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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 15, 2002

Ken Ito named majority whip

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

After four years as head of the House education committee, Rep. Ken Ito has stepped up to a leadership role as a majority whip and will lead the public safety and military affairs committee — one of the few major changes in the state House.

"I was chairman for four years, now we have all these young people, a whole bunch of young legislators got elected, so they put me in leadership," Ito, D-48th (Kane'ohe), said.

Rep. Roy Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City, Palisades), will replace Ito on the education committee, leaving his former Higher Education committee in the hands of Rep. K. Mark Takai, D-34th (Pearl City, Newtown, Royal Summit), who had been vice chairman.

After concentrating on education, Ito said it's time to get educated himself. While he is a veteran, he has never served on the military affairs committee and he welcomes the challenge.

The only other major change under the new House organizational structure announced yesterday was a swap in positions between Reps. Scott Saiki and Marcus Oshiro.

"For the most part it was a status quo lineup," said Saiki, D-22nd (McCully, Pawa'a), who is now majority leader, replacing Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa), a majority whip who now heads Saiki's former committee on labor and public employment.

Rep. Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Wilhelmina Rise) will remain house speaker and Rep. Sylvia Luke, D-26th (Punchbowl, Pacific Heights, Nu'uanu Valley) will continue as vice speaker. Rep. Marilyn Lee, D-38th (Mililani, Mililani Mauka) will also stay on as majority floor leader.

Other majority whips are Reps. Jun Abinsay, D-29th (Kalihi, Sand Island); Bob Herkes, D-5th (Ka'u, S. Kona); Bertha Kawakami, D-16th (Po'ipu, Waimea, Ni'ihau); Bob Nakasone,D-9th (Kahului, Pa'ia); Blake Oshiro, D-33rd (Halawa, 'Aiea, Pearlridge) and Brian Schatz, D-25th (Makiki, Tantalus).

With 17 standing committees, including a new international affairs committee, most of the 36 democrats ended up with chairman or vice chairman positions, including the newly elected representatives.

"We have a diverse group of freshmen. They're eager to work. They bring a lot of experience with them to the Legislature," Saiki said. "For the most part we've slotted them in the areas of interest to them."

Saiki said the legislators look forward to working with Gov.-elect Linda Lingle. "We're excited to see what kinds of proposals she's going to bring to the table," he said.