Hawaiian former congressional candidate appointed to state position

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October 15, 2012


By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: Governor Neil Abercrombie announced on October 8, 2012, the appointment of Esther Puakela Kia'aina to the deputy director position of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). Kiaaina fills the vacancy left by Guy Kaulukukui who resigned in August 2012. She officially takes over her position on October 15, 2012.[1]

In the announcement Gov. Neil Abercrombie stated, “Kiaaina is committed to public service and is passionate about our land and natural resources. Her breadth of experience in policy and land management complements what we are doing in our New Day plans.”[1]

Kiaaina competed in the Democratic primary to determine the nominee to represent Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District.[2] She lost the primary election to former Honolulu councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard.[2]

Kiaaina replaces Guy Kaulukukui, who resigned in August 2012 after he was named senior vice president and head of Hawaii operations for land investment company Bio-Logical Capital.[3][1] The Department of Land and Natural Resources is headed by Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila.[1] “I couldn’t be happier knowing that Esther will be a part of the DLNR team,” stated DLNR Director William Aila. “She is eager to get to work and I’m looking forward to working with her.”[1]

Kiaaina has served as chief advocate of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and a land asset manager of the Kamehameha Schools’ land assets division, and has also worked for Senator Daniel Akaka and former U.S. Representative Ed Case.[1]

Kiaaina is a graduate of the University of Southern California, holding bachelor’s degrees in political science and international relations.[4] She also holds a juris doctor from the George Washington University Law School.[4]

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