Hawai‘i Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui Announces Resignation from State Government

Tsutsui says the timing wasn’t prompted by Gov. David Ige’s handling of the Jan. 13 false missile alert and he won’t say who he will support in the next governor’s race.
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui
Photo: Courtesy of Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui announced this week that he’s resigning from state government to join a Seattle-based company that will allow him to work from his home island of Maui.


He says he will work as a senior vice president for Seattle-based Strategies 360, a public affairs, communications and research firm. Tsutsui said the timing wasn’t prompted by Gov. David Ige’s handling of the Jan. 13 false missile alert or a particular issue.


Tsutsui says taking his oldest daughter to Oregon in September to start her freshman year in college proved a reality check. “I felt like I missed a lot from my kids growing up. I have two more at home that are younger,” he says. He and his wife have three daughters: ages 10, 14 and 18.


Tsutsui said he called Ige Monday, the morning of Jan. 29, to deliver the news, then sent out a news release saying that his last day at the State Capitol is Wednesday, Jan. 31.


“As I leave public service, I look forward to continuing to be a part of Hawai‘i’s future and helping to forge a new path that honors our shared beliefs and my continued commitment to improving the lives of the people of Hawai‘i,” he wrote.


The former state senate president first became lieutenant governor in 2012 to replace Brian Schatz after he was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to serve the rest of the U.S. Senate term of the late Daniel Inouye.


Tsutsui had expressed frustration that he wasn’t given more substantive work under Ige.


Ige praised Tsutsui for his 15 years of public service in state office. “It is with a mixture of sadness and gratitude that I learned of Shan’s decision to step down from his position as lieutenant governor,” Ige said in a statement.


Tsutsui pointed proudly to work to boost local food production, a farm to school initiative and increased support for after-school programs in public schools.


We asked Tsutsui who he’s going to support in the governor’s race and he responded, “I have no comment.” When pressed, he would not rule out getting involved but declined to say whether he would support challenger Colleen Hanabusa, Ige or anyone else. “Politics is kind of in my blood now. I don’t expect to just go away. We’ll see. I have a transition that I want to take care of.”


Strategies 360 Hawai‘i operations are run by John White, a familiar figure in politics and consulting who worked for the Pacific Resources Partnership, a labor-management program that supports carpenters and contractors.


Tsutsui says one of the first things he’s looking forward to back on Maui is time with family, especially camping with his daughters, going to the beach and paddle boarding without needing to be accompanied by security.