Updated 

Naalehu physician appointed to state House


HONOLULU — A Naalehu physician fluent in Marshallese is replacing a Big Island member of the state House of Representatives who resigned for personal reasons.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Friday that he appointed Dr. Richard Creagan to the seat vacated by Denny Coffman. The seat represents Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua and Kailua-Kona.

Coffman said last month that he planned to spend time with family as his daughter faces a medical issue. The Democrat was first elected in 2008 and served three terms in the Legislature.

In addition to being a board-certified emergency physician, the new legislator is a farmer. He is vice president of Kiolakaa Mountain Farms, which he founded in 1994 with his wife, Marilyn, a labor and delivery nurse at Kona Community Hospital, according to the governor’s office.

He spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Marshall Islands. He first came to Hawaii in 1996 for Peace Corps training on Molokai for two months, Abecrombie’s office said.

Creagan moved to Hawaii full-time 23 years ago from California. He has worked at Kona Community Hospital in its emergency department and as vice-chief of staff. He helped found and run Hualalai Urgent Care.

His background also includes human genetics research, the governor’s office said. He’s also spent time as a teacher, including tutoring students learning English at Naalehu Elementary School.

“Richard’s diverse experience as a physician, researcher, farmer, Peace Corps volunteer and educator will contribute greatly to his service to the people of Hawaii,” Abercrombie said in a statement.

Creagan has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Yale University and a medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. In more recent years, he earned a certificate in plant tissue culture and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Creagan’s appointment is effective immediately for the remainder of Coffman’s term. Creagan’s name was one of three names to the governor by the Democratic party.