Mike Gabbard is the State Senator for District 20, which includes Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of Kalaeloa, Ewa, and Waipahu. He is currently the Chair of the Agriculture & Environment Committee and Vice Chair of the Water & Land Committee. He’s also a member of the Judiciary & Labor Committee.
Mike, one of eight children, was born in 1948 in Fagatogo, American Samoa. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen at one year old. His father felt privileged to devote his life to serving his country in the U.S. Air Force. Mike has lived in Hawai`i for much of his life. He received his BA degree in English from California State University - Sonoma, and his Master’s degree in Adult Education with an emphasis in Community College Administration from Oregon State University. Besides his extensive experience as a teacher, counselor, headmaster of a private school, college administrator, restaurant owner, and tennis pro, Mike is an accomplished musician/songwriter. His CD “Stand As One” includes a beautiful collection of heartwarming songs by Mike, as well as selections by Na Leo Pilimehana, Kapena, Kawika, Leon and Malia, and Koa.
Mike married Carol Porter in 1968. Carol was born in Decatur, Indiana to American parents but grew up in Michigan. Mike and Carol have been married for close to 48 years. They are the parents of five and grandparents of eight. Carol, who served from 2000-2004 on the Hawai`i State Board of Education, and Mike operate a small family business, Hawaiian Toffee Treasures, what many people say is the best English toffee in the world.
Mike is perhaps best known locally and nationally for his leadership role in the eight-year battle to protect traditional marriage, which culminated in the passage of a constitutional amendment ratified by 70% of the people in Hawai`i in 1998.
In 2001, Mike and his daughter Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard co-founded Healthy Hawai`i Coalition (HHC), a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting the environment and improving individual and community health. HHC has been active in Hawai`i’s schools teaching children the importance of watershed protection and keeping Hawai`i clean and green. To date, over 6,000 students at more than 60 public and private schools across the state have participated in the program.
Mike served on the Honolulu City Council with distinction from 2003 to 2005 representing District #1, which stretches from Ewa Beach to Makaha. Some of Mike's accomplishments on the Council include:
- Authored and introduced a precedent-setting resolution prohibiting the placement of landfills over aquifers. The legislation stopped a plan by developers and supportive politicians to allow a garbage dump to be built in Kunia over the Pearl Harbor Aquifer, the source of fresh drinking water for 70% of Oahu 's people.
- Authored and introduced legislation to create a volunteer policing program within the Honolulu Police Department. The bill created a volunteer force of citizens to patrol neighborhoods keeping an eye out for parking violations.
- Coordinated fundraising efforts to make the Bruddah Iz sculpture dedication a reality. Over 500 people attended this memorable event in Waianae.
- Authored and introduced important legislation to repeal Chapter 38 - the City's Leasehold Conversion law. Many Native Hawaiians, charitable trusts, small landowners, and churches were negatively impacted by the leasehold conversion law and joined Mike in helping to secure its repeal.
In 2004, Mike also ran a hard fought unsuccessful campaign to represent Hawai`i’s Second Congressional District.
Since taking office as a State Senator in 2006, he has had many accomplishments. Some of the highlights are:
- Worked with colleagues at the Capitol to secure close to $1 billion in state construction funding for the district (East Kapolei High, East Kapolei Middle, Kapolei II Elementary, Kapolei Court Complex, Kapolei H-1 Interchange Complex, Kualaka`i Parkway, and UH West `Oahu)
- Served as the State Senate's Energy and Environment Committee Chair since 2009
- Authored 25 bills that became law, including legislation related to public safety, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental protection
- Received Hawai`i Youth Challenge Academy Lokahi Award (2011)
- Chosen by Sierra Club as “Legislator Who Made a Difference” (2009)
- Held over 75 community "Listen Story" meetings
In 2007, Mike and Carol founded the Aloha Parenting Project (APP), a grassroots non-profit organization that educates, supports, and helps parents raise children to become responsible, productive members of our community. APP serves as a statewide clearinghouse for parents who are interested in learning about and improving parenting skills and techniques. Presently, he continues to serve as president of HHC, & APP, operates his small family business, and remains active in various community organizations.