Hawai‘i Congressman Takai fighting cancer, will not run for re-election
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Mark Takai (HI-1) said Thursday he will step down after serving out the remainder of his term. Takai said that he would step down for treatment of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis he received in 2015. At this time is asking for continued respect of his family’s privacy as he moves forward with treatment.
“It has been my greatest privilege to serve the people of Hawai‘i for the past 20 years,”Takai said. “As your Congressman, I made it my mission to always put Hawai‘i and her people first.”
“In life, we often make plans for ourselves. I had envisioned a long career in the U.S. House of Representatives, building up the seniority and influence that were key to Senator Inouye’s ability to deliver for Hawai‘i. But as often happens, we find ourselves on a different journey than what we had planned.
“When I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, my family and I resolved to fight it head-on and with deep personal faith. Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads. I had truly hoped to aggressively fight this cancer while seeking re-election, but I recently learned that my cancer has spread.
“Putting Hawai‘i and its people first means that I must regretfully withdraw from my 2016 re-election race for Congress and suspend my campaign. Right now, for the sake of my family, I need to focus on getting better rather than getting re-elected.
“Although I will not be running for re-election, I intend to serve out the remainder of my term in Congress. There is still much work that I am determined to see through for Hawai‘i and our nation over the next few months.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, and supporters for their unwavering love and support. My time in public service has been an incredible journey, all made possible by my wife Sami, my children, Matthew and Kaila, my parents, siblings, and the many individuals who are family to me, either by blood, or by kinship.
“To my supporters, I say a heartfelt ‘Mahalo!’ You have been the foundation upon which my 20-plus years of public service has been built. Thank you for your love, friendship, and continued prayers,” said Congressman Mark Takai.
President Barack Obama stated that Takai has proudly served the people of Hawai‘i for 20 years in Congress, the state legislature, and as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard.
“…A champion for our brave men and women in uniform and our veterans, and as someone who stands up for our working families, he’s always been a fighter,” Obama said. “That’s the approach he’ll take to his battle with cancer, too. Michelle and I thank Mark for his leadership and service, but also for his courage and tireless advocacy for cancer research – research that has given hope to others who fight this disease every day. And we want Mark to know that he and his family have our continued support and warmest wishes on their journey ahead.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said Takai has served the state and our country honorably as a public servant, elected official, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard. He has an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of Hawai‘i families.
“I have worked closely with Mark for many years on education reform, and especially on Impact Aid for Hawaii’s schools when I served in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Hirono said. “I will miss him in this arena as a strong partner on issues we both care deeply about, and will continue to do so through the rest of his term. I have affectionately called Mark my younger brother for many years and I wish Mark and his family all the best.”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hi-2), called Takai a dear friend and colleague.
“We’ve served together over the years in many capacities — as colleagues in the Hawaiʻi State House, as Soldiers in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard, and now in Congress,” Gabbard said. “Mark has a servant’s heart and has dedicated his life to working for the people of Hawaiʻi. Now we can show our thanks to him and his family for their service by supporting them and their decision in every way possible. I look forward to continuing to work with Mark in Congress for the remainder of his term, ensuring that our constituents in Hawaiʻi are served and heard.”
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said Takai, who is a CAPAC Executive Board member, is an exceptional colleague who has demonstrated an impressive work ethic and a strong commitment to improving the lives of the people of Hawai‘i and all Americans throughout his distinguished military and public service career.
“As a member of CAPAC, he has been a leader on issues benefitting our diverse Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, particularly our military families and veterans,” Chu said. “Among his notable achievements are his efforts to help Filipino World War II veterans reunite with their loved ones, legislation to secure treatment for veterans suffering from service-related radiation exposure, and a postage stamp commemorating the patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II.”
“On behalf of CAPAC, I thank Mark for his leadership and service to our country,” Chu said. “I know that he will continue fighting cancer like he has fought for AAPI communities in Congress. He and his wife Sami, and their children Matthew and Kaila, are in our thoughts.”
Rep. Grace Meng (NY-6), CAPAC Leadership PAC chair, said Takai’s 17-year member of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, included a deployment to the Middle East as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Mark won his first elected office at the age of 27 and served 20 years in the Hawaii State House of Representatives,” Meng said. “In 2015, the PAC unanimously voted to support Mark’s candidacy for Congress — winning Hawaii’s First Congressional District. From a two-time high school All-American swimmer to the halls of Congress, he has excelled at every challenge.”
“While we will miss him in Washington, we will always be with him as he fights his battle with cancer,” she said.