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. He’s also a member of the Labor, Culture and the Arts, and Judiciary committees.
Mike, one of eight children, was born in 1948 in Fagatogo, American Samoa. He was a U.S. citizen from birth because of his dad’s U.S citizenship. 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 to American parents in Decatur, Indiana, but she grew up in Michigan. Mike and Carol have been married for almost 52 years. They are the parents of five and grandparents of eight. Carol, served from 2000-2004 on the Hawai`i State Board of Education. From 1998-2017, Mike and Carol owned/operated a small family business, Hawaiian Toffee Treasures, what many people say was 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.
In 2006, Mike was elected to represent West O`ahu in the Hawai`i State Senate.
From 2009 to 2015, he was the Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee and had an important role in Hawai`i becoming the first state in the nation to set a target of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2045.
In 2016, Gabbard was Chair of the Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee, where he authored a law that bans the sale of any part or product of endangered species, such as elephant ivory.
He is currently the Chair of the Agriculture and Environment Committee and is focused on increasing local food production, implementing his initiative to establish an industrial hemp pilot program under the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, and protecting the environment. In 2018, he authored and helped pass legislation to impose a first-of-its-kind statewide ban on sunscreens containing the controversial chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Gabbard also advocated for a law banning the pesticide chlorpyrifos; when it was signed, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to enact a chlorpyrifos ban.
Since being elected in 2006, Gabbard has authored 43 bills that became law, including legislation related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, endangered species protection, industrial hemp, the environment, and public safety.
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, and remains active in various community organizations.