Maui Election

Bissen announces selection of deputy managing director, additional appointments

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Josiah Nishita.

Mayor-elect Richard Bissen announced the appointment of Josiah Nishita as deputy managing director, as well as the appointments of first deputies for the Department of the Corporation Counsel and the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, Budget Director, and Economic Development Director.

His latest round of appointments include the following:

  • Josiah Nishita, Deputy Director, Department of Management
  • Sonya Toma as First Deputy, Department of the Corporation Counsel
  • Shelly Miyashiro as First Deputy, Department of the Prosecuting Attorney
  • Maria Zielinksi as Budget Director
  • Luana Mahi as Economic Development Director
Sonya Toma, First Deputy, Department of the Corporation Counsel (left); Luana Mahi as Economic Development Director (middle); and Maria Zielinksi as Budget Director (right).

Josiah Nishita has served as the deputy managing director for the County of Maui since 2020. For eight years he was with the Office of the County Clerk, nearly seven years as deputy before serving as County Clerk. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from George Fox University and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Hawaiʻi Shidler College of Business.

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Sonya Toma earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon. She has been with the State of Hawaiʻi Deputy Attorney General since 2021 and previously was a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, an attorney in private practice, and a deputy public defender with the State of Hawaiʻi, Maui Office and Hilo Office.

Shelly Miyashiro earned her Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Bloomington School of Law and has been with the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney since 2016. For 14 years she worked as a deputy for the Office of the Public Defender.

Maria Zielinksi most recently served as director of the Office of Council Services for the County of Maui. She previously worked as the Director of Taxation and Deputy Comptroller for the State of Hawaiʻi and held the position of Chief Financial Officer for the California School Employees Association, the largest classified employee union in the United States. She served as Chief Financial Officer for Haleakalā Ranch, Baldwin Pacific Corporation, Haleakalā Dairy and Farm Credit Banks. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from City University of New York Brooklyn College.

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For 17 years Luana Mahi has owned and operated Hawaiian Isles Unlimited LLC dba Kismet Natural Foods Brokerage, a natural, organic and grocery marketing company with national and international brands. She serves as president and executive director of the Maui Food Technology Center; a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created 18 years ago to stimulate and support entrepreneurship.

“With the continuity of Josiah as deputy managing director, it will help our administration’s transition,” said Mayor-elect Bissen. ”And with the important work that our legal teams from the Office of the Corporation Counsel and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office do, I’m pleased to have the caliber of attorneys such as Sonya and Shelly become part of their leadership team.

“The Budget Office and Office of Economic Development will see new directors in my administration. I’m looking forward to the different perspective Luana will bring with her as she focuses on economic development opportunities and having Maria serve as budget director as we begin our year heading into council budget hearings is a great advantage,” said Mayor-elect Bissen.

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While appointed department directors require confirmation by the County Council, these appointments do not.

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