Former Rep. Harbin works for affordable housing
What ever happened to former state Rep. Bev Harbin?
Answer: Bev Harbin, whose appointment to a legislative vacancy in 2005 was followed by calls for her resignation after a criminal record was uncovered, has moved on from politics, working as an advocate for affordable housing.
Gov. Linda Lingle selected Harbin as an interim appointment to represent the Downtown-Chinatown area. She served one session before losing in the primary election to Rep. Karl Rhoads.
Since that defeat, Harbin said, she has foregone a return to lobbying in favor of working with residents of her former district to preserve affordable housing units. Last year, she worked with Faith Action for Community Equity to form the group Ohana Housing-Network Oahu, an advocacy group of tenants from six affordable housing properties in the area
"It has been an unbelievable experience because I get to work with the real people that live and work in these affordable buildings," she said.
Harbin, a former lobbyist and small business advocate, was appointed to the state House to fill a vacancy created when longtime Democrat Ken Hiraki accepted a private sector job with one year left on his term. Local Democrats criticized the move, noting that Harbin had only joined the party after Hiraki stepped down.
Weeks later, Democrats and Republicans, including Lingle, asked her to resign after it was learned that she had a 1987 criminal record for passing bad checks and that she owed $123,000 in back taxes.
Lingle said she wouldn't have appointed her had Harbin disclosed the information in her application. Harbin refused to resign, saying the charges stemmed from a legal dispute and she did not believe anything about her past was embarrassing to her or the administration.
Harbin has no plans to run for office again, but she is thankful for the experience. "As much as I was kicked around," she said, "it has really opened doors for me with the actual people I'm working with now."
This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes.
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