Rep. Lynn DeCoite assumed the Senate seat representing parts of Maui county on Thursday, more than a month after it was vacated when J. Kalani English retired due to lingering effects from COVID-19.

Gov. David Ige praised DeCoite, a small-business owner, farmer and rancher from Hoolehua, Molokai, for her community activism.

“Lynn has served her constituents well in the House and she’s remained in touch with the community,” Ige said at a news conference. “I’m always amazed at how active Lynn is in advocating for her community.”

English, who was Senate majority leader, endorsed DeCoite when he retired in early May, citing long-term symptoms after he was infected with the coronavirus.

DeCoite fills the District 7 seat, representing Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

DeCoite is one of 10 women currently serving in the state Senate. She also is a former member of the Molokai Planning Commission, former PTSO president at Molokai Middle School and was a part of the Molokai Workforce Development Agriculture.

“She’s a real farmer as we like to joke about,” Senate President Ronald Kouchi said.

Rep Lynn DeCoite at DOE/education meeting at the Capitol.
Gov. David Ige appointed Rep. Lynn DeCoite to fill the vacant state Senate seat representing Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018

DeCoite was selected from three candidates including Maui County Council member Yuki Lei Sugimura and community leader Leo Caires.

DeCoite, who has a little over a year before the end of English’s term, said her top priority is looking at the state budget, vaccinations, and looking at businesses transitioning back into the economy.

She also said she will run for reelection for the Senate seat next year.

Ige has 60 days to name a replacement for DeCoite’s House seat after receiving three recommendations from the Democratic Party.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.

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