Shan Tsutsui to Resign as Lieutenant Governor

Updated at 9:45 a.m., January 31, to include a statement from Attorney General Doug Chin.

Shan S. Tsutsui has announced his resignation as Lieutenant Governor, effective January 31.

Tsutsui will be returning to Maui and will be joining Strategies 360, a public affairs, strategic communications and research firm with offices in Hawai`i, 11 other Western states and Washington D.C as a Senior Vice-President. 

His statement in full is as follows:

“With a grateful, yet heavy heart I am announcing today that I will be resigning as the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai`i, effective January 31, 2018. Over the past 15 years, it has been my honor and privilege to have served the people of Hawai`i, first as a State Senator from Maui and Senate President, and currently as your Lieutenant Governor.  Throughout that time, I have always been mindful of the tremendous responsibility that comes with public office.  I have greatly appreciated the trust and confidence that was bestowed upon me and have done my best to build a better Hawaii through collaboration and hard work, while honoring our shared core values of honesty, integrity and respect. 

“As Senate President, I was fortunate to draw upon my many years in the Senate and the relationships that I had established to exhibit a collaborative style of leadership, and I did my best to ensure that all Senators were respected and heard.  As your Lieutenant Governor, I have continued to work cooperatively with leaders in the public and private sectors, as well as members of the public, with that same level of respect and attention.   During this time, I am proud to have established the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture and Health (R.E.A.C.H.) initiative to support after-school programs for middle and intermediate public school students.  As a father, I was especially concerned with ensuring that middle school students engage in positive activities and relationships during hours when many are left unsupervised because their parents are working.  Since 2013, R.E.A.C.H. has invested approximately $2.75M in more than 40 public middle and intermediate schools, including charter schools, statewide, reaching thousands of students.  Funds have helped to provide robotics programs; hula, ukulele, music and other dance lessons; basketball, soccer, wrestling and other sports; cooking, fishing, art, and hydroponics; and many other clubs and programs.  Participating students have shown improved attendance, attitude, behavior and even grades. 

“Additionally, I was excited to have taken the reigns of the Farm to School Initiative, which we have developed into the ‘Aina Pono: Hawai‘i’s Farm to Cafeteria Initiative,’ to increase the purchase and consumption of local food in our school cafeterias.  With an enthusiastic team of advisors and ‘doers,’ along with support from the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, private partners such as The Kohala Center, and many other generous donors, a burgeoning pilot project was launched to infuse local foods and flavors into our school menus, while providing healthier options for our keiki.  As the project continues to grow and expand throughout the State, the effects will have a lasting impact on our keiki, the agriculture industry, and the state’s procurement processes.  

“Throughout my time in office, it has been an absolute pleasure to have had the opportunity to meet so many talented and inspiring individuals.  I have witnessed firsthand the many hardworking families who fight traffic in their daily commutes, while holding down multiple jobs to provide a better life for their keiki; the bright, dedicated students who not only excel in Hawaii but can also compete with their counterparts nationally; and the small businesses and farms using innovative and entrepreneurial ideas to revitalize family businesses.  You have all inspired me and helped to make me a better person and leader.  I will cherish these experiences and lessons and carry them with me throughout my life. 

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the people of Hawaii for the opportunity to have served you all these years.  Truly, I have been blessed with the support of so many individuals, family and friends.  I especially thank my incredible family—my wife, children, parents and extended ohana for their tremendous love, support and many sacrifices over the years.  I would like to thank Governor Ige for the privilege of serving in his Administration.  To Neil and Nancy, Lyndelle and I thank you for your friendship and kindness and the love you have shared with our daughters.  I also send my aloha to my former colleagues in the Legislature and the tens of thousands of public employees throughout the State for their hard work and dedication to the people of Hawaii.  Finally, a big mahalo to my staff and security for your unwavering devotion and enduring commitment to the office and to helping me best serve the people of the State.  Your hard work did not go unnoticed, and I will be forever grateful to each of you.

“In his remarks commemorating the 75th Pearl Harbor anniversary, President Barack Obama noted, ‘we cannot choose the history that we inherit.  But we can choose what lessons to draw from it, and use those lessons to chart our own futures.’  Accordingly, it’s my hope that we will continue to acknowledge the rich history of our State, and remain grateful for the contributions and sacrifices of generations past; that we will explore new ways to invest in our residents, businesses, and communities to make them more sustainable, competitive, and economically robust.   And as I leave public service, I look forward to continuing to be a part of Hawaii’s future and helping to forge a new path that honors our shared beliefs and my continued commitment to improving the lives of the people of Hawaii.”

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi released the following statement on receiving the news that Shan Tsutsui will resign:

“While it was known that Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui would not be seeking re-election to his current office, being informed that the effective date of his resignation is in two days leaves me with mixed emotions.  While I am personally happy that Shan is able to spend more time with his family, who has sacrificed in order for Shan to serve Maui, the State Senate, and the State of Hawai‘i, I am professionally saddened because Shan’s resignation leaves a gaping hole in our current political fabric.

With regard to the soon to be vacant Office of the Lieutenant Governor, I am not interested in becoming the next Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai‘i.”

Statement from Governor David Ige:

“It is with a mixture of sadness and gratitude that I learned of Shan’s decision to step down from his position as lieutenant governor. He has dedicated the last 15 years to serving the people of Hawai‘i. As lieutenant governor he has worked tirelessly on Aloha Stadium and the Farm to School Initiative in our effort to boost local food production in our state. I also applaud Shan’s effort to support after-school programs in our public schools. I wish Shan and his family the very best always.”

House of Representatives Speaker Scott K. Saiki released the following statement:

“I thank Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui for his years of public service to the people of Maui as a State Senator, as well as Senate President, and as Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii,” said Saiki. “I wish him well in his future endeavors. I have no desire to be the next Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii.”

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin on Wednesday released the following statement regarding the upcoming vacancy for the office of state lieutenant governor:

“I will announce my decision regarding the lieutenant governor vacancy by the end of the week. In the meantime, I have been in direct contact with Governor Ige, Lieutenant Governor Tsutsui, and his staff. The work of the LG’s office will continue. I congratulate Shan on his next chapter and applaud his many years in public office.”