Bye, Bye Miss American Liberty: Rep. Barbara Marumoto

BY STATE SEN. SAM SLOM – The news today that Hawaii State Rep. Barbara Marumoto, (R-Kahala, Kaimuki) is retiring from office this year was a surprise to all who know Barbara. She is one of a kind – and will be missed – but not forgotten.

Marumoto will leave a real vacuum in the State House after 34 years of outspoken leadership and integrity.

After serving in the 1978 State Constitutional Convention (the last Con Con held in Hawaii)—the session that put then young John Waihee on the political map and later Governor of Hawaii—Marumoto ran for the State House and was elected the same year. She has been re-elected every two years since, representing the Waialae Kahala and East Honolulu area with distinction. She currently serves as Minority Policy Leader in the 8-member Republican House Minority.

Marumoto has proposed numerous positive bills for Hawaii’s taxpayers and families. Many have been enacted—under a Majority Democrat’s name. A usual practice. Marumoto has always smiled and gets along with everyone. But Marumoto’s legislative imprint is clear.

During the 2011 Legislative Session, new Governor Neil Abercrombie gave a budget briefing in the packed Capitol Auditorium. His message was full of harmful new and expanded tax proposals.

Marumoto questioned him, politely, on his plan to tax pensions and further burden fixed income senior citizens. The aggressive Abercombie, lashed out at Marumoto, attacked her personally, and stated she was wrong in her conclusions of the impact of the new tax.

Marumoto respectfully stood her ground and didn’t quit. Later, the Administration was forced to admit publicly that the Governor had misspoken and Rep. Marumoto had been correct.

Rep. Barbara Marumoto and Sen. Sam Slom

Marumoto is a steadfast and loyal Republican in the bluest of blue Democrat states. Years ago, when two high profile women Republican lawmakers, Donna Ikeda and Ann Kobayashi, were convinced to switch parties and gain leadership positions, Marumoto remained with the Republicans.

The University of Hawaii grad (BA Sociology), also attended UC Berkeley, UCLA and San Francisco State University. She has always been an advocate for better education in Hawaii.

Marumoto, a long time member of Smart Business Hawaii (SBH), championed many causes but was probably best known for her support of small business issues, safety for children (especially those riding in the back of trucks), patriotism, health concerns, tax reduction and fiscal reforms.

PAYCHECKS HAWAII, the non-partisan, independent, political action affiliate of SBH, has ranked each of the 76 state legislators annually on business climate support and improvement. The top ranking is “1.” Marumoto has racked up more top spots—including the 2012 Session completed May 3—than any other lawmaker.

Marumoto is known for her community support and participation. It is amazing how many meetings and events she attends. She is a member of many organizations including: Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce; AARP; Oahu YWCA; SBH; The Outdoor Circle; Kaimuki Lions; Junior League of Honolulu; Historic Hawaii Foundation; UH College of Arts & Sciences (Board), and State Director, Women in Government.

She has won numerous leadership awards including: Presidential Leadership Award; Hawaii Women Lawyers President’s Award; Legislator of the Year—National Republican Legislators Association; Legislator of the Year, Hawaii Medical Association; Certificate for Patriotic Civilian Service (US Army);, and OWLS Outstanding Women Leaders.

Marumoto is married to Richard Coons and has five children, two stepsons and eight grandchildren.

A signature Marumoto identity for nearly two decades has been her donning a full Statue of Liberty costume, which she has worn  in the Kailua 4th of July and other parades, civic events and educational programs. She originally rented the costume, but it proved so popular—especially among kids who called her, “Miss Liberty,” and “Miss America,”— that she bought the costume. She sure got her money’s worth and along the way made all of us very appreciative.

Bye, bye Miss Liberty. All the best for what you have given Hawaii.

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