Committed Leadership Essential To Hawaii’s Quality Of Life - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Authors

Ivan Lui-Kwan

Ivan Lui-Kwan is a director at Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher. He formerly served as city director of Budget and Fiscal Services.

Donovan Dela Cruz

Hawaii State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. He formerly served as Honolulu City Council chair.


As former colleagues of Honolulu City Council Chair Ann Kobayashi, we applaud her dedicated public service over decades to the people of Hawaii. In a world dominated by political polarization, her leadership has been marked with courage, political wisdom and integrity. She stands out as a shining light for effective leadership.

Former Gov. George Ariyoshi in his recent book “Hawaii’s Future” states that “committed leadership is essential” to achieve the desired quality of life in Hawaii. This quality of life is described by Kenny Brown, the iconic former chair of the Queen’s Health Systems as healthy communities. Healthy communities represent good health, enriching education, fulfilling jobs, safe and affordable housing, caring families and supportive communities.

Hawaii as a healthy community is more an aspiration, than reality. The pandemic is threatening the health and safety of our residents. Unemployment is at an historic high. Too many businesses are shuttering.

The state government is projecting an annual $1.4 billion budget deficit over the next four years. The economy struggles with imbalance with over-dependence on the visitor industry. The rail project strains the financial capacity of the city.

Our homeless brothers and sisters live without dignity, and the absence of a desired outcome continues to blight our public places. Affordable housing is not within reach for many of our residents.

Outgoing Honolulu City Council Chair Ann Kobayashi.
Honolulu Councilwomen Ann Kobayashi retires in early January. Her years of public service can serve as an inspiration to others. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Absence of a healthy community in Hawaii is inconsistent with the belief that Hawaii is a nurturing pot for cultivation of inspirational leaders like former President Barack Obama and the late U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka. Senator Akaka observed that Barack Obama’s presidential decisions reflected the values he learned growing up in Hawaii.

Senator Akaka also shared that during his tenure in the U.S. Senate he met one-on-one with prominent world leaders like China’s Deng Xiaoping, President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. These leaders all delivered the same message to Senator Akaka:

“You are from Hawaii, Senator Akaka, and you know how to build bridges among peoples. My country wants to be respected in the global community and to have a good relationship with the United States. Please help us build this relationship with America.”

Strong and effective leadership can draw Hawaii toward becoming a healthy community. The following are offered as prescriptions from former Hawaii leaders:

  • My Brother’s Keeper Alliance of the Obama Foundation is investing in mentoring leaders for the next generation because, in President Obama’s words, their “conviction in the equal worth of all peoples seems to come as second nature.”
  • Senator Daniel Akaka encouraged us to recognize that Hawaii is truly a special place and to use our cultural assets of aloha and malama to provide leadership for the world.
  • Governor George Ariyoshi urges that we “consciously engage in leadership development” using our traditions of aloha and ohana.
  • Kenny Brown taught that we should embrace and vigorously pursue the goal of building healthy communities.
  • Dr. Agnes Cope believed in infusing confidence in the native Hawaiian community to uplift themselves.
  • Chief Justice William Richardson regularly confided in his law clerks that he recruited and mentored them to become leaders to make Hawaii a better place. The result is that his clerks became judges and justices on the Hawaii Supreme Court, chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii, Honolulu mayor, congressman, accomplished attorneys, law and college professors and contributing community advocates.
  • Ann Kobayashi has given us the lessons of courage, political wisdom and integrity.

Mahalo nui loa — appreciation deep, large and long to you, Ann.

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About the Authors

Ivan Lui-Kwan

Ivan Lui-Kwan is a director at Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher. He formerly served as city director of Budget and Fiscal Services.

Donovan Dela Cruz

Hawaii State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. He formerly served as Honolulu City Council chair.


Latest Comments (0)

Excellent article!!  Now, it is up to those who want to lead to follow those suggestions and it is up to us voters to look into people before voting and only vote for those who will uphold these standards!!Gretchen-Kaneohe

gretchen · 3 months ago

Other than brief periods of time when she was out of office, Ann Kobayashi has been in elective politics (state senate, city council) for the past 40 years. Did I agree with all of her positions? No. Far from it, as a matter of fact. However, I will note that whenever I encountered her at city hall or around the town, she was always gracious enough to smile & wave. It wasn't just during election time. And it wasn't just in front of the cameras. Her friendliness was genuine & wasn't an act....something that cannot be said for all local political figures.Here's wishing her a happy retirement.

KalihiValleyHermit · 3 months ago

Very nice article on outgoing Council Chair Ann Kobayashi!  If I may add that in the last few years that I have gotten to know the City Council and its functions, I have observed a deep passion to listen to the community by Ann and her logical, common sense, no nonsense way of dealing with some of the ridiculous arguments of those who did not care about the public's concerns.  When former DDC Director Kroning spoke at the Council meetings about Ala Moana's Master Plan, CM Kobayashi vigorously defended the people's concerns.  I, too, applaud CM Ann Kobayashi for her hard work over these many years representing her community and wish her a very happy retirement.

ajlee888 · 3 months ago

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