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Friday, March 1, 2024
Rep Bert Kobayashi to Retire from Legislature
By News Release @ 5:00 PM :: 1863 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Politicians


News Release from Rep Bert Kobayashi, March 1, 2024

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Representative Bertrand Kobayashi (D-20 Lē‘ahi, Kāhala, Wai‘alae, Kaimukī, Kapahulu) today announced that he will not seek another term in the State House and intends to retire on November 5, 2024, at the end of his present term.

Rather than participating in media interviews, he has chosen to issue a personal statement:

"In December 2023, I had a mini-cerebrovascular incident, and while the aftereffects may not be overtly visible, it serves as a reminder that I must prioritize my health for both the short and long term, as my condition may tend to worsen with time and age.

I'm announcing my decision to not seek re-election because the official nomination process for elected officials runs from February 1 to June 4, 2024, and I want to ensure ample time for a smooth transition to the next State Representative for House District 20.

Our District's incoming representative will face the challenges of working to reverse the economic marketplace forces that make affordable housing difficult, challenging "Mother Nature" on global warming and invasive species, and realigning cultural and society-wide factors that diminish criminal justice, quality education, and the pursuit of happiness.

I can only hope that my successor will continue my efforts to remain accessible and responsive to all district residents, fostering informed dialogue even when opinions differ. All of Hawai‘i benefits when we collectively, in our roles as voters and policymakers, take the time and care to dive deeply into understanding the challenges we face.

I am honored to have served in both chambers of the Hawai‘i State Legislature for a combined total of 28 years.  I first served in the House (1978-1982) and Senate (1982 -1994).  I left initially to facilitate the Community Hospitals Division's transition to an independent agency within the State, and later served in various other government and nonprofit policy and advocacy positions.

After an absence of 18 years, I returned to the House from 2012 to the present. As I reflect on my tenure as a legislator, I take pride in the work we've done to make Hawai‘i a better place for us all.  Some of these highlights include participating in pushing Hawai‘i's first hotel room tax as a Senate conferee, implementing the biggest increases in construction funding to improve our public schools in the early 1990s, working on the State hospital corporation which was the most autonomous State agency to that date, supporting the $100+ million construction of Kapiʻolani Community College, drafting the School-based Community Management bill which allowed for community input into school management (Waiʻalae Elementary Charter School), contributing to major decreases in smoking and tobacco use via tobacco tax increases and other policies, and finally in 2006, implementing the Indoor Smoke-Free law.

I am exceedingly grateful to my constituents for their unwavering support, trust, and patience in allowing me to represent them in the Hawai‘i State Legislature for 28 years. Similar appreciation is due to my legislative colleagues and staff, and to all who make the Legislature operate. Mahalo nui loa to each and every one of you."


Background Information

While not holding an elected official seat, Representative Kobayashi fulfilled various roles in his career during the specified periods:

1972-1975: Assistant Professor of Government, American University
1994 – 1997: Deputy Director of Department of Health, Community Hospitals Administration
2006: Director of Advocacy and Grants for the American Lung Association
2008: Grant Writer for Pacific Gateway Center
2009: Legislative Staffer for Councilmember Duke Bainum
2010: Legislative Aide for Representative Karl Rhoads

Representative Kobayashi also played a pivotal role in the enactment of various measures:

Hawaiʻi's Living Will Law
Nursing Homes Without Walls Law
HIV Confidentiality Laws
Indoor Smoke-Free Law


HNN: After nearly 3 decades, State Representative Kobayashi announces decision to retire


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