washington, D.C. Congressional office, then moved with him to the governor’s office following his successful election campaign last year.
Aoki played a large role in that election effort, serving as Abercrombie’s deputy campaign manager.
Other departures from the administration have included Dr. Neal Palafox, who resigned as Health Department director before he was confirmed by the state Senate; Sunshine Topping, who resigned last month as head of the Department of Human Resources Development; Ed Texeira, vice director of state Civil Defense, who suddenly quit this week; and Robert “Bobby” Hall, deputy chairman of the Hawaiian Home Lands Department, who stepped down earlier this year in the wake of questions about departmental equipment purchases.
Another high-level state official who recently quit is Denise Wise, director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.
Cathy Takase, acting head of the state Office of Information Practices, was given her walking papers by Abercrombie in March.
Texeira, Wise and Takase held their positions before Abercrombie took office.