Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran (District 5, Wailuku, Kahului, Waiheʻe, Waikapū Mauka, and Waiehu) issued the following statement announcing his retirement from the Hawaiʻi State Senate, effective Oct. 31, 2023.
He released the following statement this afternoon:
“It has been an honor to represent my friends and family in my Central Maui communities in the State Senate and the State House of Representatives. And it has been an honor to serve with my Senate colleagues, both past and present, the Senate staff, and the people who have worked for me during the time I’ve been privileged to serve.”
“I believe that this decision best serves the interests of the Maui people especially given what they have gone through over the last three weeks, and what they continue to experience. As we know, the Maui community — including members of my extended clan who lived and worked in West Maui — have suffered tremendous losses, including losing loved ones. Some, to this day, are still not identified or found. The choice for me has always been and will always be my family and community, and this decision is consistent with that overriding value.”
Hawaiʻi News Now reported the resignation comes amid ethical questions about his potential role in wildfire litigation. He is a partner in the Takitani, Agaran, Jorgensen & Wildman law firm. Another atoners from the firm hosted a recent presentation and sign-up event offered to families and businesses impacted by the Lahaina wildfire disaster.
Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (District 8 – Kauaʻi and Niʻihau) responded to the news of Keith-Agaran’s resignation saying, “Although not privy to the reasons for his decision, Sen. Keith-Agaran’s reasons must have been thoughtfully and carefully considered. Sen. Keith-Agaran is a brilliant legislator whose integrity is beyond reproach and his leadership, experience, and calming influence, will be sorely missed in the Senate.”
Senator Keith-Agaran grew up in Pāʻia and Kahului, where he graduated from Maui High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Yale University and a Juris Doctor from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. Prior to serving in the Legislature, Senator Keith-Agaran served as the Director of Labor and Industrial Relations, the First Deputy Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and later the Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, and the Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. He also served as Public Works and Environmental Management Director for the County of Maui.
In 2009, upon the passing of former Representative Bob Nakasone, Keith-Agaran was appointed to serve as the Representative for House District 9. He served the people of Maui in this position until 2013. In 2013, upon Shan Tsutsui becoming the Lieutenant Governor, Keith-Agaran was appointed to serve as the Senator for District 5 and has remained in the role ever since. He has been the Vice-Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee since 2018 and previously chaired the Judiciary committees of both the House and the Senate.
In accordance with State law, Democratic Party officers will identify three names that will be transmitted to Governor Green for consideration. The Governor will have 60 days to fill the vacancy.
*Maui Now’s Wendy Osher contributed to this report.