By Jim Bea Sampaga
Governor David Ige has appointed Bennette Misalucha to fill the late Senator Breene Harimoto’s state Senate District 16 seat. Sen. Harimoto died while in office on June 18, 2020.
Misalucha will be overseeing Senate District 16 which includes Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa and Pearl Harbour.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be appointed by Gov. Ige. I’m still trying to process it, but I am excited,” said Misalucha. “My great desire is to continue the meaningful work that Sen. Harimoto has started.”
Misalucha said her parents would have been so proud especially her father, a political science major, who passed away in 2005.
“When the call came from the Governor’s office, he was my first thought,” Misalucha shared. “I thought this would have been such an honor for him. He would’ve been so proud.”
Misalucha will represent Senate District 13 until a new senator is elected in November.
“I look forward to serving the people and constituents of Senate District 16 until November 3rd,” she said. “From that point on, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m still trying to decide whether I would put in my name for the election.”
During her swearing-in ceremony, Misalucha admits that she got teary-eyed.
“I wish my papa was alive. He was the one who told us to aim high. The sky is the limit, he used to say,” she shared. “[I can’t believe] how a girl from Mapagkalinga street can be seated as a State Senator. God is good and American dreams do come true.”
Misalucha is a community leader in Hawaii with executive experience in banking, marketing, public policy and community outreach. She has owned a business strategy and communications company since 2008. She was the Executive Director of Hawai’i Crop Improvement Association, Vice President and Regional Director for Government and Community Relations for Actus Lend Lease and also a former Senior Vice President and Senior Manager at Central Pacific Bank. She was also a television reporter and news producer for KHON Channel 2 News and in the Philippines early in her career.
Currently, she is the Chair of the Filipino Complete Count Committee, Director of Chaminade University Board of Regents, Director of Oahu Transit Services, Director of Hawaii Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Director of Filipino Community Center and President of Congress of Visayan Organizations.
She also volunteered as a member at Hawai’i Public Radio’s Community Advisory Board, Director of Friends of East West Center, Director of Oahu Arts Center, Chair of Girl Scout of Hawaii, Director of Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, Co-Chair of Hawai’i Summit Initiative and Director of Catholic Charities: Community & Immigrant Services Board.
With her deep involvement in the community, she earned numerous distinctions such as “Woman of Distinction” from the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, “Progress Awards in Baking and Finance” from the United Filipino Community Council, “State Mother of the Year” from American Mothers Inc., “Woman of the Year: Advocate for Higher Education” from Filipino Women’s Civic Club and one of top “Ten Women Volunteers in Hawai’i” from Pacific Business News.
She graduated from University of Hawaii and the BIA Graduate School of Retail Banking at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also attended the University of Washington Pacific Coast Banking School.
Born in Manila and raised in Davao and Cebu, Misalucha is a daughter of a schoolteacher, Avelina Espineli, and an insurance executive, Benjamin Robledo. She has two adult children, Christian and Danielle.