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(Fri., April 27, 2012)—Mayor Peter Carlisle announced today that Duane Okamoto, former deputy director to the state Department of Agriculture from 2005 to 2010, would serve as the new City Agricultural Liaison starting May 1. 


            Okamoto was also the president of his own consulting firm and has managerial experience in areas including agriculture, construction, high technology, tourism, and social services.


            “I’m pleased that Duane is joining the City team. His extensive knowledge of agriculture and other industries will be valuable,” Carlisle said. “I am also grateful that Duane and our current Ag Liaison are committed to working together on a seamless transition for the good of all agriculture stakeholders on Oahu.”


Okamoto replaces Laura Thielen who will resign on April 30 to devote time to her campaign for state Senate.  “I sincerely thank Laura for her service as the city’s first Agricultural Liaison and am sorry to see her go,” Carlisle said. “During her time here, she worked closely with farmers and facilitated collaboration between City agencies to help build a stronger agricultural economy on Oahu.”


Thielen in turn praised Carlisle’s leadership on farm issues. “Mayor Carlisle, with the support of the City Council, is dedicating lands for permanent agriculture, starting with the identification of important agricultural lands and reviewing City policies to promote agriculture on Oahu. He understands that agriculture is important to Oahu residents.”


Thielen also thanked City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi, who promoted the creation of the agricultural liaison position. “Councilmember Kobayashi is a strong supporter of farmers, and it has been a pleasure to work with her,” Thielen said.


“Farmers have been asking for a point person within the City for years,” said Fred Lau, owner of Mari’s Garden. “Laura’s been tremendous, coming out to farms all over the island to talk story and really understand the challenges we face. We trust the Mayor and Council see the value of this position and hope her successor is as energetic as Laura.”


As the Ag Liaison, Thielen created the framework for the position. Farmers’ priorities and the policy changes necessary to address them were identified and the steps for mapping important agricultural lands have been initiated, which will be followed by the new agricultural liaison.




Media contact: Louise Kim McCoy, Mayor’s Office, 768-7798.