Maui Election

Recently retired 2nd Circuit Court Chief Judge Bissen to run for Maui mayor

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PC: Bissen Movement

After recently retiring from the state judiciary, decorated former 2nd Circuit Court Chief Judge Richard T. Bissen Jr. is now making a run for the County of Maui’s top leadership position.

Bissen announced his mayoral bid via news release today, saying that he is looking forward to collaborating with residents and will use “intelligence and heart” to improve Maui County.

The county will hold its nonpartisan mayoral election in November following the August primaries.

“Since our democracy is built on citizen participation, I urge all residents to participate in our county’s decision-making by registering to vote and casting your ballot,” Bissen said in the release. “Since caring for Maui County will require a team effort and collective kuleana, I welcome your ideas and your manaʻo and invite you to join the Bissen Movement.”


Bissen was sworn in as a Circuit Court judge for the 2nd Circuit in April 2005 and retired as chief judge last month.

When asked why he would be willing to take a pay cut in order to serve as mayor, Bissen’s campaign said that helping the community was never about money.

“Bissen is concerned about Maui and loves Maui and its people deeply,” Charlene Schulenburg, campaign chairwoman, told Maui Now. “His career serving Maui for 30-plus years, along with his stepping up now, has never been about money.  Bissen’s intent to be mayor is about helping all the residents of Maui, everyone . . . from those who recently call Maui home, to those locally born and/or raised here.”

The annual salary of a Circuit Court judge is $209,088, according to a Hawaiʻi state job posting in 2020. Mayor Michael Victorino’s salary was $151,979 in fiscal year 2020, Civil Beat’s database of public employee salaries said.


Prior to Bissen’s appointment as 2nd Circuit Court judge, he served as the interim director for the state Department of Public Safety and as the first deputy attorney general for the state, according to a biography on the state judiciary website.

Bissen’s resume is decorated with many accolades, including receiving the 2021 Jurist of the Year Award from Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald and the proclamation that December 30th would be “Chief Judge Richard T. Bissen Jr. Day.” Recktenwald said Bissen held the “highest integrity” as a judge, the campaign said.

He is a member of the Hale Mua cultural group, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Kahekili Chapter IV.

With extensive community service experience, Bissen has served as member, director and officer with many boards, committees and groups.


After graduating St. Anthony High School in 1979, Bissen attended the University of Santa Clara where received a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then received his juris doctor degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi in Mānoa.

Bissen has been married to his wife, Isabella, for 30 years and has three daughters and three grandsons.

“Rick’s love for his family, deep local roots and concern for his community drives his passion to protect and preserve our island home,” the release said.

The main focus of the Bissen campaign, called “the Bissen Movement,” is “Prosperity for all residents of Maui County – Kamaʻāina Prosperity,” it added.

To learn more about Bissen, visit and find @bissenmovement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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