LIHUE — Thomas Oi of Lihue filed his papers to be included on the ballot for the office of State Representative of District 15.
“I always wanted to run for office,” Oi said. “After retiring from the state’s Department of Transportation Highways Division with 26 years of service as a land surveyor, I can devote the time and effort to this position, if I’m elected.”
Oi was raised in Palolo on Oahu, but has worked and lived here for “longer than I lived in Honolulu.”
“I came from the private sector,” Oi said. “I worked for Kutaka & Portugal as a land surveyor. These were the people involved in developing some of the major resorts here on Kauai, including Nukolii and Princeville.”
When the economy floundered, Oi moved to a job with the state and relocated to Honolulu.
“I had my surveyor’s license,” he said. “That was the only place where they had a job. When a position opened in the state’s Department of General Services, Survey Branch, I took it. We did support work for the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Attorney General’s office, and the state comptroller.”
When Sam Lee retired from the state’s DLNR, Oi returned to Kauai, assuming Lee’s position at the DLNR.
“This was my ticket to come back to Kauai,” Oi said. “I was married to Linda of the Uchiyama family who ran Lihue Cafe.”
Oi said if he is elected, he will look into legislation that will expedite the process of acquiring leases for state lands for purposes such as agriculture.
Currently, he serves as the Kauai representative to the Land Board. He was re-appointed by the state Legislature during this past session.
“There are a lot of things which can speed up the process like leases on state land,” he said. “One of these is passing legislation which would expedite the process.”
Oi said his background of working at the state Capitol makes him no stranger to the processes or people who work at the Legislature.
When Rep. Dee Morikawa was elected to office, he worked for her during her first three years.
“I used my contacts at the Capitol to get her introduced to people and the processes involved to get her familiarized with the Hawaii legislative process,” Oi said.
He said he also wants to improve people’s trust and confidence in government.
“All the while I’ve been working at the state level, it has I have been supportive and comfortable with everyone,” Oi said. “I am able to work with everybody who is on the Kauai state legislative team. Although I’m running for District 15, the duties don’t stop at the boundaries. I plan to work for Kauai as an island because everybody has family that live beyond the District 15 boundaries.”