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Elective office eluded Windward lawyer


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POSTED: Monday, June 01, 2009

Honolulu attorney and indefatigable political candidate Tom Pico Jr. has died at age 65, about a month after his bid for a City Council seat.

; “;Tom Pico was a tireless crusader for lower taxes and fiscal responsibility,”; Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jonah Ka'auwai said. “;His strong conservative values and commonsense approach to complex issues will be sorely missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time.”;

Pico died May 19 at Castle Medical Center.

The former deputy attorney general and deputy prosecutor served as health insurance attorney for the State Insurance Commission. Pico was also a partner in the former Kailua law firm of Jervis, Aiona & Pico with former Bishop Estate trustee Gerard Jervis and James Aiona, the lieutenant governor.

A Republican in a predominantly Democratic state, Pico never attained political office, but he came to be widely known to Windward residents and was often seen waving along Pali Highway during election time.

Most recently, Pico ran in the nonpartisan race to fill the City Council seat left vacant by the late Barbara Marshall. He garnered 324 votes in the April special election for the District 3 seat (parts of Kaneohe, Kailua and Waimanalo), coming in ninth in a crowded field of 11.

Pico “;was basically known as a fiercely independent kind of guy,”; said Jim Bryan, spokesman for the Hawaii Republican Party. “;Even though he was a party stalwart for years, his sense of independence, I think, really struck everybody as something genuine. He was just a real guy.”;

Born in New Jersey, Pico and his family moved in 1960 to Windward Oahu, where he graduated from Kailua High School. Pico returned to New Jersey to obtain his law degree at Rutgers University.

In 1996, Pico came in a distant second to longtime incumbent Patsy Mink in the 2nd District (rural Oahu, neighbor islands) congressional race.

In 2006 Pico ran unsuccessfully for the 24th District (Kaneohe, Kailua) state Senate seat.

During that race, Pico opposed the rail transit system, saying it was unaffordable and would not solve traffic congestion. He also said he would support the Superferry but only if it remained privately financed.

Pico also was chairman of the Kailua Neighborhood Board and served on its predecessor, the Kailua Community Association.

No matter how vehement he was on certain issues, people realized it was nothing personal, Bryan said.

“;I can't find anyone who didn't like him,”; he said.

Pico is survived by wife, former TV journalist Mary Zanakis-Pico; sons Mark, Tommy and Kupono; mother Ditty; brothers John, Ray and Gerald; sister Monique; and a grandchild. His father, the late Tom Pico Sr., was owner of Tom Pico Realtors.

Private services were held.