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James Takushi, former state negotiator and department head, dies at age 85

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    James Takushi

James Takushi, who headed the state’s personnel and human resources departments under three Hawaii governors and was a one-time key lieutenant for Democratic Party of Hawaii , died Monday at his Alewa home, his family said in a release.

Takushi, 85, was raised in Kalihi and was the youngest of eight children.

In 1969, the late Gov. John A. Burns tapped him to be his personnel director. At 39, Takushi was the youngest in the Burns cabinet.

Former Gov. George Ariyoshi called him “a close and dear friend” who was his campaign manager when he first ran for the state Senate, and then later, when he became governor, served in his cabinet. Ariyoshi described Takushi’s role as pivotal to personnel relations through several decades.

“As the state’s collective bargaining chief negotiator, he played a vital role in helping us to cut the cost of government operations tremendously,” Ariyoshi said, in a statement. “He had the ability to produce results that would benefit everyone — not just one side.”

Hawaii political historian Tom Coffman, in his 2003 book The Island Edge of America, credited Takushi with persuading Ariyoshi to run for lieutenant governor in 1970.

After serving under both Burns and Ariyoshi, left government work. But in 1994, then Gov. Ben Cayetano picked him to be his human resources director where he started a new Office of Collective Bargaining, after collective bargaining was approved by the Legislature, and became the state’s first chief negotiator.

Subsequently, Takushi served on the state Labor and Industrial Appeals Board and was human resources vice president at the University of Hawaii system.

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