Marcus Oshiro, the longtime Democratic representative from Wahiawa and Whitmore Village, made headlines when it was announced nearly three months ago that he’d be leaving the Legislature to take a job with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

But Oshiro didn’t start the new gig until late last month. And that has community members wondering why it took him so long to leave and why a replacement hasn’t been named.

Oshiro, a former vice speaker, majority leader and chairman of the committees on finance and labor, had served his district since 1994. He was nominated Aug. 29 by Gov. David Ige to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Rep Marcus Oshiro bedecked with lei on the last day of extended session.
Rep. Marcus Oshiro bedecked with lei on Sept. 1, when he was confirmed by the state Senate to lead the Hawaii Labor Review Board. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The state Senate confirmed Oshiro by a 22-0 vote on Sept. 1, when the Legislature was in special session. He started his position as HLRB’s chair Oct. 24.

Asked about the delay between jobs, Oshiro said, “The appointment process came up so suddenly during special session, so I really wanted to get back to my community and to let them know. I also wanted to do it in a social setting, so we had to rent Dot’s Restaurant’s banquet hall to serve dinner and get the word out to to make sure that all my key campaign supporters, volunteers and family were available.”

Replacements Proposed

On Nov. 13, the Democratic Party of Hawaii submitted to the governor the names of three possible replacements for Oshiro. Candidates must be selected by party officials in the district that is vacated.

A governor has 60 days from the day a legislative vacancy is created to select a new representative. In Oshiro’s case, that is Dec. 22.

The list of names submitted to Ige are Dean Harvest, Lei Learmont and Ricky Oshiro.

Screen shot from the State Capitol’s website Nov. 20. 

Harvest is a board member of the Wahiawa-Whitmore Village Neighborhood Board who has served on various Native Hawaiian community boards. He served as a shop steward for the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers.

Learmont was a legislative aide to Oshiro and Rep. Tom Brower. She worked as a human resources and personnel manager for City Mill, Del Monte and Hopaco. Learmont is also on the Wahiawa-Whitmore Village Neighborhood Board.

Ricky Oshiro is the cousin of Marcus Oshiro who worked in the office of former U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka. Past employers include Dole Pineapple and Big Way Bowling Alley.

Upholding Public Employee Rights

Oshiro holds a juris doctorate from Willamette University College of Law.

The labor board, according to its website, is charged with enforcing and protecting “the rights of public employees (state and county workers) and public unions to organize and bargain collectively in balance with the employer’s rights to manage operations as provided by law and to fairly and efficiently resolve labor disputes brought before it.”

The board also conducts hearings on contested citations issued by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division.

In announcing the appointment, Ige said of Oshiro, “Marcus is a respected leader who knows and understands the issues, and he has the background and experience to step right in to fill this very important role.”

Oshiro replaced Kerry Komatsubara, whose term was scheduled to end next summer. Oshiro was also appointed to a new six-year term which runs until June 30, 2024.

With Oshiro’s departure and the decision of Rep. Ken Ito to seek state Sen. Jill Tokuda’s seat (she is running for lieutenant governor), Rep. Scott Saiki, the House speaker, is the last member of the House class of 1994.

All 51 state House seats are up for election every two years. The filing period for 2018 races begins Feb. 1.

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