Rep. Calvin Say is speaker emeritus of the Hawaii House of Representatives. He served as speaker from 1999 until January 2013, the longest tenure for a House Speaker in state history. Say was also the first Chinese American to serve in the position.
He was re-elected to his seat in the 2012 general election after receiving 55 percent of the vote against Keiko Bonk and Julia Allen.
Shortly before the Legislature convened in January 2013, Maui Rep. Joe Souki gathered enough votes to replace Say as House speaker.
Say had narrowly held on to the speakership in the years prior as well. For example, when the Legislature convened in January 2011, it was uncertain that Say would continue as speaker. He was short of the votes necessary to ensure another two-year term, because some Democrats desired fresh leadership.
But on the day the Legislature opened, he was re-elected by all 50 of his colleagues, including eight Republicans, to the position.
His tenure has not been without controversy, however.
During the 2010 legislative session, Say drew heat from supporters of House Bill 444, the Hawaii civil unions bill, and public worker unions. He failed to call the House for a special session to potentially override the ruling of HB 444 and did not support tax increases to increase the wages and benefit of the unions.
Say has also faced allegations that he does not live in the district he represents. He has generally prevailed in court cases challenging his residency, with the judge ruling that it is up to House leaders to deal with the matter. In 2015, House leadership rejected the allegations that he did not live in his district for purposes of representing the area.
Say represents the 20th House district, which includes St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Maunalani Heights, Wilhemina Rise and Kaimuki.
He graduated from Saint Louis School and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.