kokubunMember of the following committees:

ENE - Energy and Environment
HRE - Higher Education
WTL - Water, Land, Agriculture, and Hawaiian Affairs
WAM - Ways and Means

Russell S. Kokubun was born and raised in Honolulu. He graduated from Punahou School in 1966 and received his Bachelors of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Russell lives with his wife, Anne in Volcano Village on Hawaii Island. He has two daughters. Older daughter Keiko lives on Hawai'i Island with her husband Clinton Mercado and their son Gabriel. His younger daughter Nina lives in Tahiti on the Island of Bora Bora with her husband Haunui Ta'ati and their daughter Vavea.

After moving to the Big Island in 1974 to pursue a career in agriculture, Russell lived and worked in Waimea as a farm laborer. Subsequently, he purchased and began operating his farm in Volcano in 1978. As the President and Executive Director of the Volcano Community Association from 1981 through 1984, he led the organization in its effort to prevent the destruction of pristine native forest, which serves as critical habitat for endangered species, by industrial geothermal development near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Kokubun was elected to the Hawaii County Council in 1984. He was re-elected in 1988 and selected by his council colleagues to serve as Chairman of the County Council. In 1992 he sought the Mayor's seat for the Big Island and was unsuccessful in his endeavor.

In November 1992, Kokubun was hired by the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association as the Project Manager for the Hilo Main Street Program. He led the effort to revitalize Downtown Hilo through the preservation and enhancement of the historic and cultural elements of the area.

Hawaii County Mayor Stephen Yamashiro appointed Kokubun as an Executive Assistant in September 1995. Working as a facilitator on special projects, Kokubun was subsequently appointed by Mayor Yamashiro to the post of Deputy Director for the Department of Planning in June 1997 and continued in this capacity until December 2000.

Fulfilling his interest in historic, cultural and natural resource management, Kokubun was selected to serve from 1996 to 2002 as one of two advisors from the State of Hawaii to the National Board of Advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He has also served as a Trustee for Historic Hawaii Foundation from 1995 to 2002.

Kokubun was appointed by Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano to serve as the Hawaii Island Member of the State Board of Land and Natural Resources beginning in 1998. When a vacancy occurred in the State Senate District 2 in 2000, Governor Cayetano appointed Kokubun to complete the term in the Senate until 2002, and was subsequently re-elected to the Senate in 2004 and 2006.

Employment History
2000 - Present State Senator, 2nd Senatorial District

  • Chair; Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, & Affordable Housing
  • Committee Member: Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee on the Bureau of Conveyances

1997 - 2000 Deputy Planning Director, County of Hawaii

  • Deputy Administrator, Department of Planning
  • Special Projects Facilitator
  • Senate Vice-Chair, Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee for Felix Consent Decree

1995 - 1997 Executive Assistant to the Mayor, County of Hawaii

  • Special Projects Facilitator: Hilo Bayfront Recreation Area, Downtown Hilo Landscape Plan, Lincoln Park Improvement Project, Real Property Tax Code Revisions, County General Plan Revisions for Agricultural Lands, Puna Community Development Plan, Kiyoshi Okubo Collection, Waimea Trails and Greenways Project

1992 - 1995 Project Manager, Hilo Main Street Program

  • Principal responsible for coordinating and managing the revitalization program for Downtown Hilo under the direction of the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association (DIA) Board of Directors.
  • Member, State Main Street Council, Historic Preservation Division, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)

1988 - 1992 Chairman, Hawaii County Council

  • Responsible for the overall functioning of the County Council, i.e. budget adoption, setting policy direction particularly in the areas of land use and fiscal matters, management of Council services and staff, adoption of laws to guide the County.
  • Established and maintained cooperative working relationship with the Mayor and Administration.
  • Fostered positive intergovernmental relations with the Governor, State Legislators, and Congressional delegation.
  • Developed open line of communication with the business community and the general public.
  • Member, Hawaii County Housing Agency

1984 - 1988 Councilmember, Hawaii County Council
1978 - 1988 Owned and Operated Farm in Volcano
1980 - 1981 Accountant, Volcano Art Center
1975 - 1978 Manager, Hilo Natural Foods Store Operator, Hydroponic Greenhouse in Keaau
1974 - 1975 Farm Laborer in Kamuela

Community Activities


  • Chair, Hawai'i 2050 Sustainability Task Force


  • Member, National Board of Advisors, 1996 to 2002, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Trustee, 1995 to 2002, Historic Hawai'i Foundation
  • Member, Board of Land and Natural Resources, 1998 to 2000 Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaii
  • Volunteer Fire Fighter, Company 5 Alpha, Volcano, Hawaii
  • Member, Board of Directors, Na Hoaloha `Ainahou
  • Member, Forest Stewardship Committee, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, DLNR
  • Member, Board of Advisors, Mental Help Hawaii, Inc.
  • Member, Board of Directors, University of Hawaii Hilo Alumni Association
  • Facilitator, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Kona/Kohala Natural Resources Roundtable
  • Member, Board of Directors, Edith Kanakaole Foundation
  • Member, Big Island Planning Committee, State Health Planning and Development Agency
  • Member, Board of Advisors, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Hawaii State Judiciary
  • Member, Board of Directors, YWCA Community Youth Activity Program
  • Chairman, Hawaii Vog Authority, Comprised of Federal, State, County and private agencies and individuals seeking to gather data, develop recommendations and pursue appropriate legislation to address health impacts of volcanic emissions.
  • Convener, Kalapana Task Force, Established by the Governor and Hawaii County Mayor to address the impacts to Kalapana property owners who were displaced from their homes due to lava inundation.


  • Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA), Southern Methodist University, 1971
  • Graduate, Punahou School, 1966


  • Date of Birth: May 15, 1948
  • Marital Status: Married to Anne E. (Heston) Kokubun, State DOE Administrator
  • Interests: Farming, hiking, camping, and reading

Member of the Democratic party

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