POLITICIAN’S PASSING. House speaker John Boehner of Ohio (far
right) administers the oath to representative Mark Takai (second
from left), during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in
ceremony on January 6, 2015, in the Rayburn Room on Capitol Hill
in Washington, D.C. With them are Takai’s wife Sami and their
two children, Matthew and Kaila. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez
From The Asian Reporter, V26, #15 (August 1, 2016),
Hawai‘i Democratic congressman Mark Takai dies
By Cathy Bussewitz
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Representative Mark Takai, a first-term Democrat
from Hawai‘i, has passed after battling cancer.
Takai, 49, died at home surrounded by his family. The cause
of death was pancreatic cancer, said Rod Tanonaka, Takai’s chief
Born on Oahu, Takai served in the state House of
Representatives for 20 years before he was elected to congress,
first winning his statehouse seat at age 27. He served as a
longtime lieutenant colonel in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard
for more than a decade and was deployed to the Middle East as
part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In congress, he sat on the
Armed Services and Natural Resources committees.
"Mark humbly and effectively served the people of his state
House and Congressional districts," Hawai‘i governor David Ige
said in a statement. "In the often tumultuous world of politics,
he has been a shining example of what it means to be a public
Takai was first diagnosed with cancer in October and
initially expressed optimism that he would recover. But in May
he announced he would not seek re-election after he learned the
cancer had spread.
Takai’s passing was mourned among his colleagues in Hawai‘i
and Washington, with politicians recalling his gentle, kind
"All of us were moved when he announced his cancer to Vice
President Biden and the members at the House Democrats’ Issues
Conference earlier this year," said Democratic leader Nancy
Pelosi, in a statement. "Mark confronted his diagnosis with the
spirit we all hope we would share when facing such an awful
disease. As we mourn the loss of our friend, we draw fresh
resolve to find cures."
U.S. representative Tulsi Gabbard, who served with Takai in
congress, the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, and the state
legislature, said Takai had "a servant’s heart, full of aloha."
"No matter where he was, he always kept his service to
Hawai‘i’s people at the forefront of his actions," Gabbard said.
"Mark’s smiling face and ready laugh will truly be missed, but
the impact that he made through his life of service to the
people of Hawai‘i will always be remembered."
Hawai‘i superintendent of schools Kathryn Matayoshi
remembered Takai as a staunch advocate for public schools who
pushed tirelessly for education funding and resources.
Takai is survived by his wife, Sami, and two children,
Matthew and Kaila. "The Takai family thanks the people of
Hawai‘i for their support during this difficult time," said a
release by his office. His family requested privacy.
"This is the deepest of losses and one that I feel very
personally because of my friendship with Mark," said U.S.
senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). "Throughout his life, he was
all about serving the people of Hawai‘i. He gave so much, and
had so much more yet to give."
Ige’s office was researching next steps to determine how a
replacement would be named, spokeswoman Jodi Leong said.
The Hawai‘i Office of Elections will likely hold an election
in November for a replacement to serve the remainder of Takai’s
term, which would have ended in January, said spokeswoman
Bussewitz reported from Honolulu. AP writer Andrew Taylor in
Washington contributed to this report.