POSTED: 9:27 p.m. HST, Feb 2, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 8:32 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2012
State Rep. Tom Okamura, who was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in January to fill a state House vacancy in Aiea, has resigned for health reasons.
Okamura, 63, replaced former House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, who left office last year to become Abercrombie's deputy chief-of-staff.
Abercrombie’s staff and many Democrats at the state Capitol were surprised by the resignation.
Okamura, who had previously served in the House for two decades, chose not to seek re-election in 2000 because he was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. But he sought the appointment to replace Oshiro and was selected by the governor over two others recommended by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
“We wish Tom the best in taking care of his health. That should be the No. 1 priority,” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, an Abercrombie spokeswoman.
Abercrombie will have to make another appointment from a list recommended by the party.
“I want to thank Rep. Tom Okamura for his service to the state Legislature over the course of his career,” House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) said in a statement. “During the few weeks this year that he’s been with the House, he has graced us with his unique knowledge, expertise and wisdom as a veteran lawmaker and true public servant.
“His health, however, has become a concern, and Rep. Okamura has placed the needs of his district first. He wants to ensure that the district and his constituents receive the best representation possible and has, therefore, chosen to step down at this time. We wish him well as he attends to his health.”